Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Rafting over Pho Chu

The day as expected was pleasant. Had it not been for the sunny day, we would have missed the thrilling experience or might not even have embarked the adventure in the first place only.

My brother and his friends have planned for a week end rafting adventure and no sooner did I hear his plan, I asked if I can join them as well. I was so happy and excited, that he considered my request and that, finally I will get to fulfill one wish from my wish list.

We began our drive towards the starting point, upstream of Phochu, Samdingkha in a hired cab. It took almost 30 minutes to reach there from Khuruthang town. Fourteen of us had to wait for another 30 minutes or so for the raft and the tour guides to return from the early trip.

Finally, the team arrived with the rafts and we followed them to the bank. While they pumped and set the raft for our thrilling trip, we readied ourselves wearing safety head gears and life jackets. I didn’t know who wore the life jackets on an earlier trip, but the smell and the deodorant seemed too strong; even to a sinusitis, and all joined to second the fact (including the tour guides, for they gave stingy smile over our say, lol).

Now, with rafts ready and rafters camouflaged with red jackets and white head gears, we sit for the safety briefings from the tour guides and group formation. We had seven second and third timers from a group of fourteen; a sigh of relief that we can raft till the stoppage with less trouble or else, no trouble. We split ourselves into group of two; seven in each and set ourselves for safety briefings.

After making sure that all of us are well equipped with safety gears, all in place and properly fastened, he calls for our attention. His greetings were short, but precise and I was not surprised for I understood that it’s his one usual spell of his daily routine, which by now seemed well rehearsed and mastered.

First thing he did was inform us about the river difficulty/Grade of difficulty of the river we were set to raft. Phochu that day looks swollen and we were not surprised to hear it falls under grade 4, cautioning us to be careful and informed. The rivers were classified from grade 1-6, based on the level of difficulty in rafting.

We were told how to grip our feet’s inside raft? How to stay afloat with the live jacket? How to make use of the paddle and the safety rope, if at all unexpected things occur? How to keep calm, if at all you see yourself thrown out of the raft? And most informative was, how to read the guides command, like FORWARD meaning; to paddle, STOP; to stop paddling and HOLD: danger awaits you, stop paddling and hold yourself tight. “You all are my engine, and I am your steering. We all have to work as a team” this line of his sound so encouraging and affirming, that we will enjoy the raft and it will be one hell of fun. After a bit of paddling practice and synchronization, we were on board and off we set for the adventure.

The guide slowly pushed us towards the current and we maneuvered with paddle after his command. With the first Eddy at sight, all were tensed, except for the two guides and those second and third timers. Everybody maintained their composure and faced the eddy anxiously. On command, we made forward move and maneuvered towards a smooth flow were everybody engulfed a cool breeze to sigh over the first of many such rapids of its kind.

Our fear of rapids and currents dimed slowly, and started enjoying every bump the raft made with the rapids, and with the every splash of whitewater over our body, we were hungry of more rapids. Slowly all got accustomed to the rhythm of river and the fun part began. Next moment we hear the tour guide commanding STOP, we began our water fights wetting even the remotest and cornered body parts. The most enjoyable of all was the maneuvering through the rapids stretching from Punakha Cremation ground till the confluence of Pho chu and Mo chu.

Having successfully navigated through that stretch of rapids, we took a short break on the bank of the confluence. There we clicked some pictures with Punakha Dzong in background; some swam while others took rest over snacks.

And we resumed our adventure before making our final stop below Damchen resort. The day began well and ended well too. Though we were later informed of two casualties in the morning and in another incident; a man drowned in Mo chu, somewhere near Zomlingthang on the same day. 


  1. Hi Pema, enjoyed going through your write up, however you must be extra while rafting during summer monsoon.

    1. hello Norbu, Long time, how have you been? Thank you for visiting my blog.
      Yeah it was risky, i heard about the mishap only afterwards..hehe

  2. I mean you must be extra careful, well I am at Gasa, Bjishong middle Secondary School.

    1. Ok Norbu, and i am sure it will be kinda first and last experience..hehe

  3. Hi Wangyel sir, it's always worth giving a try. Nice that you did it. What happened with me was that I couldn't join my office friends on rafting as I scare water for I cannot swim and never took a chance. Anyway, it's worth experiencing.

    1. Sangay,
      You should have given a try. The fear of water and the rapids last only for a while, once in, you starts enjoying. we had ladies with us, who at one point even didn't like us discussing about the rafting and rapids, but later they, after crossing few rapids, enjoyed a lot.
      So i suggest you give a try, all you got to do is listen carefully to the commands of the raft guides.
      Looking forward to read one such experience of yours soon..hehe..Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving a comment. Have a good day!

  4. Have not seen you after you left wangdue. Through Norbu Wangdi I have been scanning through your blog and found many inspiring articles. Thumbs up! man. Great job.

    1. yeah, it has been quite a while that we didn't see each other. Till then hope you are doing good and regards to your family. Also, thank you for finding my articles inspiring and finding time to read, though my articles lack that insight which may at all have that effect..hehe

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