Travels in the Kingdom of the Thunder Dragon

Posted in News on June 7th, 2019 by One Greenstone
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Punakha Dzong

 

I am still glowing from our trip to Bhutan, it does have that effect!  We saw some awesome sights and learnt some incredible stories of the life and culture of the Bhutanese.  Our journey allowed us to get up close and personal and immerse ourselves if we wanted to, otherwise the variety of flora and fauna and fascinating village scenes kept us entertained.  I feel a little closer to the Gods.  On reflection, the mountains of Bhutan are that kind of place.  It is hard to pick the best parts, but here are some of my personal highlights, I hope you enjoy!

  • Seeing the Himalaya reveal her snow dusted peaks in the sunshine, through a break in the clouds while stopped at the very pretty pass of Pele La.
  • Being rewarded after some long drives like visiting the giant statue of Guru Rinpoche, high up in the valleys in the remote Lhuentse region and being the only tourists around.
  • The “Beautiful Birds of Bhutan” and “Flowers of Bhutan” books being passed around the bus, and the very good luck of having some resident enthusiasts in our group to help us enjoy the spotting of new species of flora and fauna on our walks and drives.
  • Wild Horses
  • The four valleys of Bhumthang were a pleasant surprise and quite rightly earned the nickname the Switzerland of Bhutan. My favourite was Tang Valley and especially visiting Ogyen Cholyen, somewhere I could stay a while.
  • The day we visited the Royal Heritage Museum in the towers of Taa Trongsa and then the magnificent Trongsa Dzong below. The setting is incredible, on the crossroads of the East and West, Ancient and Modern Bhutan, the whole experience of narration, guides and movie, with the written and visual interpretations all excellent.
  • Tasting all kinds of new foods and combinations that were offered to me! The wonderful and sometimes weird, who knew I would enjoy eating tree ferns, bamboo shoots, cheesy chilli beans, or cheesy potatoes with chilli?
  • The approach to the ancient temple of Ghompu Kora blew me away. A serene place, prayer flags at the riverside, with lovely gardens of flowers in bloom and seats for devotees in colourful robes to rest and meet, the temple floor being weathered and worn, incense burning, offerings made and the walk outside on smoothed rock steps where people have been walking since before the temple was built in the 7th century!
  • Walking through the fields on the local track past farm houses and allotments, free ranging animals, village stupa, a suspension bridge and the imposing Monasteries at Jampey Lhakhang, Kurjey and Tamshing.
  • The battle of the Dzongs continued with the magnificent Dzong at Punakha. The historical significance, strategic location and awesome entrance an indication of the grandeur inside.
  • The Mother and Father rivers.
  • Buying souvenirs from the roadside stalls coming out of the Phobjika Valley. The most relaxed shopping experience, just having a walk and photographing the hillside beyond as it had the most beautiful hue from blooming Rhododendrons.
  • Noticing how often the moral of the four spiritual friends was depicted, with Buddha and his disciples in their former lives as a bird, rabbit, monkey and elephant. Often seen painted in temples and on walls, on greeting cards and even at a traffic round-a-bout.
  • The huge achievement of all of us making it all the way to Tigers Nest! It was harder than I thought it would be but so worth the exertion.  I felt proud and humbled.
  • Being lucky to have such lovely travelling companions, getting to know new friends, and seeing others making new friends too.

And more…so many things that made me happy in the magical Kingdom of Bhutan.  I hope I can visit again!

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