I ventured out on a hike to see what I could find. Initially I headed up the western bank of the Thimphu Valley, taking what appeared to be the main road thinking it would take me the furthest. I walked several miles through residential neighborhoods and was turned away by armed guards from a couple of palaces or official government offices. That was ok though, I finally found the Thimphu zoo, or rather a sort of sanctuary for the official national animal, the takin. Apparently, these animals were originally put into captivity for display purposes but this was met with opposition as it was inconsistent with Buddhist belief. They were therefore released but they either didn't want to leave, or couldn't figure out how to return to the wild. So rather than risk these animals being injured or starving, back up went the fences and a little development to support their upkeep. I'll try and get a photo posted.
I continued on a cross country trail over a ridge to a "dzong" a religious place of worship. Here I met a elderly monk with betel nut filling his mouth so completely, I considered the possibility that he was bleeding, the color of his teeth and saliva was that red. You can't help but smile back at them. Trying to be respectful and considerate of the Buddhist beliefs, I tread lightly across the lawn to view the large, ornately decorated prayer wheel placed within an a cupola type structure. Being the observant one that I am, I knew that each spin of the prayer wheel constitutes one reading of the prayer included within. Still trying to be as inconspicuous as possible, I felt obligated to participate in local custom. I stepped up to the wheel, grabbed the handle and gave it a spin, clockwise of course, as I had previously noted was proper. I neglected to note however the stick protruding from the top of the wheel which, once every revolution would strike a brass bell hanging in exactly the right spot. My presence obvious now to all of western Bhutan, I quickly stepped down, looked around to see if I was going to be reprimanded by the monk, and headed down the trail back to town.