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The winter descent

Zam is from Lungu in Laya.  She is 28.  She has been in Punakha for more than a month.  Today, Zam and family are preparing to go back.

Zam, a mother of two school-going children, comes down to Gasa and Punakha every year with her husband and children.  While in Punakha, they pitch tents in Zomlingthang.  By March, they return to Laya.  On their way back, they stop near Gasa Dzong to spend the night.  By early evening, they will be back in Laya.

Butter, cheese, chugo (dried cheese) and incense are what Zam and her family bring down from the mountains to sell.  As Zam goes to sell the products at the Sunday market in Punakha, her husband cooks for the family and looks after the children.  That has been the routine these past five years.

Zam and her family have made Nu 200,000 selling livestock products from Laya.  It wasn’t a good business trip for Zam’s family this year.  On an average, the family usually makes anywhere between Nu 300,000 and Nu 500,000 a year.

“We spend about a month every year collecting Cordyceps,” said Zam, who prefers wearing kira while in Punakha.  She finds traditional Layap dress too cumbersome. “Back in Laya, I make it a point to wear our traditional dress.”

Zam and the family have 30 bags of 50kg rice, 40 cartons of cooking oil, six cartons of milk powder and several cartons of sugar, which they will take to Laya with them.  They are neatly packed, ready to be loaded on horses.

“I have 20 horses here,” Zam said. “We must make sure that we take enough for a year.”

Laya has changed, said Zam.  There is electricity and mobile connectivity and two schools.

By Dawa Gyelmo | Punakha

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