Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Sightseeing - Wangdue #2

It was so lovely to have a sleep in Saturday morning before enjoying a big breakfast at the hotel. We caught a taxi to the small village of Lobesa near where we were staying to stock up on food for a picnic. I went to an Indian sweet shop and bought a box of sweets and some fruit juice and went over to the market to get bananas. Heather bought cucumbers, cheese, crunchy fried ‘bread’ and Senge bought tomatoes and apples. We hopped back in our taxi and headed down the hill in the direction of Punakha but turned off towards Chimi Lhakhang.

The road through the village of Sopsokha was rocky and bumpy, but the village itself was picturesque with green rice fields surrounding the cluster of homes. Chimi Lhakhang is up on the hill and we walked up the path in the sunshine and could see the type of views in all directions that you dream of when you come to Bhutan. At the top of all the hills in every direction were monasteries, topped with golden rooves, seemingly impossible to reach.

Chimi Lhakhang is at the top of this small hill.

Walking up to the monastery under the shady trees.

View down the river to Wangdue.


Jacarandas, prayer-flags and rural scenery - I love this photo.

Chimi Lhakhang was built around 1499 and is famous in Bhutan for being the place to come for couples who are having trouble conceiving a child. In the event that a child is born after these prayers, they are often given the name Chimi or Kinley (Chimi after the name of the monastery, and Kinley after Drukpa Kinley, the Divine Madman of Bhutan who built a chorten here - both names suitable for girls or boys). We enjoyed the atmosphere but feel blessed with our two boys and didn’t pray for more!

Afterwards we found a lovely spot outside with views of the temple and the gardens with Jacaranda trees in bloom. It was another precious opportunity to hang out with our friends.

Picnic time!

Walking back through Sopsokha.

Meanwhile we were in contact with more of the teachers who live in the nearby area and one by one they let us know they would be able to either meet us in the afternoon at Punakha Dzong, or back in Bajo town for dinner. We started walking back to the main road and the clouds were getting heavier and heavier and at the moment that large drops of rain began to fall a large taxi appeared, dropped off some passengers and agreed to take us to Punakha – good timing!

Although we had visited Punakha Dzong in February when we travelled east, I wanted to see it again as the Jacaranda trees are in bloom, and in many images of Punakha Dzong in tourist brochures you can see how beautiful it is at this time of year. At home in Queensland we love our lilac Jacarandas, and it was a very familiar sight to see them, but unusual that it is May.
Punakha Dzong

You cross the river over a covered bridge to enter Punakha Dzong.

Xavier, Bob, Valerie, Andrea and at the front me, Heather and Senge-la.

One by one we gathered on the bridge and talked and chatted and caught up on 3 months of settling into Bhutan. Another Andrea, who is in her fourth year living in a village high above the Dzong, about a 40 minute walk away, took us for a walk to the longest suspension bridge in Bhutan which she walks over when she comes to town. It was impressively long and in the unstable weather it was swinging from side to side. Looking through the metal slats to the river below was a little unsettling, but the views up and down the river were beautiful.

View across the suspension bridge.

View from the bridge upriver.

Some of us returned to look inside the Dzong again and then we took a taxi into Bajo, stopping for tea at Dragon’s Nest, where we all stayed in February.

Dinner was again at SNS Hotel, the Indian Restaurant we had lunch at on Thursday. We had enjoyed such a delicious lunch we were really happy to return. An enormous feast was ordered – it felt like we were making up for months of eating fairly simple meals. Uttapam, dosas, sambar and coconut chutney, pappadams, fried peanuts, and a variety of curries with rice and garlic naan. All washed down with some icy cold beer! Our spirits were certainly lifted after such a lovely meal, a chance to connect with at least half of our group (the friends from the far east and some further west couldn’t make it), and the promise of all meeting again in six weeks for our summer retreat. We are a diverse group of individuals who had to come all the way around the world to meet in this way, but united by the unique experience of living in Bhutan, I think we’ll always share a special bond and meeting these people is a real highlight of the Bhutan experience for me.


No comments:

Post a Comment