Dispatch, Bhutan: Cricket in Bumthang


Travel Weekly Editor in Chief Arnie Weissmann recently traveled to the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan. His fourth dispatch follows. Click to read his first, second and third dispatches.

BUMTHANG, Bhutan — By day five of our nine-day trip to Bhutan, my children had had enough of the adult world.

They patiently (for the most part) had toured fortresses, museums, temples and shrines. They endured with good hum

or (for the most part) adult conversation and detailed explanations that went well beyond their level of interest.

They experimented with foods strange to them. One day, they sat in a van for 12 hours without once asking, “Are we there yet?”

So when they finally saw some local children playing what, at first glance, appeared to be a form of baseball, my 8-year-old son begged to join them. (View a slideshow from Arnie's visit to Bhutan by clicking here or on the photos.)

Thus, in a muddy alley under threatening Bumthang skies, my sons learned to play cricket. The local kids were patient and good natured; they didn’t even get upset when the 8-year-old, during his first time up, split the piece of junk wood they were using as a bat into two. (The 10-year-old later split the board used as a wicket when he was bowling.)

I had recalled seeing a proper children’s cricket bat in a nearby general store, and ran over and purchased it. As for the wicket, the two pieces of split board were propped up next to each other — when the children remembered to do it.

All the kids were on their best behavior, sharing the roles of batsman, bowler and fielder in rotation.

Though baseball and cricket are profoundly different in most respects, there are enough similarities that my sons were able to adapt quickly (though on occasion they reverted to a swing-for-the-fences style of batting).

The ball frequently ended up on nearby roofs or flew over fences. My kids joined the locals in scrambling up and over any barriers to retrieve it.

The boys never again found a pickup game on the trip. But they did develop a strong enough interest in cricket to watch it on television each night before bedtime, regaining control of at least a portion of their day from the adults.

View a short video of the game below.

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