We had planned a weekend excursion to Punakha, the former capital of Bhutan. But the Himalayas had other plans, and surprised us with a spring snow. With the 10,000 foot Dochu La pass to Punakha closed, we bundled up and headed out for the girls first ever snowball fight.
This was actually the first snowfall of the year in the Thimphu valley, and a national holiday was declared by the King. Early in the day the streets were packed with merrymakers, all wishing us a “happy snowfall”. Groups of Bhutanese, young and old, faced off on opposite sides of the road and pelted each other with snowballs. At home I would be concerned that Stella might get caught up in the crossfire as we made our way through town. But with typical Bhutanese politeness, every group we passed would ask “would you like to play?” before targeting us. Taxies with snowmen frozen to their roofs roamed by, occasionally launching a snowball from an open window.
Even the memorial Chorten, normally a site of solemn prayer and meditation, got caught up in the playful antics.
I’ve never seen such a festive and happy celebration of a snowfall. It’s as if the entire city spontaneously reverted to 8 year old children, free from school on a snow day.