Reflections and memories of Bhutan – sharing scattered days of my amazing trek in Bhutan with Team Black Dog Institute: Waking up for our first full fay in Bhutan. I was shattered from a huge few days of travel and had gone to bed at just 8pm! We felt back to ourselves and ready for a big day. We packed our trekking bag and prepared for a short acclimatisation walk at 3200m and above today!
We were met by Rinchen our lovely guide and taken first to the city centre . Our first stop the Bank of Bhutan, we needed Ngutrum the local currency but it was also a fascinating experience seeing how day to day operations run.
Then off to buy some essentials for our trip at a local supermarket, always a novelty. Our last local activity was the fruit and veg market. Unlike many other markets we had been to in other countries, this was calm and relaxed. We strolled around observing the local fruits and vegetables and smiling at the stall holders. We purchased some apples for our trek and then watched a presentation on sanitation by school children from a nearby school – beautiful!
On to the bus and we drove out of Thimpu valley along windy cliff teetering roads. We enjoyed the valley views and chatting amongst the team, quickly getting to know one another. We arrived at Dochula pass, 3150m.
We were amongst another beautiful sight, the Druk Wangyel stupa with more than 108 stupas built by the Queen Mother in 2002. We stood on top of a lookout and were greeted by a wonderful circular restaurant, Druk Wangyel Cafeteria. Our team rested with tea and coffee while admiring the spectacular views.
Time to trek! We walked up into the forest and continue on up, up, up for another 40 minutes. It was good to have this warmup and feel what it’s like to be at altitude. It certainly isn’t the same as walking at sea level and we gave ourselves some grace for being a little tired. The good thing is, while you stop to rest you can marvel at the forest surrounds, endless valley views and prayer flags flapping in the wind. We started at 3200m and at the highest point we reached 3500m.
The descent was certainly easier and we really soaked up our environment. If the area we will do our trek in is even half as beautiful as this one, we’re in for a spectacular six days! We reached the Buddhist stupa again and returned to the restaurant for another incredible meal! We then headed back to Thimpu in the afternoon sunshine again getting to enjoy such wonderful views.
In Thimpu we saw the king and his cavalcade of cars drive past. Quite a thrill. We then went for the second attempt at the Dzong Fortress. We made it in this time and were so glad we did. Beautiful brightly coloured paintings of Buddhist stories, incredible architecture and a wonderful setting in the heart of the valley. We attended a chanting ceremony of the monks in the temple of 1000 Buddhas and in the shadow of another giant golden Buddha. So spectacular.
I also decided my goal at the temple was to get the guards to have a cheeky smile and laugh with me. Come on guys! Look on the bright side! So I posed or waved with many of them – it was really fun and they had a good giggle too.
The afternoon was filled with shopping! Some people buying local outfits and traditional dress. Then onto a long strip of stalls and markets selling beautiful handicrafts. The items are so unique and truly Bhutanese that it was easy to quickly spend our cash. But so worth it to take a peace of this peaceful country home with us. Some haggling and joking made it a fun experience with the locals.
On then to a special cultural show organised by our wonderful local tour company. We go swept away into the culture and history of Bhutan as these women and men danced and sang so effortlessly before us. It was almost as If they were miming stages because we could not believe that these beautiful sounds could be coming from the people before us. We clapped loudly after each dance and were welcomed to join in on the last one, a spectacular experience.
Again the weary travellers had had an enormous day of activity. We went back to our hotel for a meal and stumbled across a Sweet 16th birthday party in the restaurant. We were invited to join in and sang to the birthday girl, enjoying the delicious birthday cake. Just another example of the beautiful nature of the people of Bhutan
Tomorrow, we begin our trek! The trek to happiness!! But to be honest…. We found it the moment we landed here.
This was Day 3, 10th October 2015, of our Inspired Adventures Bhutan Trek for Happiness, raising funds for Black Dog Institute.
This is an excerpt and my own images and note. Read the full blog at Inspired Adventures.