Sonam at the town's grocery store
Sonam at the town’s grocery store

“Hello! Can I practice my English with you?” she asked.  I heard this high-pitched voice from across the street and when I turned around, all I saw was a small wooden shack that served as a mini grocery store in this tiny town in Bhutan.  “Over here!” she waved.  Her beautiful big smile greeted me and she introduced herself as Sonam, a Bhutan-born Nepalese girl whose family ran the store.

Sonam and her sister in their modest home
Sonam’s two sisters in their modest home

That afternoon, I met her two sisters and we chatted about boys, American movies and funny stories about their teachers.  I think kids are the same all over the world.

Welcome to the family!
Welcome to the family!

During a drive to a nearby monastery outside of Punakha, I met this wonderful Bhutanese family who shared that they’ve never had a family picture taken of them. I took a few shots and then I mailed them copies when I returned to the U.S.  The funny part was that they insisted I had to be in every picture!  “You are now part of the family,” the patriarch said to me.  They were so kind and hospitable, inviting me to tea and biscuits afterwards.

This is the biggest prayer wheel I've ever seen in my life.
This is the biggest prayer wheel I’ve ever seen in my life.

My driver knew a handful of English phrases including “Hello,” and “It’s time to go,” and “You may eat that.”  Although his English was limited, he was always so gracious during the 12 days I was in Bhutan, and we learned to communicate by reading each other’s facial expressions and using a lot of sign language.

I love the grin of the girl on the far end on the right
I love the grin of the girl in the red skirt

I loved the kids I met along the way!  One time, I walked in the middle of a field to see the town stupa.  Suddenly, around seven children showed up out of nowhere and we had a blast taking photos and singing songs.

Who can cheer the loudest?
Who can cheer the loudest?


Trumpeter's call to prayer
Trumpeter’s call to prayer
Monks in a doorway
Monks in a doorway

I enjoyed visiting the temples in Bhutan mostly because of the people-watching.