Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Bhutan is beautiful

We left Kathmandu yesterday morning. Drukair was our airline for a flight to Paro, Bhutan. This is an interesting airport in that in order to reach the runway, the pilot navigates several turns within a long valley. This lovely country is in the eastern Himalayas, and much of the country represents the foothills of these majestic mountains. Steve and I were sitting on the wrong side of the plane during this flight. We barely got glimpses of the high peaks, including Mount Everest. The day was sunny, too, which made for some excellent photos by our companions.

We're staying at a very nice hotel in Paro - The Drukhen. The rooms are spacious, the staff is wonderful, and the ambience is peaceful. We have a good view of the valley and airport, plus the Dzong and museum on the other side of the valley.

We visited the museum and the Dzong (monastery/government building) yesterday and then walked around Paro for awhile. Today we hiked up to Tiger's Nest - a monastery built on a cliff. The hike is pretty strenuous - about 3000 feet up from the parking lot and perhaps 4 or 4.5 miles away. The monastery is at 10,000 feet elevation, which makes the climb even more challenging. It's worth every step of the hike to get there. The scenery is breathtaking. Here's a photo from the trail to give you an idea.

There is a restaurant up about halfway to the monastery where we had tea. Jon Miller brought out his small GoPro drone set-up and wowed the locals. I can't wait to see the video recording.

I did a lot of botanizing and some birding along the trail. I also managed to get through this hike without any blisters - a nice change of pace. We had rain, we had hail, and we had some chilling winds in the afternoon, but seeing the monastery and different altars dedicated to the different Buddhas, the monastery grounds, and the views of the valley from the cliff were well worth the hike and the weather issues. We're heading to somewhere new tomorrow.

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