Final day of our 4-day tour of Bhutan!
This morning would see us hike up to the legendary Taktsang Monastery, better known as “Tiger’s Nest Monastery.” Although a horsehide was an option, our guide Dorji assured us the walk is the more authentic pilgrimage and taking a horse was “cheating.” Mind you, we did pass a few Chinese tourists struggling on their little horses!
The climb was quite tough at this altitude and we picked up quite a sweat! The path is lined with colourful prayer flags with many glimpses of the view above and below which made for some spectacular photo opportunities.
Once we reached the main photo vantage point, we got held up by a rather selfish Indian couple who had decided to attempt every pose combo available, while several people had to all queue patiently, sweating it out in the sun.
Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take photos inside the monastery, but we got the grand tour within the buildings and grounds. There were several small rooms with a Buddha statue feature and numerous colourful lanterns, flags and other items filling each room. All rooms were dotted with butter lamps and filled with donations of crackers, butter, noodles and other snack foods.
We passed a few maroon-robed monks who stay at the monastery, as well as police and security keeping the tourists in check. It wasn’t that busy, which meant a nice and serene stroll around.
Then we were off again, back down to Paro town for a quick visit of the local market before closing time. I think we missed the main action, but there were still some vendors with an assortment of recognisable and some rather funky looking fruit and vegetables.
Our final dinner was at a traditional Bhutanese farm house with a family who were good friends with our guide, Dorji. Again, no photos, but we were first treated to a traditional hot stone bath in the farm shed areas. We had a private room (with a tattered curtain for a door), and individual stone baths. The hot stones were heated on a fire prior, and we could put how ever many we wanted to adjust the temperature. Our temperature choices were either scalding, boiling or “ow ow ow ow ow…slowly lower myself…ow ow ow ow”.
Twenty minutes was enough to relax our muscles from the morning’s hike. We had dinner upstairs in the farm house, sitting on the floor and sharing food and conversation with our gracious hosts. The food was delicious and spicy! The famous Bhutanese chilli cheese is SUPER spicy, even for us seasoned spicy food lovers. Still, we had to try everything! Although, butter tea is not high on our favourites list. But what better way to end our truly magical trip in Bhutan!
Bhutan definitely tops the list (thus far) of unique, culturally different and scenically beautiful places we have ever visited. We implore anyone who desires to visit such a special place in the world, to come and witness Bhutan for yourselves. You will never experience another place like it. The history and culture is clear to see, with people’s clothes, buildings and farms seemingly unchanged from a time long gone. The people are so warm and friendly. It really is the “happiest place on Earth!”
We did a 4-day all-inclusive tour with Bhutan Mountain Holiday. We were able to plan our own itinerary beforehand with the manager, Karma, through prompt and detailed emails. Then during our tour we were given flexibility to change plans around and spend longer if we wanted which is a testament to our awesome guide, Dorji and driver, Jamtsho, who looked after us very professionally and with a smile. We highly recommend you check them out:
Visited 28th October 2013.