Ah Paro, where our Bhutan adventure came to an end. I have to admit I felt a bit sad that our trip was ending. Since Bhutan is probably the most adventurous country we have visited, I wasn’t expecting to completely love it. Although, there were things I was super pumped to see when we arrived back in Japan, it didn’t stop me from feeling a little nostalgic for the simplicity of life that exists in Bhutan.
Our final two days were packed with hitting the last few sites before we headed back to Kathmandu. Although, Paro isn’t the capital of Bhutan it is still a rather large city and has interesting downtown and history. After arriving from Punakha around lunch time we started the afternoon at Kyichu Lhakhang, which is one of the oldest temples in Bhutan. Due to the fact that the country was preparing for many festivals, as the High Llama, was about to begin his journey from the Punakha to Thimphu, we came across a few monks preparing sacred cake for the festivities. Take a look:
We ended the afternoon at the Paro Rinpung Dzong, Paro Dzong and watchtower, which is located high up on a hill overlooking the Paro valley. It was pretty impressive and the views were stunning. We also managed to fit a trip in to the national museum. Although, it was pretty fab having a tour guide to explain anything and everything for us, it was nice to visit a museum to reinforce all the things we had learned along the way.
Our final day in Paro was saved for our biggest journey, a 900 meter hike up the side of a Himalayan mountain to probably Bhutan’s most famous temple, Taktsang Goemba, or otherwise known as the “Tiger Nest.” This beauty is literally nestled on the side of a cliff way up in the mountain. It was a full day trip and the only thing on our agenda for our last day, as the hike itself took around 3-4 hours one way. The altitude of the temple is around 3200 meters and is a bit of a work out for those that are used to hiking or climbing mountains. I think the worst part of this though is the altitude. I think I managed it fine, but poor John had some serious altitude sickness during our ascent to the temple. For those considering a trip they do have horses that will take you half way up the mountain, however, the last half is just as strenious as the first. Plus a huge decent down to a bridge to cross over to the temple itself. Meaning that there is a huge ascent up once you get to the otherside.
We were lucky (or unlucky) that May 5th is an auspicious holiday in Bhutan and therefore the pilgrimage to the Tiger’s Nest is a big deal for many Bhutanese, especially on this day. So you can imagine that it was a bit crowded on our way up. At first I was annoyed because there were hardly any situations on our trip that we had to share the experience with tourist or many people, so when we arrived at the starting point and there were literally hundreds of people I was a bit put off. However, in the end I have to admit that making the pilgrimage to Tiger’s Nest with the Bhutanese was a once in a lifetime expierence that I don’t think I’ll ever forget. Our guide told us that Tiger’s Nest is a temple that all people of Bhutan are said to visit at least once in their lifetime and is a very sacred journey for them. It really was a truly amazing expierence. And if that wasn’t enough because of the auspicious day a High Llama from Tibet was visiting the temple and not just any High Llama, this guy is the guy right below the Dali Llama…say what?!?! John got a good photo of him waving at us as he was headed down the mountain. Take a look:
After a tiresome day of mountain climbing (that reminded all too well of our Mount Fuji adventure and why I haven’t climbed a mountain since) we made a pit stop to watch some archery. Believe it or not Bhutan competes in the Olympics with archery and we met one of their Olympians. They even let us try it out. Needless to say I suck and have no skill for it. However, John somehow channeled his inner boy scout and showed off a bit…until our tour guide took the bow. Home boy had skill. We all had a good laugh at my terrible attempts though. We ended the day with some of Bhutan’s first craft beer and cheered to one helluva an adventure!
Of note, I got to celebrate 29 in two countries this year, Bhutan and Nepal. It sure beat last years birthday when I was stuck on a plane with two cats and John moving to Japan. I honestly can’t believe it’s been a year since our move aboard.
Six countries plus Hong Kong in one year. I’d say we are living it up the best we can! If I’m being honest I really can’t get enough of this adventure we are on!
Thanks for following along with me!
Until next time! Ja Mata じゃまた！