Punakha And Paro Bhutan

After talking to the King yesterday, which was the highlight of my journey in Bhutan so far, I headed to the gorgeous Punakha and the amazingly stunning Tiger’s Nest in Paro on my last few days in Bhutan.

Morning fog in Bhutan
Another nice view in Bhutan.
A white stupa like the one I saw in Nepal just a few days ago.
Land is allotted to Bhutanese and most of the people use the land for farming.  

Before we reached Dzong of Punakha, we went to the temple of fertility. In that same town, I saw many ‘interesting’ paintings on the exterior of the houses. The tour guide said, ‘this is our tradition to paint a phallus on the exterior of the houses. We believe this will bring fertility to the people living in the house.’

House after house, I saw huge paintings of the phallus. OK, I got it.

The tour guide asked me, ‘you don’t like it?’

I frankly answered, ‘not really.’

The tour guide laughed, ‘most of my European guests laughed when they saw these paintings and they said they liked them.’

I said, ‘er… sorry, but I don’t…’ 😅

He laughed again.

He wanted to take me to a temple where I could again see large paintings of phalluses. I said, ‘no, it’s ok. Let’s head to the next destination.’

We left that town earlier than scheduled and continued to go to Punakha.

Guess where this is? Punakha. Another famous tourist’s spot. The King got married here the year after I visited.
Another photo of Dzong of Punakha.
I just find the composition of this photo quite interesting.
Inside the dzong
One of the buildings inside the immense complex
Didn’t I mention that I love the design of the windows?
It is indeed a beautiful place!
The bridge to the building
Somehow, this photo reminds me of a photo I took on my way to Kazbegi in Georgia.

The next day, we headed to Paro where Tiger’s Nest is. We stopped here in the morning. It’s a very photogenic place. Probably most tourists don’t share the same opinion. My tour guide was confused when he saw me spending more time here taking photos than in other places.  

I was taken to this place in the morning. I believe this is another temple but I don’t remember the name of it.
It should be a temple. If I remember correctly, there were seats inside especially for the king and queen.
The staff who took care of the place. He let me take a photo of him. His badge has the image of the King.
Another picture of the little towers
I don’t remember the purpose of this place.
The tour guide probably didn’t expect me to stay in this place for that long. I actually spent more time here than in other touristy places.
I remember the tour guide was curious about what I was doing and why I took so many photos of them. I really like the contrast of man-made architecture and the nature.

After spending some time at that site satiating my thirst for artistic photography, we went to watch an archery game.

An archery athlete. He did look very professional. I like archery myself. I may have a soul from the Medieval times. Hm… I think I said it in my blog about Mont Saint Michele here
I found this lama in the crowd.
Before the archery game, the athletes sang.  
OMG! 😱
Flag of Bhutan. Yeah! I finally got a picture of it.
I quite like the composition of this photo.
This is my tour guide. I don’t know what they had been talking. They looked very happy.
I should have taken a picture of the name of this place. I really don’t remember it.

The next day was a half day hiking day and it was another highlight of my trip. I was going to Tiger’s Nest, which is the most famous and revered spot in Bhutan! I was so excited but the day started with some fog and it was a bit cloudy.

Not long after we climbed up the hill, a dog suddenly emerged.

I remember you! 😊

It was such a nice dog. It wasn’t following us around. Rather, it was leading us.

I said to the tour guide, ‘look! It’s showing us the way to Tiger’s Nest!’

The tour guide answered, ‘I think it just wants food.’

The dog never ever asked for food. It turned around a few times to check if we were following it. It was so cute! It really thought it was the tour guide. 😄 I think my human tour guide was just jealous of it. 😄

Speaking of my tour guide, he was in general quite nice but it was sometimes quite annoying to hear him asking me the same question again and again. I really mean the same question, word for word. (I think he did that again on our way to the palace. Now, I remember I was a bit annoyed when I reached the guesthouse at the palace. While it was true that I was disappointed when I reached the palace, I was actually more annoyed by the same questions repeated by the tour guide.) Oh, and he kept telling me he wanted to visit America and how he thought America was a great country.

We stopped here for a rest.

The dog kept walking. At first, I thought we lost it. After a while, the dog came back for us. That was so cute!

