Early one morning during a recent stay at COMO Uma Punakha, I followed a neat crocodile line of smiling schoolchildren, who were picking their way over stream and rock, past the local shrine and on to the village school, high above the hotel. They were immaculate in traditional dress with combed and braided hair. I offered them a handful of sweets from my coat pocket, impressed by how they divided out the treats, shyly and fairly, amongst themselves, bending down to retrieve stray wrappers. We passed gaggles of older teens, members of the Desuung volunteer corps — on their way, they said, to repair the Trans-Bhutan Trail. This ancient trade and pilgrimage trail dates back to the 16th century and extends 403 km; west from Ha near the Chinese border to Trashigang in the east. Before the first and only tarmacked road was built in1960s, the Trans-Bhutan Trail was the nation’s life-blood. For centuries, messengers, or garps, delivered news and mail on foot, running through the mountainous route, across flood plains and gorges. A section of the route threads through the valley, close to where I was staying, hence the brigade of volunteers. Many of them had helped rebuild the trail in the Covid-19 lockdown, but now a minor landslide was impeding passage. Brief encounter and exchange although this was, it was enough to offer a seductive glimpse into a society whose Buddhist beliefs, and spiritually-powered, non-materialistic practices of compassion are woven into the fabric of daily life. It contributes to the sense of a cohesive community, where the young and old are united by a common outlook and purpose. It’s perhaps why travellers cannot help falling in love with the place.