Walking home during lockdown

Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing

Two cousins, Meg Bahadur Tamang, 45 and Dhan Bahadur Tamang, 30 decided to return home in Tading, Samtse when they heard Meg Bahadur’s 70-year-old mother was sick.

They were working at a construction site in Samar gewog, Haa and were stuck after the nationwide lockdown on August 11. After seeking help from Samar gewog, the cousins were allowed to go home. But the permission allowed them to go home only “by foot” and in two days. They were asked to start on September 4 and make it to the destination by the next day.

  Ngawang Dramtoe team gets a meal after walking for more than 12hrs

Ngawang Dramtoe team gets a meal after walking for more than 12hrs

Meg Bahadur said taking the Haa-Samtse road on foot would have been too long, about 95km approximately. They decided to take the shortcut, the old cattle migration route.

They halted at the Sektena tshogpa’s house the first night.

On the evening of September 5, the duo reached Dorokha, exhausted and hungry. Meg Bahadur said the journey was arduous, as he had never walked the route. It also rained on the way as they crossed streams and jungles infested with leeches.

Dhan Bahadur said that their employer had also offered to send them in their vehicle.

“But vehicle was not allowed. That’s what the gup also said,” he said.

Although the duo had packed meals for the first day of the journey, they managed with zao (puffed rice) on the second day until they reached Dorokha.

In Dorokha, De-Suups and police spotted them and were reported to the drungkhag. Without relatives they were put up in a guesthouse.

“We would like to thank the drungpa for taking care of us. It was such a relief to reach Dorokha,”

The men were thoroughly exhausted and wasn’t even able to walk from Bazar Dara to the drungkhag, a Dorokha resident said. The drungkhag officials arranged a vehicle for them.

On September 6, the drungkhag put them on a vehicle until Halhaley, the road point that connects Samtse, Phuentsholing and Dorokha. From there, they walked more than 10kms to Panbari until they found another vehicle home.

Meg Bahadur said his mother is still sick and that he would have to take her to the hospital soon.

Meanwhile, another group of 10 men from Ngawang Dramtoe village in Tading also reached Dorokha around 11am on Sunday (September 6). They worked at construction sites in Paro and were stuck after the lockdown.

They left from Paro on September 5 in two taxis until Gakidling and then walked more than 30km, along the Haa-Samtse highway, from Rangtse Chhu until Dorokha.

In total, these 10 men spent Nu 25,000 of their construction earnings to get themselves to Gakidling, Haa from Paro.  One of them, Dorji Tshering Lepcha, 23 said it was 11pm when they reached Gakidling on September 5.

“We walked throughout the night and reached Dorokha on September 6,” he said, adding they couldn’t sleep on the way and didn’t get to eat.

“We are so thankful to the drungkhag officials who arranged meals for us.”

Dorji Tshering Lepcha also said that the drungkhag had arranged a vehicle to drop them to Tading the same day.

Kuensel also learned that more than 40 people of Samtse and Chukha had walked from different places in Haa to reach home. Meg Bahadur and Dhan Bahadur walked the longest to reach home.

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