Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The highlight of the trip

Posted by Hippo Bean at 10:30 PM

Finally the highlight of the trip. We stopped for an early lunch at a new hotel just outside Paro, right at the start of the trail to the Tatksang Monastery. The hotel was beautifully decorated in Bhutanese style. Of course. Fantastic veggies again. The chicken this time was curry. The garlic beans were gone in an instance. At the hotel, we lifted up our heads to admire the Monastery perched on the side of the hill, high up in front of us. It seemed so tiny and oh so far up. It reminded me of Meteora. Then we began our hours long hike up 900m to the Dzong, the Tiger's Nest. The first part of the hike wasnt too bad. It's steep but not long. It took me about an hour. At the halfway point, we stopped to rest at the teahouse and I had free lentil soup that was very salty, excellent to replenish the electrolyte. The view of the Dzong from here was really not close enough or as impressive as I've expected. I was a bit disappointed. From the online images I've seen I thought this area bigger with closer view of the Tiger's Nest. The next section was really steep but shorter it seemed, but still it only took me about 45 minutes. The view became better and better as we climbed higher and higher. Then came the 478 stairs down. At this point the view of the Dzong was stunning. We paused for photos. At the bottom of the stairs, more stairs led to the Dzong's entrance. Up we went. The terrace of the Dzong offered a sweeping breathtaking view of the Paro valley. I couldnt believe we've actually climbed all the way up. The Dzong consisted of 3 separate halls and the cave where Guru Rinpoche flew to on the back of a tiger. Nothing too impressiv inside. So why there was a guard at the entrance to make sure no one went in with a camera, and we had to leave our belongings at the lockers? Back down it took me about 1 hr. All the reviews I've read over estimated the time and the difficulty of this hike. Nonetheless it was a good thing I brought my hiking boots. I also bought a hiking stick in the shape of a phallus. Everyone made fun of my hiking stick. I gave it to L who wanted to take it home. I did carry-on only for this trip so I couldnt take the stick home anyway.

By the time we returned to Paro, it was already dark. On our way to the hike, we drove through the town of Paro and the buildings on the main street were very beautiful, Bhutanese style, and I had wanted to take photos of them. But now it was dark and we wanted to do some more shopping. We had some time to browse the shops and the Dzong was illuminated at night but my poor camera just couldnt get enough
light for a photo. Pity. We dined at a local restaurant, very small, at the heart of town. The chicken this time was boneless. Namgay and the driver Dam ate with us finally. They even ordered a spicy curry for themselves.

Thus ended the month of October and our visit to Bhutan. Good wholesome food, lousy breakfasts and hotels, but gorgeous unique architecture. Excellent hospitality, refreshing mountain air, beautiful unpolluted nature, friendly people. Fantastic country indeed. That last evening I watched the Bhutanese TV showing the young king and his various visits to different parts of the country. He showed a genuine concern for his people and land, and his unique idea of Growth National Happiness did seem to work, as hard as their lives might be, the people seemed happy and the country clean, unpolluted and unspoiled. The last Shangri-la indeed.

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