Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Thimphu is a huge City!

After having stayed in Samtse for a few months, Thimphu feels like a huge city. I had a real good experience here in Bhutan and it will be a sad moment when I have to leave this place. I'm pretty sure that I'll have a major reverse cultural shock back home in Switzerland. So please stay with me and accept that it'll take a bit of time for me to get started.
The days in Thimphu are busy. Debriefing at the Helvetas office, meeting with officials, business guys, and friends, writing reports, and just enjoying the last few days in Bhutan.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

One Week!

Today in a week, I'll be on my way back home to Switzerland. Time is running and there are so many things left to be done. The workshop is almost over. Was a good week, we have been struggling with JavaScript and Kara and folks have learned a lot.
On Saturday, I'll be moving to Thimphu - the capital. I'll have a debriefing at Helvetas and will try to meet as many folks as possible. Catch up, exchange ideas, and try to initiate new projects. Next Wednesday, I will then move back to Paro and then on Thursday, leave Bhutan.
I had a really good time down here although sometimes, I had to fight. Guys, I'm looking forward to get back home! And I'm as well looking forward to come back to Bhutan ;-).

Monday, July 17, 2006


Guys, let me just post a bunch of pictures taken during our workshop. Well, it's the proof - I'm still wearing my Gho ;-). The workshop is running well and I have a lot of fun. This morning, I started with the Ted Stevens video and tried to argue that experience knowledge is really, really important. Then we got started with JavaScript and folks started to mess around. It's great to observe how everybody gets started!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Weekend - and Net Neutrality

I'm really happy that the weekend has approached! First week of the workshop is done and I have a good feeling! Folks have fun and learn new stuff - although you always need more time than planned - but that's ok. Exercises for next week are in the process of being created - so it should work out nicely.
A few hours ago, we went to Paro town to get a few grocery; I got even bread! And tomorrow, we plan to go up to the Tiger's Nest; should be a fun trip. After all that HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, I have to do something else for a few hours so that I'm ready again for the second week of the workshop.
Right now, there is a pretty fun debate going on in the US: net neutrality. Washington is all over that subject and even folks that probably haven't touched a computer before try to influence that debate; have a look at Senator Ted Stevens. Hehe, was well worth waiting to get that small movie to Bhutan ;-)!
Let me post a few pictures from the guest house that I'm currently staying at - amazing!

Washing Gho ;-) Posted by Picasa

Friday, July 14, 2006


Woww, that was an intense week - and is not yet over - it'll continue tomorrow morning! The workshop is rolling well although it is a pretty heavy task. I get into the computer lab by at least 8am and try to get the infrastructure for the day ready (installing programs...). By 9am, my participants show up and will have a session in the morning. I'm either presenting or helping out with problems. Then lunch at 12 noon (oh boy, the food was really hot today!) and back to the lab as soon as you are done. Then again session from 1pm to 4pm. Answering questions, solving problems, and advising. And then after 4pm sessions with guys that have special wishes. And then going home, getting food, and make sure that you are ready for the next day.
Yesterday, I helped one of the guys to get started with Apache / PHP - and stayed in the lab until 7pm. Without a break, we rushed to dinner - and then by 9:30pm, I was finally back in my apartment...
The participants are doing a great job and it's a lot of fun for me! During the first two days, we dealt with Kara. Folks really got into it and once almost forgot to get lunch (we were late by half an hour!). Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday were spent on HTML / CSS. It's really good to see folks mess 'round with those two technologies. Everybody got started - even the folks that were afraid that they will have a hard time. So I'm really happy with how it is going so far.
I'm using Eclipse as an HTML / CSS / JS editor. Well, I'm not sure I would choose it again if I could go back. Some people got started nicely, didn't have any problems with the project management, and could take advantage of the nice auto completion and syntax highlighting. Others got completely lost with the project management - and I had to help more than once.
Tomorrow, we'll have a high level introduction in JavaScript and then on Monday we'll start to mess around with JavaScript. I'll start out with JavaScriptKara and spend probably the whole Monday with JavaScriptKara. Then on Tuesday, I plan to integrate JavaScript into HTML. We'll see how it'll work out!
All in all, it's a pretty intense time - but I'm learning a lot! There are not even two weeks left here in Bhutan. Now, time definitely starts to fly!! So many things left to be done, so many people left to be met. Guys, I'm looking forward to meet you very soon! Enjoy vacation and have fun!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


