Laya is a remote Himalayan village at over 12,500 feet in northwestern Bhutan. Laya is so remote that there are no roads leading to the village; thus there are no cars. Instead, several trekking routes lead to Laya. On the route I took, a trail that has been used for centuries, it took two and a half days to walk there.
Two similar views of Masang Gang (approx 23,300 feet) in the background of Laya. Second photo taken during the morning hours.
The Layap (people from Laya) have their own distinct language, customs, and dress than the rest of Bhutan. This is because the Layap are ethnically related to Tibetans, as they were banished from Tibet in the 15th century, moving into Bhutan at that time. The Layap live today mostly as they have lived for centuries.
Tsenda Gang (approx 23,500 feet, might also be known as Tiger Mountain) in background of Laya. First photo of blog also of Tsenda Gang.
The Layap refer to their home as a “bey-yul,” a hidden paradise, protected by an ancient gate that leads to their village. Laya is surrounded by a few of Bhutan’s greatest snow-covered mountains, some at over 23,000 feet. We camped in the field of a Layap family home, were surrounded by hillsides scattered with stone-walled homes, and were lucky enough that these snow-covered mountains appeared during our stay in the village. What beautiful scenery!
Laya is known as Bhutan’s primary yak herding and breeding area, which is their main source of income. The yaks are used for items such as food (yak butter, cheese, and meat) and yak wool (used to make fabric for clothes, ropes, blankets, and tents). The Layap also grow turnips, mustard, barley, wheat, and other crops.
With an approximate population of 1,000, the Layap are a semi-nomadic people. They move between yak camps, the village itself, and down to towns at lower altitude in the winter, where the Layap will stay with host families, and exchange labor and yak products for a place to stay. One of my Bhutanese guides told me that “the Layap’s way of life is movement.”
Masang Gang in background of Laya. Monastery can be seen in left of first photo. Second photo taken in the morning hours.
After being away for a week on this trek, with a full day in Laya, and two and a half days of trekking on each end, I seemed to have gotten accustomed to not being around roads and cars. I seemed to have adapted to the remoteness of Laya. I literally forgot about cars, and did not think about them for that week. That is, until I saw my first car, which actually stunned me for a moment. It made me realize that there is a place on this Earth, deep in the Himalayas, that is worth the walk to get to. A beautiful place that has remained relatively unchanged for centuries.
Sweet (and remote) Travels!
Some of the information in this blog provided to me by two of my Bhutanese guides, Tobgay. And Pema Wangchuk. Thanks to you both!