Bhutan 2009 Day Eight – Wangdue to Paro

by Kara on October 6, 2009

The 108 chorten are located at Dochu La pass which connects Thimphu and Punakha.

We left at 8:30 this morning to drive back to Paro. Pema had a plan to break up the drive a bit so that I wouldn’t get carsick. Our first stop was at Dochu La Pass, about one and a half hours after we left Wangdue. I walked around a bit, not really nauseated, but feeling a bit uneasy about it. Then it was another 45 minutes back down to Thimphu. On our way to the Takin Reserve, we stopped at the Traditional Medicine Institute so that Pema could pick up some medicines. One of the things he brought back to the car were little packets of medicinal herbs tied up in small pieces of cloth. He said that we should take them with us when we hike to the Tiger’s Nest, and if we start having any altitude problems, we should sniff them. They smelled kind of good.

Next we stopped at the Takin Reserve and hiked around. The takins turned out to be kind of hard to spot, although we saw a couple. Legend has it that the Divine Madman, Drukpa Kunley, created the takin by placing the head of a goat onto the body of a cow. To me, it looked a little bit more like a buffalo. There were also some deer in the reserve. Our driver, Ugyen, got one of the deer to come over to the fence to feed him some grass.

People crowded on Norzin Lam street buying and selling merchandise, Thimphu, Bhutan

After the takin reserve, we went to Karma Coffee for lunch, which is where we went for lunch on our first day in Bhutan. It is my favorite place I have eaten at in Bhutan. The owner is a friend of Pema’s. He apparently went to Australia for a couple years, and when he came back, he made a lot of changes to his restaurant. It has a very western feel. We ate Bhutanese food, but they also serves sandwiches and other western style food.

After lunch, we walked around a little market selling traditional handicrafts. I was tempted by a couple things, because I need to get Christmas presents, but most places don’t take Visa and I didn’t have enough cash in either Ngultrum or US dollars. We left empty handed. I will have to do my shopping in Paro.

Town of Paro, Bhutan

Next we headed straight out to Paro. I started to fall asleep. About half way to Paro, everyone started calling my name and trying to wake me up. I thought something bad had happened. But I looked to where they were pointing, and there was a Hanuman Langur sitting on the guard rail next to the road. He was so close. Unfortunately, we weren’t expecting it at all, and Stephen was not able to get his camera out before he ran away. I couldn’t believe how close he was to the car.

We went on and arrived at the farmhouse where we would be staying on the outskirts of Paro. It was really interesting, although I was a little worried about getting to the bathroom in the middle of the night. You have to go down a very steep, almost ladder-like set of stairs, then through several doorways. The bathroom requires you to climb up to very big concrete steps to reach the squat toilet. I am going to do my best not to need the bathroom until the morning.

General shop in Paro, Bhutan

One highlight of the farmhouse stay was the hot stone bath. They fill a large two-part wooden bathtub with water. There are small holes between the two sections. They heat large rocks, then put them in the smaller section of the tub to heat the water. They also say the minerals in the rocks are very good for your joints. At first, the water was unbelievably hot, but I quickly got used to it. I didn’t want to get out, but Stephen needed a turn too. He caught my cold, and is feeling pretty miserable.

Before dinner, we were in the sitting room outside our bedroom, and the family’s little cat came and made himself at home on my lap. I am a dog person, but this guy was pretty sweet. Before dinner, the farmer’s wife shooed the cat away and then we went and served ourselves. They served rice, pork and potatoes, ema datsi (chilies with cheese) and potatoes with cheese.

We went right to bed after dinner. We shut and latched the bedroom door, but Stephen woke up in the middle of the night and found the cat curled up with him. We couldn’t figure out how it got in until the morning. There was a gap in the wall between the bedroom and the sitting room and the kitty easily could have squeezed through it. He knew he found a couple of softies and took advantage!

Check out more of Stephen’s pictures of Bhutan.

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