Happy Holidays – from a chillib in Bhutan (with a side trip to Siem Riep)

It’s always great to be home after a trip…no matter where. I guess that’s one of the benefits of travel – appreciating the bounty you have at home. Just returned from Bhutan and the land of GNH…yes, that’s Gross National Happiness. It doesn’t hurt to have a Buddhist mindset!  Our guide and driver did make us happy and they even managed to put up with us for the week we were there…they did, however, keep up their mantras which must have been some help.  Bhutan’s vegetation is similar to the Sierras with it’s pine trees IMG_7581 and elevation. IMG_7464  IMG_7523

The flight in from Bangkok was quite exciting, as the jet banked through the narrow valley on its approach to Paro.  A favorite event was the in-villa massage at Uma Paro.  What’s not to like with the villa having its own massage room with a corner fireplace blazing. Although food is not remarkable in Bhutan, here at the Uma Paro it was delicious.

Bhutan, as you know, is a constitutional monarchy but no castles or palaces in evidence.  It’s 95% Buddhist (no churches) and we did catch some monks-in-training at a young age…IMG_7694 and bathing and playing in the river. IMG_7705

In the capital of Thimphu, what is going to be the largest sitting buddha in the world is in the final stages. IMG_7498 Archery is the national sport of Bhutan and we were able to witness archers shooting at a target a football field away IMG_8038 (just a small exaggeration).    When they hit a target the team did a little dance…it didn’t happen often.

We were able to see the rare black neck cranes in the Phobjikha Valley just in from Tibet.   IMG_7900  And…we visited a small temple dedicated to the “divine mad monk” Drukpa Kinley…who taught dharma by using a shocking and ribald sense of humor.  Women having trouble conceiving come here to pray and there are many fertility symbols (i.e. penises) painted on houses, stores, etc…along with a 4 ft carved phallus in the restaurant there.   IMG_7775

We managed a hike up to Tiger’s Nest…a 2000 foot hike and a Must Do!  IMG_8057  This is one of the most revered spots in the Himalaya.  It’s good to be in shape however and not a trek to make if you have any kind of heart condition.  There are donkeys to take up but not a good thing if you outweigh the donkey.  You can also take your children to be blessed…IMG_8074 or boiled.  IMG_7655

All-in-all, a very good trip and amazingly relaxing.  Of course, having a massage every other day didn’t hurt.  It’s a trip to take if you like touring, temples and monasteries IMG_7734  and don’t need sun and sand to be happy.  There’s really just one main road with some of it paved…they are working on it.  And no stop lights…just one intersection in Thimphu with a balletic traffic policeman.   IMG_7511  We were lucky with the weather – a bit cool but not cold.  The elevation was only a problem on our hike up to Taktsang Lhankhang (Tiger’s Nest).  The people are lovely and English is spoken by most.

We stopped in Cambodia at Siem Riep before heading to Bhutan.  Here are some of my favorite shots from the temples we visited there.

IMG_7192 Preah Khan – 12th C temple IMG_7198  IMG_7310Angkor WatIMG_7236

IMG_7202 Angkor ThomIMG_7369Banteay Srei – citadel of women.




About micetrail

An avid traveler, trader and terpsichorian
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