Walk­ing with sheep

This Star2 Travel reader and restau­ra­teur didn’t quite dance with the wolves but still had an ex­pe­ri­ence to ‘ baa’ about.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - TRAVEL - By HUCK SENG star2­travel@ thes­tar. com. my

I’VE al­ready had three amaz­ing and dreamy nights in Gim­mel­wald, in the Ber­nese High­lands of Switzer­land. I pon­dered what to do next. Per­haps go for a walk?

Be­fore I knew it, I found my­self in this pa­rade like no other. I was walk­ing with the sheep ( in other ar­eas, it might be cows or goats or a mix of an­i­mals) all trot­ting in a line. It was the an­nual Al­pa­bzug ( also called De­salpes by French- speak­ing Swiss) pa­rade – where farm­ers and their fam­i­lies and an­i­mals de­scend from the Swiss Alps, where they had spent four months, to head back to their farms. Ev­ery­one on the route would cheer them on and some­times the an­i­mals would even be “dressed up”!

I wasn’t sure what it was then, or where they were head­ing to, so I just fol­lowed. We walked over a few bridges and past a breath­tak­ing wa­ter­fall and then into the woods. At one point, the bridge was so nar­row and long, the sheep had to be calmed down and slowly herded across.

I asked the farm­ers, in English, where they were head­ing to but they just smiled be­cause of the com­mu­ni­ca­tion gap.

There were times when a few sheep strayed to the other side of the meadow to join some other farmer’s sheep and cows. Some of the chil­dren quickly ran af­ter them and got them back in line again. Even af­ter an hour, we were still walk­ing, with the farm­ers hap­pily chat­ting, ac­com­pa­nied by the sound of the sheep- bells ring­ing. I was be­gin­ning to think it might be too late for me to walk back to my ac­com­mo­da­tion at Gim­mel­wald Pen­sion Ho­tel. All I had wanted was to quickly snap some pic­tures of the pa­rade; I was not wor­ried as I was sure the farm­ers would di­rect me later.

Sud­denly, there was a small truck and the peo­ple in­side it were hand­ing out bot­tled drinks to ev­ery­one. I didn’t take one be­cause I was too shy. Later, I learnt that it was the way the vil­lagers wel­comed the par­tic­i­pants.

Fi­nally, af­ter “hik­ing” a bit more, I saw a small yel­low sign on the trail say­ing Stechel­berg. I was happy as I was pretty sure that meant it was not too far from the ca­ble car stop. I was proven right as I saw a yel­low bus like the one I had taken pre­vi­ously, when I first ar­rived at the Lauter­brun­nen Train Sta­tion.

I bade farewell to all the farm­ers and their fam­i­lies af­ter they had sent all the sheep through the gate by the fence nearby. Some of the chil­dren were im­pressed that I had com­pleted the whole Al­pa­bzug with them.

I was amazed my­self when we reached Stechel­berg about noon. I had hiked for more than two hours from the 1,363m- high val­ley of Gim­mel­wald in just my walk­ing sneak­ers, with­out hik­ing stick or shoes.

I re­warded my­self with a won­der­ful lunch – the grilled lo­cal lake fish, the forellen ( trout), and a par­fait for dessert. From ex­am­in­ing the fish while I was eat­ing, I kind of fig­ured out how they had grilled it. I loved the crispy skin! It turned out to be the best fish I had ever eaten in my life. Now I have in­tro­duced this same fish in my menu but pre­pared in a dif­fer­ent style.

Sa­ti­ated, I de­cided to not take the bus but in­stead walk an­other kilo­me­tre to the ca­ble car stand where I took the ca­ble car back to my ho­tel.

Walk un­afraid and with con­fi­dence – and you will get a new ex­pe­ri­ence!

the views ex­pressed are en­tirely the reader’s own.

With a lot of sheep and some farm­ers for com­pany, as well as amaz­ing views like this, the Al­pa­bzug pa­rade is quite a sight to be­hold.

the beau­ti­ful Swiss vil­lage of Gim­mel­wald in the Swiss Alps.

— Pho­tos: huCK SENG

When the sheep pass through the vil­lages, peo­ple come out to cel­e­brate the Al­pa­bzug pa­rade.

the ‘ baa- baa train’ goes troop­ing along on nar­row trails on steep moun­tains.

this ( trout) re­sem­bles the fish that was grilled in Stechel­berg, and earned rave re­views from the writer who is a chef him­self.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.