Bhutan – Arrival in Paro

Bhutan.
“Land of the Thunder Dragon.”

We boarded our flight from Bangkok at the most inconvenient time of 4:45am (24 Oct 2013) for the 3 hour flight to Paro, Bhutan.
The final descent through the valleys leading up to Bhutan’s only international airport, is exhilarating, with the aircraft flying so low, barely skimming over the top of the treetops.

Druk Air (Bhutan's national airline) at Paro Airport

Druk Air (Bhutan’s national airline) at Paro Airport

Paro Airport is tiny.  Not long after exiting the plane, we were greeted at the entrance by our tour guide, Dorji, and our driver, Jamtsho.
Piling into their spacious Toyota Prado 4×4, we were whisked away through Paro valley.

Paro Valley - filled with farmhouses and rice paddy fields

Paro Valley – filled with farmhouses and rice paddy fields

Dorjo warned us early on that Bhutan’s roads were notoriously bad.  Poorly built, bumpy, rocky, with narrow mountainous roads prone to damage from landslides and hardly maintained.
“It’s like getting a good massage!” we were reassured.

Himalayan Mountains – in the distant left, the snowy peak of Bhutan’s highest mountain, Gangkhar Puensum He wasn’t wrong.

He wasn’t wrong.
Car travel in Bhutan is slow.  Painfully slow.  I don’t recall our speedo topping more than 50km/h on the whole trip.

Typical village houses along the main road through Paro Valley

Typical village houses along the main road through Paro Valley

As we bounced through town, we watched a typical Bhutanese morning roll by.
Men, women and children all passed us by wearing their traditional Bhutanese dress.
Farmers were harvesting the fully grown rice stalks then laying them down to dry out in the autumn sun.

Farmers harvesting rice stalks by hand

Farmers harvesting rice stalks by hand

Since we had had an early breakfast on the plane, we decided to forego breakfast in Paro and proceed to our first destination, Drukgyel Dzong.

Drukgyel Dzong - an ancient fort on top of a hill overlooking Paro Valley

Drukgyel Dzong – an ancient fort on top of a hill overlooking Paro Valley

Ruins of Drukgyel Dzong - built in 1647 in commemoration of Bhutan's victory over a Tibetan invasion

Built in 1647 in commemoration of Bhutan’s victory over a Tibetan invasion

The dzong was burned down by a tragic fire accident in 1951, leaving only ruins

The dzong was burned down by a tragic fire accident in 1951, leaving only ruins

Then it was a short drive to the Kyichu Monastery.

Kyichu Monastery - built by the Tibetan king, Songtsen Gampo

Kyichu Monastery – built by the Tibetan king, Songtsen Gampo

Prayer wheels - spun by walking clockwise around all Bhutanese religious sites

Prayer wheels – spun by walking clockwise around all Bhutanese religious sites

After visiting the Paro National Museum (where we couldn’t take photos), we visited Paro Dzong.

More on that in the next post.

Visited 24th October 2013.

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About starksepicadventure

We are Andrew and Lakshi Starks, young married couple from Melbourne, Australia. We are travelling around the world on our Starks Epic Adventure!
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