On the road with Thin­ley


The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - MARYANNE PAGET

WOLL­STONECRAFT, NSW IT was a make-or-break moment. My hus­band and I flew into Bhutan’s Paro air­port for a twoweek tour with a driver cum guide. A fort­night is a long time. What if he drove like a ma­niac or was unso­cia­ble?

Thin­ley in­tro­duced him­self and placed a white silk khata scarf around each of our necks as a cus­tom­ary Bhutanese greet­ing. The tra­di­tional men’s dress is the gho, a long robe hoisted to knee length and held in place with a wo­ven cloth belt. The men also wear knee-length socks and leather shoes, train­ers or trekking boots. Thin­ley was dressed just so and looked strik­ing.

What was he think­ing of us two se­nior ci­ti­zens? Surely he reck­oned we would never make the hike up to the Tiger’s Nest, Bhutan’s most fa­mous monastery. Af­ter all, he had ac­com­plished the Snow­man Trek eight times — it’s one of the most dif­fi­cult in the world with a du­ra­tion of 25 days and a max­i­mum el­e­va­tion of more than 5000m.

He was charm­ingly diplo­matic when we asked about the Tiger’s Nest. ‘‘Some clients do and some don’t,’’ he replied. We de­clined.

Thin­ley was a de­light. He ar­rived early each morn­ing, with a spot­less ve­hi­cle ready to do bat­tle with the poor roads and armed with the timetable of road clo­sures for con­struc­tion. He also never ex­ceeded 40km/h.

My hus­band and Thin­ley shared ‘‘boys’ stuff’’ as they watched sport­ing events such as archery and an out­door darts game called khuru. I mar­velled at the rhodo­den­drons and the beauty of forested moun­tains. We shared end­less cups of tea on a har­mo­nious ad­ven­ture. Send your 400-word con­tri­bu­tion to our Fol­low the Reader col­umn: travel@theaus­tralian. com.au. Pub­lished colum­nists will re­ceive a $100 voucher for Colorado shoes. Colorado (now stocked by Wil­liams stores) spe­cialises in men’s and women’s life­style footwear. More: colorado.com.au; williamsshoes.com.au.

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