Monday, January 29, 2007

Verdict: Bhutan, Land of the Thunder Dragon

Image from Dancing Monks of Prakhar-Copyright 2006 Tewfic El-Sawy

Here's a short debrief about my photo expedition, Bhutan: Land of the Thunder Dragon, which I organized and led this past October-November. The duration of the expedition was 14 days, and we formed a group of avid 8 photographers. I set up the itinerary with the assistance of Jachung Travel and Eagle Tours, which were extraordinarily competent.

The expedition's main objectives were to intensively photograph the tsechu festivals of Jambay Lakhang and Prakhar in the Bumthang valley of eastern Bhutan. Here's a link to my expedition's itinerary: Bhutan expedition

The Prakhar tsechu was an incredible cultural and visual experience, with literally hundreds of photo ops happening each second of the event. The organizers of the festival were gracious and hospitable, keen to welcome us as visitors and photographers inside the dzong itself, and making the dancers available for our cameras.

In contrast, the Jambay Lakhang tsechu was fraught with difficulties. The swarm of tourists, the site of the dance itself and the inhospitablity of the organizers all made it a far less enjoyable and rewarding experience than we hoped for. The Jambay dzong is an excellent spot of candid photography, but that's all.

In short: two thumbs up for Prakhar and two thumbs down for Jambay!

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