Friday, October 26, 2012

Friday, October 26, 2012

To Punakha

Posted by Hippo Bean at 10:00 PM

Breakfast was a bowl of oatmeal, juice and toast. There were apples and small bananas that looked like plantains on the table. the oatmeal tasted salty and adding jam and bananas only made it worse. We asked for eggs and finally some plain omelette came in a slow pace.

The morning was crisp and cold. The valley under a blanket of thin fog. And I remembered someone who said about the mornings in Bhutan.

Today we traveled to Punakha. We went past the Paro Dzong and the airport again, then past Thimphu, the capital, and climbed up to 3200m, passing through fields blanketed in rice terraces, and scattered villages. I just couldnt get enough of the Bhutanese houses. They are unlike anything I've seen. All have windows framed in the Bhutanese architecture and a roof that extended out like in Bhuddist temples. We made a stop at the Dochu La Pass with a grand monastery and a group of 180 chortens and prayer flags everywhere. The day was clear but the distant Himalyas were covered in morning clouds. We lunched near the Pass and the buffet lunch was again chicken, with loads of veggies and lentil soup, very very good. We continued our journey descending into the Punakha valley, and the climate turned warmer, and the landscaped changed from forests of pine and oak, rhododendron, alder and cypress to tropical cactus, oranges and bamboo. We stopped to make a short hike to the Chimmi Lhakhang, the 'Mad Monk' Monastery, built in the 15th century by Lama Drukpa Kuenley, the controversial monk who was believed to have subdued the demon of the Dochu La. The trek took us through the village surrounded by golden fields of hay. The monastery was also called the fertility monastery and here the Pallus was everywhere, painted in every house. People came to be blessed by the monk anointing you with a wooden phallus. We caught the young apprentice monks chanting their mantras in the monastery. Our hotel the Meri Puensum Resort was a beautiful stone structure including an enormous prayer wheel, situated on the side of the hill. The rooms were in small buildings scattered on the side of the hill, some offering grand views of the river valley below. We were again offered tea and biscuits, this time in a big gazebo in front of the main building. A very nice area to relax and take in the view. However, my room offered no view and a wall in front of the window. Dinner again was chicken (what's with their chicken dish with bones), rice, noodles and never ending veggies and chili and cheese. I didnt mind the lack of variety as the food tasted superb and was very satisfying. Again the evening was cold and the room didnt have any heat. But under the extra duvet, I was warm. I've really enjoyed this first day of travel in Bhutan.


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