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Tuesday, 01 September 2009

Bhutan's Monasteries and Festivals - Page 5

Written by Christina Kay Bolton
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Bhutan really is unique in the world – its culture is one of the most well preserved in the world.  As a tourist, I felt I was almost stepping back in time.  Some of this may be due to the fact that television wasn’t allowed into the Buddhist kingdom until 1999, so, unlike most places; western culture has yet to take over. Another factor is that traditional Bhutanese dress is required in both school and the workplace, so one always sees the women wearing their Kira’s and the men in Goa’s.  Western style clothes are often worn by the youth on weekends, but the older folk tend to wear the Kira or Goa year-round.

 

 

Day 8

Bhutan's Monasteries and Festivals, the Unique Buddhist Kingdom, Sacred Himalaya Travel, travel bhutan, Thimpu Tshechu festival, Bhutanese culture, Wangdue Phodrang Tshechu festival, www.sacredhimalayatravel.com, Christina Kay BoltonI met my new guide and we headed back to Paro to hike to the famous Tatsang (Tiger’s Nest) monastery which is perched on the side of a cliff high up on the rock face.  It was a 3-hour hike up on a switchback path that turns to many, many stairs as you get close to it. It’s incredible that they were able to build the monastery way up there – carrying all the stones and materials up must have been so tedious and treacherous especially since they’ve only had the stairways about ten years and before that there was only a small rail you had to hold onto as you negotiated the path.  On the way down we stopped at the tea house 2/3 of the way up the mountain for a good lunch with a great view.  We stopped in Paro for a bit of shopping before heading back to Hotel Silver Pine.

Day 9

We embarked on a long 6-7 hour drive on a narrow road from Paro to Phuntsholing which sits on Bhutan’s southern border with India.  About halfway there the road got considerably Bhutan's Monasteries and Festivals, the Unique Buddhist Kingdom, Sacred Himalaya Travel, travel bhutan, Thimpu Tshechu festival, Bhutanese culture, Wangdue Phodrang Tshechu festival, www.sacredhimalayatravel.com, Christina Kay Boltonworse and was littered with landslides. There are large landslides here every monsoon that block the road and they were still cleaning up from this years’. Sometimes taxi’s will drive up to the landslides on either side and the passengers will walk across with their things and switch taxi’s to continue their journeys, which seems like an ingenious solution.  No tourist traffic will go through though, so don’t plan this route from May to the beginning of September. There is no need to take this overland route unless you’re heading to Darjeeling, Assam, or Sikkim.  For anywhere else you can easily fly from Paro which I would definitely recommend.  Even for Darjeeling check if you can arrange a flight because Druk Air (Bhutan’s only airline) does advertise flights to Siliguri although I was not able to buy one when I booked my trip as they were not sure if they would continue that route. There’s really nothing in Phuntsholing anyways and it’s very hot. I stayed at Hotel West End which was the only place on the trip that I needed AC which thankfully they had.

Bhutan's Monasteries and Festivals, the Unique Buddhist Kingdom, Sacred Himalaya Travel, travel bhutan, Thimpu Tshechu festival, Bhutanese culture, Wangdue Phodrang Tshechu festival, www.sacredhimalayatravel.com, Christina Kay BoltonI learned so much on my trip about Bhutanese culture and really got a feel for the Bhutanese people and their way of life.  My only regret is not having gone trekking.  If I were to do the trip over I think I would just go to one festival (as they are all quite similar) and instead do the 5-6 day trek from Paro to Thimpu and spend another five days or so in the towns. The longer treks such as the Snowman are considered some of the best in the whole world.  Also, exploring eastern Bhutan would be high on my list as I heard great things about the Bumthang valley as well.  I really enjoyed my journey and felt a profound sense of peace and ease from the very first day I arrived in Bhutan.  I’d highly recommend it as a destination to put on your list. If you go – be sure to ask for Tashi as your driver at Sacred Himalaya Travel.

www.sacredhimalayatravel.com

 

©Christina Kay Bolton

 

(Page 5 of 5)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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