Neten Dorji | Trashigang
Twenty-four scouts picked from 20 dzongkhags and four thromdes completed the trek along the Trans Bhutan Trail from Haa to Trashigang yesterday.
His Royal Highness Gyaltshab Jigme Dorji Wangchuck awarded medals and certificates to the participants during the closing ceremony of Trans Bhutan Trial scout walk yesterday.
Walking in the footsteps of ancestors, the young scouts, aged between 18 and 23 years, crossed 12 passes. From Haa in the west to Trashigang in the east, the trail connects nine dzongkhags and 27 gewogs. The team walked 403km of the entire Trans Bhutan Trail within 38 days.
Officials from the Ministry of Education said that the mission of the Trans Bhutan Trail scout walk is to connect Bhutan’s past, present and future. “This walk is to give an opportunity to connect the present revived trail and the past that was created,” said an official. “The scout walk is a pilot programme for the Gyalsung National Service.”
According to officials, the experiences of the scouts and the findings will be instrumental in developing the Gyalsung experiential learning curriculum.
“Through the National Service, 13,000 Gaylsungs will walk the trail annually. Within a generation every single Bhutanese would have walked the Trans Bhutan Trail,” said the official.
The aim of the scout walk is also to promote socioeconomic development in local communities along the trail that includes waste management, volunteers helping on farms, renovating a community centre, and tree plantations, among others.
Sonam Choden Tshering, a scout representative of Thimphu Thromde, said that it gave her an opportunity to see different cultures and interact with different communities.
“I never thought that we had such beautiful cultures. As a Bhutanese, it is important to know and explore the Trans Bhutan Trail at least once,” she said. “Our ancestors have faced a lot of challenges along the routes. I am really proud of our ancestors.”
Walking along the old route, she said, climbing up and maintaining sanitation were the main challenges for females. “I thought of withdrawing but the team encouraged me. Now,I felt proud of myself that we completed the walk together,” she said.
Another scout representative of Trashiyangtse dzongkhag, Dawa Gyeltshen said walking this trail, he felt how ancestors have struggled in the past.
“I can’t imagine how they walked this stretch from dzongkhag to dzongkhag carrying their own essentials,” he said.“Through walking, I got enough knowledge to describe my own country.”
He said that for those who want to know more about the culture and traditions of Bhutan, the TBT is a worthy experience.
Pema, a representative from Bumthang dzongkhag, said that the journey was difficult and infested with leeches, bears and other animals. “I came to realise Bhutan is small but a long journey. It allowed me to reconnect with our cultural heritage and explore different nature.”
The Trans Bhutan Trail Scout walk is conducted in partnership with the Bhutan Scout Association, the Department of Youth and Sports and the Ministry of Education. The group is the first to walk the entire trail after 60 years.
Trans Bhutan Trail, an ancient 403 kilometres trail that passes through Haa, Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, Wangduephodrang, Trongsa, Bumthang, Mongar, and Trashigang.