Our Long and Winding Road Through South and Central Asia

All Around This World South and Central Asia Musical Map

This week in our online class we look back with great joy on our last three months of travels in South and Central Asia. We sang songs about and fireworks and farming and love love love, we danced in circles and told tales with our hands, we wrestled, climbed mountains, and bathed outside to bid farewell to the rain. We started in India, traveled northwest into the heart of Central Asia, trekked to Western China and ended at the top of the world. Over the next few days we’ll revisit some of our favorite explorations and give a shout to a few we may have missed.

You Want to Go to Bhutan

Bhutan is indisputably beautiful, and you want to go there, so you should! But traveling to Bhutan is complicated. While Bhutan doesn’t officially keep quotas of tourists, foreign visitors must pay substantial fees to government-approved tour companies for the privilege. When you’re in the country, guides keep close track of your itinerary and what you do. That may be enough to dissuade you…but then you look at these stunning photos of the King’s coronation in 2008 and think, “Let’s go!”

Next week in our online class we reflect on all the places we traveled in South and Central Asia over the last three months.

 

Kids Can Play Khuru

Yesterday we joined Bhutan in celebrating Blessed Rainy Day, a unique Bhutanese holiday marking the end of the monsoon season. Yes, Bhutan is far away, but you don’t have to feel left out…you and your kids can celebrate Blessed Rainy Day wherever you are. We can pretend to take a bath outside, drink butter tea, eat thupka soup and, if you have it in you, PLAY KHURU.

Do you Speak Dzongkha?

Do you speak Dzongkha…? Well, why the heck not? The three most commonly spoken languages in Bhutan are Dzongkha in the west, Sharchopkh in the east — both Sino-Tibetan languages — and Nepali in the south — an Indo-European language, and the traditional language of the threatened Lhotshampas.

Bhutan’s New Music: From Rigsar to Rock

The majority of music performed in Bhutan today is still traditional, accompanying Buddhist rituals and/or celebrating the King, though in the early 1990s the newly opened Bhutan Broadcasting Service began to play music called rigsar that fused Western, Nepali and Indian sounds. Rigsar has slowly given way to other forms of Bhutanese pop and even rock. In this video watch groundbreaking Bhutanese rock band “Who’s Your Daddy?” performing a so-familiar cover at a music festival in India.

Bravo for Bhutan!

All Around This World map of South and Central Asia featuring Bhutan

This week in our online class we visit Bhutan, a landlocked, consciously isolated country high in the Himalayas that tries very hard to stay exactly as it is. For a country that officially values its’ economy’s gross national product less than its citizens’ Gross National Happiness…can you blame it? 
 
Of course, there are many sides to Bhutan’s story. Bhutan is on its fifth King but only its first democratically elected government. The ethnic situation Bhutan is complex — a hundred thousand Lotshampas currently live in refugee camps and accuse the government of human rights abuses. So the real Bhutan may not be Shangri-La. But don’t you still want to go

“Top of the World, Ma!” — Climb Everest with your Kids

We end our week of explorations in Nepal by climbing Mt. Everest with our children. How do we do this…other than CAREFULLY? Well, after introducing Nepal and Mt. Everest to our children, we imagine a triumphant climb in seven short steps:

1. Collect our climbing gear, meet a Sherpa guide, and a yak

2. Start with a 6-8 day trek from Lukla to Base Camp at 17, 600 feet.

3. Scale the Khumba Icevall and sleep at Camp 1

4. Go through the Valley of Silence (a glacial valley with little wind)

5. Sleep at Camp 2, Go through unfortunately-named “Death Zone” to Camp 3. (You can tell your kids about “Death Zone” or leave that one out.)

6. Summit! Start at midnight, rest on “The Balcony” and see the sun rise, summit is 28,700 feet.

7. Climb down in reverse. Go home and brag to all your friends.

See you in class next week — Bhutan!

Climb Every Mountain

Mt. Everest, known to Nepalis as Sagarmatha, meaning, roughly, “Goddess of the Sky,” and to Tibetans as Chomolungma, “Goddess Mother of the Land,” is the tallest mountain in the world. Every year hundreds of mountaineers from around the world attempt to reach the 29,029 foot high summit, enlisting Nepali Sherpa people to help them climb. In our online class we’re going to teach kids how to climb Everest using our imaginations. That means we can climb without Sherpas and yaks…or, with a hundred Sherpas and a million yaks.