I’m running a Marathon in Bhutan and, believe it or not, a postage stamp was the catalyst. When I was young I came across stamps from Bhutan, which were colourful and all shapes. My favourite was a circular stamp that looked like an old penny. In the centre was a hole so you could put it on your record player, drop the needle and it would play the national anthem of Bhutan.
I told my grandchildren that story recently and they thought it was hilarious. Roundy stamp with a hole? A needle to play music?
Anyway, I’ll be in Bhutan as you read this. First, a week of trekking in the Himalayas to a remote temple each day and camping at 4,500m. A week should cover acclimatisation, then down to 2,500m for the Marathon.
Bhutanese are the happiest people in the world, smoking is banned, men and women are equal, and visitor numbers are limited. I’m lucky to get a visa. So many positives, it could be Shangri-La.
Here are a few lines to set the scene from Ap Chuni Dorji, a yak-herder:
If I were to explain my place and paths,
It is on the high snow-capped mountains
And the highland meadow of sershog flower
Where flower buds blossom. There, my home is.
I graze on mountain grass,
And drink fresh water of glacial lakes.
Should I dance my happiness,
I dance along the base of distant meadows.
First published in Swindon Link