Punakha to Thimpu to Paro
Day 2 starts with us heading up Dochula Pass to the 180 Stupa’s (well 108 really), a great view of Everest and the mountains through the clouds its a lovely scenic drive and we are fortunate as well to catch a few Himalayan monkeys playing in the tree’s. We have a walk round, take in the monastery, have a nice cup of tea and some crackers, run into another person off out flight and then head back into Thimpu where we visit the library for the Buddhist written texts, biggest book in the world (Guinness world record holders and proud!), then we go to the post office… I wondered why until I found out I could have had a photo with my head on the stamp! I gave that a pass.
Another lovely dinner at the Aroma restaurant, Bhutanese certainly like their melted cheese that is for sure. After lunch we start the drive to Paro and en route we stop at the last iron bridge in Bhutan which is now being conserved, its quite interesting and we walk across the modern wooden bridge to take a better look.
There are a few things you notice in Bhutan, on every bridge and in the hillside and all around the place are flags, they are everywhere, blowing in the wind. These are the written prayers and apparently the wind helps to spread their blessings across the country to the animals and the birds and all people. The signs at the side of the road are an interesting contrast, ‘Speed thrills, but also kills’, ‘If you are married, divorce speed’, alongside similar anti drugs, tobacco, and other messages being sent out to the country along with the prayers blowing in the wind. Perhaps its working because I don’t see many if any people smoking while I travel round.
It seems crime rates are low as well, being Buddhists what goes around comes around so its all about good karma. Even when I asked Tashi what he wished for in the temple (where apparently all your wishes are guaranteed to come true!) he says he wishes not for himself but for all those around him so that when good things happen to them he will in turn be blessed for wishing this for them by good karma. If only more people thought like that, what a world we would live in!! It certainly is a great philosophy to live your life by, I guess I am just not sure I believe in the fairies flying in and building some of these places we are visiting (nice idea though)!
We visit a place where students are trained in traditional arts and crafts to help support the Bhutanese way, its seems that the current King wants to ensure that Bhutan retains its culture and heritage as its moves into the modern times and this is one way to do that. They also learn English in schools from the age of 6. But it seems that the young are getting educated and there aren’t the jobs, so unemployment is growing.
Tourism is a key to jobs and with this only really starting in 1974, its still taking time to grow and to an extent this is on purpose as Bhutan also is conscious of the impact of tourists on its country. With numbers rising to 55,000 last year. This is partly why they charge a daily tourism tax ($250USD per day in country) to keep numbers of visitors down, and certainly we see very few as we tour around, its quiet but that is actually something nice about travelling here. Although we see another couple from Canada at the aroma restaurant who were on our flight!!
Tashi is a great guide and very informative and his English is pretty good, sometimes his misunderstands but correct him and we are fine and get there eventually. After the bridge we head to the Hotel in Paro for the night, a resort no less (Namsey resort). An early dinner, probably the least appetising to date really which is a shame. I also decide as we have a big hike tomorrow that I should get a massage booked in, sadly no hot stone massages so I go for the deep tissue… think it will be needed based on what everyone is saying! Tomorrow is another early start, 6.30am we head to start the Tigers Nest walk which I am really looking forward to, it will be nice to not be in the car so much.