The pics of my trip up to Paro can be found at http://picasaweb.google.com/sam.zurcher/BhutanJuly06. My workshop is going well although it is a pretty heavy time - I feel like dead in the evening. But it's a good time!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Arrived in Paro

Guys, I had a good trip up to Paro. It's only about 210 kilometers but the trip took eleven hours. In the morning, I got up at 5am to clean up my apartment and to get ready. Well, I was pretty tired yesterday night and didn't manage the watch the world cup final (I went to bed after 70 minutes...). Paro feels like a huge city - after having stayed in Samtse for almost three months. On a side note, Paro has about 3000 inhabitants... - it's funny to observe how fast your perception changes and your mind shifts.
The trip was nice and I took a lot of pictures - tough I haven't yet loaded them onto the computer - so you will have to check back later on.

Today, my workshop started. Kara goes Bhutan! The first day was good and folks were playing around with Kara. I might have to slow down a little bit as we go along - but that is ok and I more or less knew it before I got started. I have to go to bed really early today because this afternoon, I got really tired. Well, I'll be probably dead after those two weeks. A two week long IT workshop, I'm organizing and teaching it on my own, and I have 12 participants. Uff.... - but that's ok, I'm learning a lot! Well, I'm probably by years the youngest one that is 'participating' in the workshop...
Guys, have a great week!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Last Pictures from Samtse!

The second computer lab - well, it took me a whole day to bring all those computers back to life!

It was David's birthday yesterday - and we had a really good cake, momos, and other traditional food! Posted by Picasa

Friday, July 07, 2006

Last days in Samtse

Guys, this is almost my last day here in Samtse; I'll be leaving this Sunday morning to go up to Paro. In Paro, I'll be organizing a two week long workshop for the FIT (Functional IT) Lecturers - it's gonna be a lot of fun. I was preparing like crazy during the last couple of days and have a good feeling now. I'm confident that I'll be able to help out and get some ideas across.
My time here in Samtse has been really good and it is not entirely easy to leave. I got in contact with a lot of good folks and have just learned a lot. Today, two Australian guys from UNE arrived - and I realized how much I probably have changed during my time here. It was really good to talk to them and exchange experiences.
Wednesday night, the institute organized a farewell dinner for David, Joy, and me. It was lovely, we were another time chief guests, and I even had to give some sort of a speech. Well, I just told them that I have learned a lot down here and that I really appreciate having had the chance to stay in this environment. And I'm looking forward to come back and to not have to get started anew. It is just astonishing how fast you can adapt.
I have not even three weeks left down here in Bhutan. Things get wrapped up and impressions get put into place. Upon returning back home to Switzerland, you might have to kick me now and then. It might not be easy for me to start again back home - the reverse cultural shock might take control. But that's ok - that's as well part of the experience.

Sunday, July 02, 2006


Today was my last shopping day here in Samtse; I'll be leaving Samtse next Sunday morning and will move up to Paro. In Paro, I'll be organizing a workshop for lecturers. Will be exciting and I'm looking forward to it - but it'll be a busy time...
Shopping is a little special here in Samtse - different from what I was used to from back home. Well, you don't go to Migros or Walmart but instead to the Sunday market. Vendors come from India and sell you whatever you need; bananas, tomatoes, chili, beans, carrots, ... Buying stuff turned out to be a bit difficult in the beginning because

  1. I'm not speaking Hindi
  2. I'm not used to bargain
  3. I'm a stupid chilip (= western guy in Dzongkha) and everybody realizes that within half a second
But I got used to it and it is amazing how fast you can adapt and something feels like you have done it for ages. I'm still not speaking any Hindi - but I figured out how to communicate with them; most of them understand English numbers and how much - and that's about all you really need ;-)
Last week, we walked up to the top of the mountain that is next to Samtse - it's an awesome place because you get a good overview of what Samtse looks like. Was a hard fight to go up there - but it was worthwhile! Guys, have a great weekend and enjoy life!

Samtse - the place where I have been living for the last couple of months.
Joy and David; my Australian friends.
Prayer flags and Samtse.

Samtse again...
Walking down.

Sunday market; getting tomatoes

Puffed rice!

Need new clothes?
Sunday market from far!