Saturday, January 23, 2016

Part IV: Bhutan: Buddha's Redoubt

Our next and final destination was Bhutan, where all the houses were at least this cool.

And where the red on the lawn was actually drying chilies.

Our first stop, as we drove from Paro to Thimpu, was this centuries old chain link bridge.

Where the interiors of the buildings featured exquisite artwork.

The countryside in Bhutan is beautiful and pristine, and the air is incredibly clear.

The lobby of the Taj Tashi Hotel Thimpu.

We got upgraded to a suite there, which was easily the largest hotel room in which either of us had ever stayed.

For dinner at the Taj Tashi, we were dressed in traditional garb. Kathy wore the kera.

And I wore the gho.

We enjoyed a performance of traditional dance and song.

We also enjoyed a wonderful meal in a glorious setting.

This was the view from our table.

Kathy really, really enjoyed our suite!

We had breakfast in another beautiful spot.

The outside of the hotel was stunningly beautiful and intricately painted.

We visited this stupa in Thimpu.

Where Bhutanese young and old walked about the stupa and spun the prayer wheels.

We visited this enormous statue of the Buddha (look carefully at the size of the people for a gauge of its size).

Inside, it was filled with gold and color.

And statues.

Next, we visited the takin (tah-keen) preserve. The takin is Bhutan's national animal.

There were also several varieties of deer on the preserve grounds.

Downtown Thimpu. The large structure is the parliament building.

The mountainsides were dotted with these white prayer flags, which were memorials to the departed.

The parliament building close up.

Samples of the artwork within.

The interior courtyard, complete with monks.

In Bhutan, we visited the largest farmer's market I have ever seen. And the cleanest!

These children were having fun with a milk create at the farmer's market.

Then one of them came over to me wanting to have her picture taken. Too cute!

Around town, the buildings and landscaping were all fabulous.

In Bhutan, they have no street lights. In the very few intersections where they need traffic control, an officer handles it.

A typical street scene, with traditional clothing and monks.

More of the Bhutanese countryside.

We even caught a rainbow on our way into Paro.

Where we visited the national museum (no pictures allowed inside).

The valley where Paro, Bhutan's largest town, is located.

While wandering about in Paro, we chanced upon a cultural celebration that featured young Bhutanese in traditional dress performing traditional and some more modern songs and dances.

At the Zhiva Ling hotel, more traditional music.

And an awe-inspiring lobby!

Look closely, you can see Kathy a few flights up.

More dance and song.

And more great food!

The view from the balcony of our room.

The hotel grounds.

Tiger's Nest monastery, seen from a distance.

The beginning of the hike up to Tiger's Nest.

Our guide leads the way up.

Our guide, who it turns out is Captain America.

On our way up.

Seen along the way. I had to take lots of breaks, Tiger's Nest is a long way up!

Almost even with it..

Can you tell I was ready to fall down after hiking up almost 1,000 meters?

The path across from the ascending path to the monastery.

Buildings passed along the way.

And there it is, Tiger's Nest!

No photos are allowed within the monastery or its grounds, but please rest assured it was well worth the trek up. Fantastic buildings, beautiful temples, stunning views...  and we were even blessed with holy water by a couple of  Buddhist monks.

We passed this prayer wheel on the way down.

And this pony. We walked up. Others ride.

Upon our return, we relaxed in this tea room.

And then we had to leave.  When flying from Paro to Kathmandu, one should sit on the right side of the plane. Then, you get to stare out at the Himalayas all the way.

We were literally blessed on this trip, but we were also blessed to be able to take it. A better way to celebrate my 50th than sharing this adventure with my wife, I cannot imagine!

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