Bolero pickups and motorbikes have increased in Lhamoizingkha, Dagana, but the old and common mode of transport of riding bicycles among farmers still exists.
Unlike in urban areas, where people bike for health and fitness reasons, it is a necessity for farmers in the locality.
Although some farmers have shifted to modern bikes with hip exteriors, most farmers in far-flung gewogs still own the tall and weighty Hero Jet bicycles.
Hero Jet is affordable compared to boleros and motorbikes.
Lhamoizingkha is considered one of the hottest places in the country but it doesn’t bother the residents.
Recently, the temperature soared to 40-degree Celsius.
Some remove their shirts and continue cycling, while some even carry umbrellas.
Sunday is the time to see villagers flock the old Lhamoizingkha town but their destination is Kulkulay Haat, a small Sunday market in Kumargram, India, where people go to buy their weekly rations.
A farmer, Maita Bahadur Limbu, 46, has travelled all the way from Nichula.
It is 5km to Lhamoizingkha from his home and it is another 7km to Kulkulay Haat.
“I have been riding a bicycle since I was young,” he said.
Hero Jet cycle costs Nu 4,000 across the border. Farmers say it increased from Nu 1,500 to Nu 1,800 about six to seven years ago.
Carrying a bag full of grocery items bought from Kulkulay, Maita Bahadur Limbu said riding Hero Jet kept farmers healthy.
“However, today, so many people have left bicycle for bikes and boleros,” he said.
Another Hero Jet owner, Nima Sangay Sherpa, said a bicycle is the most affordable transport in Lhamoizingkha.
“Bicycles have been here for a long time now,” he said. “I rode it from a young age.”
Nima Sangay Sherpa also said that bicycle was more accessible and easy to carry and move around.
Dilip Pradhan, who has come from Thimphu a few days ago, said riding a bicycle is a culture in Lhamoizingkha.
He said he still preferred cycling the huge Hero Jet whenever he came to Lhamoizingkha.
With bicycles, Dilip Pradhan said farmers would not require following the timing for travelling, unlike motor vehicles. “Farmers also save money. A farmer can save Nu 100 every Sunday if he rides a cycle to Kulkulay.”
Climbing onto his Hero Jet, he said it was difficult to ride as he had lost the experience.
He said he would still not give up, as it was a healthy exercise to burn some calories.
As Lhamoizingkha shares its border with Kumargram, India, bicycle, many say is a practice borrowed from the neighbours across the border.
Rajesh Rai | Lhamoizingkha