Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Feeling Like a Princess in Paro

After a couple of days in Thimphu, we were ready to join our friend Heather in Paro, so together with Arwen, another Aussie teacher, we drove our little van the hour distance to Paro. This is where Bhutan’s international airport is, and was the first glimpse we had of Bhutan when we arrived in January.

Heather met us at the bridge that crosses the river to Paro Dzong, so we walked up the long and winding cobblestone path to see this majestic administrative centre and monastery high on the hill overlooking the entire Paro valley. Inside we visited the temple and some monks were selling blessing strings and amulets. Bob chose a ‘phurba’ – dagger and I chose a ‘dorji jaram’ – double thunderbolt – both blessed with all sorts of good luck to overcome obstacles and live a long healthy life.
Arwen, Heather and Bob admiring the view from the Dzong.


After the Dzong, we went into Paro town and found a cafe for tea and cake which had al fresco seating overlooking the playground – pretty cool. We sat in the afternoon sunshine while the kids enjoyed a play.
Xavier made us laugh by misreading the sign 'Take-away Bacteria'.
Alphabet pictures surrounded the playground.
Hanging out at Paro playground.
Heather had stayed the previous night at Gangtey Palace Hotel and she and Arwen decided to stay there again for a special treat. We were undecided so took the girls there and once we saw this beautiful place it only took a moment to decide we would splash out a bit too on the opportunity to stay at this restored Bhutanese home, tastefully decorated with potted plants, statues, artwork and historical artefacts.  
Paro Dzong features on the 10 ngultrum note.
Gardens alive with colourful flowers surrounding a large chorten overlooked the Paro valley and across to the Paro Dzong which caught the last of the day’s sunshine. A sense of peace and calm surrounded me as I sat on a bench looking over the valley while the boys played hide and seek among the gardens. A precious moment to catch my breath and relax.

We arranged to have dinner at 7pm and were served a meal that included typical Bhutanese fare, bland and toned down for tourist tastes, so I ordered some ezay (chilli salsa) to liven it up a bit. This is what happens after living here for six months!

The boys loved the idea of 'topping and tailing' on this cute improvised bed!


If you look closely you can see the Dzong through the window - a room with an awesome view.


The experience of staying in Gangtey Palace made our Paro stay so much richer – seeing that magical view across to the Dzong as the sun set, I felt like a princess, and could imagine that if you had limited time in Bhutan as most tourists do, just a day spent here would fulfil your dreams of the mystical land of Bhutan.

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