The awkward little disorganized reception at airport, TSN restaurant in Paro town welcomed us for the lunch. The pure vegetarian meals free of garlic, onion, spring onion and leek should be something different for the change. Paro Rinpung Dzong was the first to be introduced to the group, built by Zhadrung, the official name Rinchen Pung Dzong means the fortress on a heap of Jewels. Besides holing a place for defending the Paro valley in earlier times, to this days it houses both monastic body and district government offices. 54KMs Paro- Thimphu only impeccable highway ride in Bhutan gave them a sound sleep from long sleepless journey they would have had from Singapore to Paro. The siren free Thimphu welcome gate at Babesa did not care to wake up few and some of them started their shutter, aperture business. The welcome tea at Tara Phendeyling hotel sparked the silent we were on and checked decked the luggage. The Edelweiss restaurant in town served us the dinner for the day. The frosty BBS tower was not welcoming to the group from plains but was a treat for few camera holders.
Buddha Dordenma, the huge 69 feet tall statue overlooking the Thimphu valley sprinted the program for the day. The three storey throne holds numerous altars while 125000 smaller statues of Buddha are filled inside the giant Buddha’s body.
Built in 1974 as a memory to the “King of modern Bhutan”, the third king Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, the memorial stupa holds seat of Vajrakilaya Mandala. Centrally located the shrine invites old, young, lovers and not to forget, the tourists. The group were more expedient with future Buddha, the Maitreya Buddha.
According to Buddhist tradition, Maitreya is a bodhisattva who will appear on Earth in the future, achieve complete enlightenment, and teach the pure dharma. According to scriptures, Maitreya will be a successor to the present Buddha, Gautama Buddha.
The next before lunch was the 12th century fortress like temple, Changgangkha Lhakhang. Initiated and built by Lama Phajo Drukgom Zhigpo, the temple has root traditions that parents come to get their propitious names and seek protection from the local deity Tamdrin. The Orchid restaurant served us similar meals we had other day. The different was a fried eggs. Bhutan post and ambiance inside was not surprising and enthralling to the group. I presumed it was because of the limited variation products it has except for posting own photo which was again of not respectable quality at Ngultrum 300. Introduced Bhutan handicrafts and National dress at Royal Textile Academy. Zhabdrung’s museum has embarked on them the history that has unrolled over the time. Few women weaving live has delighted their mood and camera shutter. The evening was at one of the local host my sister place, as per the plan we had the ball rolling and the event was something good to start and somewhat different any tourist would get to experience. The host Azhim Lhamo and family has the ambiance created well, gathered family and friends. We had received blessings from the group in their tradition, the Heavenly Tao. Praying and blessings from Maitreya Buddha. It’s a secret scared and I am not sharing the whole process. “Dinner better than we get in restaurant” many uttered as we resign for the day. Thanked the generous host.
Checked out at 8:30AM from hotel Tara. Ascending gentle uphill crossing the checkpoint at Hontsho, the group stopped at Dochula (3140M). The guide commented, the magnificent Druk Wangyal Chorten at Dochula was built (2005) to honor the fourth king and to those who lost their lives during the flushing out, the militants in southern Bhutan. Descending down through pine and lusty green, driver padding the brake at certain bumpy road, enjoying the Chinese songs from our guide Dawa Choden and the guests was out of the box. Punakha Dzong was the last before lunch. The Punthang Dechen Phodrang (Palace of great Happiness) stands majestic at the confluence of Phochu and Mochu. The male and female rivers. Commentary done and history narrated Lunch was at Damchen Resort at Khuruthang town, initially not in plan. The bad meals we had in the tour. Sorry for my clients. The driver and guide’s meals were even nastier. The next before dawn was hiking Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten, 7KM away from Punakha Dzong. The 30M tall stupa was consecrated at 1999 and informed them it is dedicated to the fifth, the present king and to the prosperity of the people in Bhutan. Walking through green-yellow paddy field, taking picture, sweating we perched ourselves at the top of the Chorten for group photos. Returning was not that hard, we made on time and seen many Indians gowned in swim suite for rafting. Dinner was at Hotel Lobeysa, and the hotel was at Zhingkham Resort. This was a stupidity of me. The night view of the Puankha Valley and the Dzong in essence from the resort was treat to the obdurate dinner time.
Started moving from resort at 8AM, greeted school going children and got to halt at Punakha Central School. The last Eh AW Sang with Punkha Dzoong as backdrop bid farewell to the valley. The tea break at Dochula was romantic for some and freshening to others. Group were introduced to the Druk Wangyel Lhakang. The fusion modern and traditional setup at the temple has murals of the king and king battling at jungle among others. Lunch was again in Thimphu town at The Cousin’s restaurant. The same menu I would say. Then out of blue, visited 200 surprise shop located at Jattu Building. They sell wide selection of Japanese and IKEA products ranging from stationeries to accessories to toys to decors to bags to cosmetics to gardening tools to utensils to skincare, kitchenware and glassware.
The same program we had in my sister place was replicated again at my place with different set of audiences. The Heavenly Tao blessings. Ema Goh explains the affinity, virtues and the good merits we had has brought us all together and thanked those present. The program was well marked and ended with no dinner to everyone.
I just realized that I did not have dinner when my tummy crawl for the food. Started early I went to the Ibest institute, have the program initiated. ESV and my guests would like to thank two bosses and the employees of the company for hosting us, making the event successful and in all blessing Heavenly Tao. Cross Road restaurant was a pleasant place for the lunch. We checked into Wang Sisina Nunnery and spent some time witnessing the prayer chanting from nuns. Impressed guests donated few amount and headed to Paro. Souvenir shopping and dinner again at TSN restaurant. Raven’s nest resort was cocoon for the night.
7:30AM started our day from resort and begun hiking the Paro Taksang, the Tiger’s Nest, one of the UNESCO world heritage. Slow pace, gentle and grouped together we made on time and inside took more than the planned schedule for the luxury time we had with us. Returning back, half way we had our lunch at Taksang Cafeteria. Another few hours gentle roll down cramped for little shopping at the base camp. Checked into hotel to find out there was no light and hot water to be supplied from outside on buckets. “The first ever experience in my entire travel experience” pronounced one of the member. The only in-house dinner planned for the group for good reason.
The 7th day. Started with my local scarf gifts to all the guests and Ampao (tips) from group to us, two drivers, two guides and myself. The engine sparked and ignited to move on, half way through I gave a small farewell speech and then continued with few songs from our female guide. A silent battered for a while and trollies set to bid adieu. A final handshake and last eye contact until next time when it’s a good time.