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De-Suung Stories from the Trans Bhutan Trail

The following are stories from De-Suung volunteers, also known as Guardians of Peace. On March 13, 2020 the De-Suung volunteers set out in two teams for a survey expedition of the Trans Bhutan Trail (TBT) from opposite ends of the country. Team West, starting in Haa, and Team East, starting in Trashigang, met 13 days later in Trongsa with many new memories and new friends. Here are a few of their Trans Bhutan Trail stories. 

Naley Pem by Kinley Choden

Western survey team with Naley Pem

For most of their journey, the Western Group was accompanied by a stray dog who became part of the team (pictured above).

Companionship is a four-legged commitment called Naley Pem.
Her charcoal black fur had a coat of winter sun. She smelled like a sheet of dusty winter settling down in the rain before the floral spring.
She walked beside us in her sometimes muddy paws, often dirty paws, and usually cracked paws.
She walked beside us in the scorching sun and its stinking afternoon heat, battling her way through the frozen winds, and survived with us all the harsh-cold nights.
She huffed and puffed with her curiously wet nostrils in her ‘stick my tongue out’ journey beside us.
Her stray body carried a heart that had all the love this world could ever give.
She was just as hungry and tired as we were, but she never failed to wag her happy tail when we called her name or turned down a brief playtime on our way.
And just like us, her favourite time of the day was meal time!
The resounding barks and her leaps out of joy: all for the love of food!
The mountains that we climbed and the valleys that we descended upon, the rivers and the bridges that we crossed, every footstep and every picture that we took together in our journey from Haa to Trongsa will dearly miss your presence!

Our dearest Naley Pem,
You’ll always be our incredible Blacky!
We hope you’ll never stop radiating love molecules through your affectionate stares.
The world needs more companions like you. You’ll always be our one happy dog! Thank you for your extraordinary companionship in this journey! Nobody could have walked beside us into the footsteps of our ancestors like you did!

We believe you were a gift sent to us by the blessings of our local deities! Thank you for looking after us!

– Kinley Choden

Blessed Journey by Kezang Tshering

Dzongda and Lam bid fair well from Trashigang. Photo credit: Cheki Dorji, Trashigang

In Bhutan, we normally begin our journeys after consulting an astrologer. On 12th March, under the leadership of Dasho Dzongda in the presence of sector heads, our team was blessed by Lam Neten of Trashigang. We were followed ‘til the end of the Dzong by them. At the last turn we began to wave our scarves, howling/shouting the sound “Aoooow”…. by both the parties indicating goodbye.

In 13 days, our team covered about 193 kilometers ‘til Trongsa Dzong. In this memorable journey, our team members were fascinated…by the large number of Desuup volunteers on every trail and the typical Bhutanese (Eastern Region) welcoming ceremony with tea, araa and snacks. The toughest journeys for us were, walking for 12 hours for two consecutive days and walking in the knee-length snow at Thrimshingla. Our team had the most wonderful time getting to knowing each other well and did what we do best because we showed that united we stand, divided we fall.

– Kezang Tshering

Villagers of Gomchu, Narang Gewog, offer traditional hospitality including banana leaf araa cups. Photo credit: Cheki Dorji, Trashigang

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