A day in the mountains

Punakha, Bhutan.

We left the big city today and drove into more of the central part of Bhutan. Fortunately, we had spectacular weather and clear skies as we climbed the mountains through cedar forests. Even got to see a yak convention.

Our guide was elated that the weather was clear when we reached the Dochu La Pass. The pass is located at an elevation of 3,100 meters (10,200 ft). To the east, the snow-clad peaks of the Himalayas are seen prominently and among them is Mt. Masanggang at 7,158 meters (23,484 ft), which is the highest peak in Bhutan

There are 108 memorials or stupas at the summit, commemorating Bhutanese soldiers killed in a 2005 battle with a militant group from India, and a monastery built in honor of the fourth King. The views were stupendous, and rarely is the air so clear. Our luck is holding.

Then we got into religious fairy land. The area near the pass was believed to be inhabited by a cannibal demoness. A 16th century lama, known as the Divine Madman for his emphasis on sex and fertility, subdued the demoness, making him a saint worthy of adoration. Don and our guide trekked up to his monastery and I hit the shops – avoiding all the huge phallic replicas. One can only have so much good luck.

We had lunch in a scenic lodge and then toured the area around the river, seeing some old and new towns before reaching our hotel.

There’s more to say about people we have met, the Bhutanese national dress, and general observations, but we have just arrived at a hotel where they don’t have WiFi in the rooms. I am parked in the dining room at the moment, and they would probably love me to leave soon, so it will be a few days before I can be more verbose. That may not be a disaster, right?


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