Can you see Tiger’s Nest hidden behind the trees?
This is a bit clearer.
On our way up, we saw other temples. I just realised that my tour guide looked as if he had only one leg in this photo. He was walking down and his other leg was bent getting ready to take the next step down. It is so funny. Photographs can be quite deceiving sometime.
Inside the temple

We stopped at a site where I could play some ‘darts’. (I don’t remember the details) I needed to make a wish while I played it. If I could hit the centre, my wish would come true. I remember standing very far away from the stone and I was told to stand in a certain way or I had to do something peculiar. I forgot the details. Anyway, I remember it was hard and I needed to have a second attempt. The tour guide told me to concentrate. I did it the second time. The tour guide then asked me, ‘what did you wish for?’ I said, ‘I was so concentrated that I was only thinking about hitting the centre of the stone.’ The tour guide then said, ‘there you go. Your wish came true. You hit the centre.’ Great!

It reminds me of those ones I saw in Lake Namutsuo in Tibet
Another hidden temple. It was carved out of the rocks.
The spectacular Tiger’s Nest! This photo was exhibited in my second solo photo exhibition. It was nearly sold but the couple decided to buy my other photo I took in Israel instead.

No photo taking was allowed inside Tiger’s Nest.

When we reached Tiger’s Nest, the fog was gone. As for the dog, it had left. It stopped at a place where it met its doggie friend. They were sitting side by side. It’d not go any further. So, I said farewell to it.

When we headed down the hill, the dog didn’t follow us or lead us. Its mission was accomplished for the day. It earned its rest. 😊

Tiger’s Nest from afar
On my way down the hill

It wasn’t a long day at all. I still had some time to rest before the farewell dinner organised by the tour company. I remember I was joined by the owner and the staff of the tour company and other guests whom they received. It was an interesting night. The tour company gave all their guests some gifts too. Oh! I have to mention this! One of the staff from the tour company looks so much like Adrien Brody! I wasn’t the only guest who told him this. He said, ‘I don’t play the piano though.’ 😄  

Remember the flight attendant who gave me his contact and invited me for dinner? I couldn’t make it, apparently. But I sent him an email after my trip. A few years later, his relative needed to have a business trip near my place so we connected and I took his relative around. He gave me so many things from Bhutan including Bhutan whisky. Yes, they do have whisky. In 2020, I chatted with a Scottish whisky expert. When I first told him about this, he went, ‘where?’ I repeated, ‘from Bhutan.’ It was interesting to see his first response. He probably dreamed about the taste or googled it after I told him.

Flashback to 2010, my last night in Bhutan, the hotel arranged a traditional dance performance for their guests.

The hotel arranged this traditional dance for their guests.
I went to the backstage.
Goodbye Bhutan!
The Himalayas!
I was so close to it!!

That ended my journey in Bhutan.

As I wrote this blog, I found an IG post about the 4th King of Bhutan which quoted what he once said, ‘…as far as you, my people, are concerned, you should not adopt the attitude that whatever is required to be done for your welfare will be done entirely by the government. On the contrary, a little effort on your part will be much more effective than a great deal of effort on the part of the government…’ very well said.

He is the king who introduced Gross National Happiness. He was indeed wise beyond his years.

The current King, the one I talked to back then, continued his father’s work and introduced more changes to the country. However, we all understand that changes need to come gradually. He is doing exactly the right thing for his people. If something changes too quickly, people will not be ready for it, mentally. I read an article about Bhutan as I wrote my blog. The reporter commented that Bhutan was changing very slowly. I don’t know if that was a positive comment or a negative one. If it was negative then I think the reporter didn’t understand how ‘change’ works.  

I remember speaking to one of my friends in New Zealand many years ago about immigrants and discrimination in the country. She commented that New Zealanders didn’t really hate the immigrants but there was a sudden influx of immigrants into the country within a short time at one stage so the locals didn’t know how to deal with it. Hence, problems arose. People were not ready for it. As long as the government dealt with it properly, it shouldn’t be a problem. I totally agree. If you look at the problems we have nowadays, how many of them actually stem from past issues? And how those issues were handled in the past? How were changes introduced? I met up with this Kiwi friend again in New Zealand years later after this conversation to attend her wedding. 😊 I will talk about it later.

After this trip in 2010, I’d go to a very ‘famous’ place which you can see in the news all the time now in 2021. Stay tuned. 😊

10 – 13 November 2010

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