Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Fall Colors

No, not from the turning tree leaves (that will come) but from the colorful wreaths and decorations on display at the Portland Farmers' Market.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Tyrannosaurus Wrecks

We're back in Portland, Oregon, just in time to experience the demolition of the art school across the street - it will be replaced by a 16-story apartment building. Not a bad final result (the art school moved to nice quarters in an historic post office building nearby) but the tear-down is VERY noisy and vibration-prone. This shot captures some of the brutality of the process.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Bhutan Mushrooms

The Tharpaling Nature Trail in Chummey Valley, Bumthang Province, Bhutan is full of colorful mushrooms (and much other colorful vegetation). Some examples:

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Palace and Museum

On September 13 I posted a few pictures of the Ogyen Choling Palace and Museum in Bumthang Valley, Bhutan and its proprietor, Kunzang Choden. Her family owned the property for centuries, as part of the feudal nobility of the time. As things changed in the 20th and 20st centuries, Choden and her Swiss husband began converting it into a museum and hotel. A very talented and engaging woman, and a prolific author as well.

A few objects from the museum, reminders of life in past centuries:

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Beginning Art Students

At the Choki Traditional Art School on the outskirts of Thimphu, Bhutan. No chairs or desks, but a great deal of focus and intensity.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Zhiwa Ling Hotel in Bhutan

Yesterday's post on prayer flags was perhaps the proper spiritual end of the series of blog posts on Bhutan, but I have some other photos that deserve display on aesthetic grounds. Here are three from the Zhiwa Ling Hotel in Paro. The first is the detail of a carving on a column, the next two are in the temple of the hotel.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Bhutan Prayer Flags

Our exploration of Bhutan is over. We're in Amsterdam for a day, and will fly back home to Portland. In thinking about how to conclude this series of photos of life in Bhutan, I decided that prayer flags exemplify some significant part of the spirituality, color, beauty, and surprise of this lovely country. Here are three photos, which I haven't yet used, that serve as good examples.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Himalayan Wall

Wednesday, September 23

A brief post from the JW Marriott Hotel at New Delhi Airport. We flew here late this morning from Paro in Bhutan. Here is how a section of the Himalayas, poking above the clouds, looked from 38,000 feet.

On to Amsterdam tomorrow, and back in Portland on Friday.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Paro: Tiger's Nest and a Fancy Hotel

Tuesday, September 22

Our last day in Bhutan, and it was a big one. We drove very early from Thimphu to Paro, left our bags and ate breakfast at the hotel, and set off on our climb to Tiger's Nest Monastery. It is perhaps Bhutan's most famous site, and a suitable finale to our time in this beautiful country. It's a rigorous climb, rising about 1300 feet of steep trail, made more difficult by the rain that made the downward mud path quite slick in places. Our guide said we were the oldest people he had ever taken on this hike. After about seven hours we were up and down, and after a brief lunch checked into our hotel, the Zhiwa Ling Hotel, perhaps the most beautiful we have ever stayed in. It's listed by National Geographic as one of the unique lodges of the world.

The standard view of Tiger's Nest, seen from a rest stop below, 
dramatically situated on a sheer cliff and shrouded in fog.

A less standard view, at level, but still requiring 424 steps down and 
424 steps up before we could reach it.

Our group - driver Suba, Vic, Elsa, Edie, and guide Yeshey - with Tiger's Nest in the background.

The Zhiwa Ling hotel is adorned throughout with ornate, colorful carving. 
This is just a small sample of carved ceiling beams above a column.

The hotel has its own temple. We were unable to take photos inside temples throughout Bhutan, so I took this opportunity to show a little of the sumptuous statuary and rich color and decoration that characterizes all of them.

In the evening we were treated to a performance of traditional folk dances in resplendent costumes.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Arts in Thimphu

Monday, September 21

This is our last day in Thimphu. Early tomorrow morning we drive to Paro to climb to the Tiger's Nest monastery, have a farewell meal, and prepare to fly on Wednesday morning to Delhi.. We spent much of today visiting arts and culture institutions: the superb Textile Museum, the National Library, and a private art school for underprivileged teens. We finished with a tasty dinner at a Korean restaurant. A good day.

Clouds on the mountains over Thimphu after a very rainy night

Weaving student at the Textile Museum

Looking at a copy of "Bhutan", the biggest book in the world: 5 feet high, 7 feet wide when open.

National Library

First-year painting students at Choki Traditional Art School. 
Endless copying is the teaching method.

Advanced painting student at Choki Traditional Art School

Detail of a gigantic wall sculpture of Guru Rimpoche at Choki Traditional Art School

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Around Thimphu

Sunday, September 20

Today we visited a variety of interesting places in Thimphu, Bhutan's capital city. We started at the National Memorial Stupa, toured an incense factory run by guide Yeshey's father-in-law, viewed takins (Bhutan's national animal), visited a hand-made paper factory, went up to the about-to-be-consecrated tallest sitting Buddha statue in the world, took a pleasant walk along a hillside below the statue, and had a lovely dinner at Yeshey's home, where we met his family. A nice day.

Statue in enclosure in front of the National Memorial Stupa

Yeshey's father-in-law with workers in his incense factory

Bundles of incense sticks in front of the containers in which they'll be packaged

A takin: according to myth, the blend of a goat and a cow

Screening pulp in the hand-made paper factory

Some of the pretty results

View of Thimphu - a very attractive city - from the hills on the way to the Buddha statue

This is the tallest seated Buddha statue in the world: 169 feet high. 
His rice bowl can hold six men.

The Buddha is accompanied by beautiful Celestial Beings.

Mountain hut seen on our walk

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Thimphu Festival and Markets

Saturday, September 19

We left early in the morning from Wangdue to get to Thimphu (the capital of Bhutan) in time for the last day of the annual festival honoring Mahakali, the principal deity of Bhutan. We also visited an arts and handicraft center and the very large (and surprisingly clean) Weekend Market.

Early morning fog on the hillside across the valley

Dramatic clouds on the mountains near Wangdue

View of the seats for dignitaries and special invitees at the festival

Views of a few of the dancers, lesser protective deities. 
From where we were standing, it was not possible to get a decent photo of the dance as a whole.

A clown enters the crowd.

The chief organizer of the arts organization, with his portrait done in fabric

Detail of an extraordinary piece of woven fabric, done by a woman working at home

Sculpture in the small park across from the arts building

Vendors at the Weekend Market. They look worried.

Rice vendor at the market

These boys asked me to take their picture, so I obliged.