Monday 29 October 2012
The wind was howling when we reached the top of the pass.
Cheli La, above Paro, Bhutan
The wind is howling around our ears and the sound of hundreds of prayer flags is all around. Tightly packed together on the crest of a mountain, we have driven up to Cheli La, the highest pass in Bhutan accessible by road. The clouds have parted in the late afternoon light and the sunlight dances across the flags as they are tormented by the wind.
Earlier in the day we had visited an art school where we saw students learning to produce religious art and then driven an hour or so back to Paro and the airport. Our hotel had commanding views over the airstrip and the imposing Paro Dzong. After lunch, we began the long drive up to the pass. Leading to the Haa Valley, the road was not particularly busy which was a good thing given how narrow it was in places.
Up the top it was quite cool. At a tad under 4000 metres, Cheli La would be an inhospitable place in winter, but today, the flags were simply magical. While there are no guarantees with the weather, it is a great place to photograph. Wide-angles fit in the mass of flags, but a telephoto can be used to discover great angles and patterns which can be further enhanced by a slow shutter speed.