Paro, Bhutan. We have reversed our path and are now staying back in the city where we flew into Bhutan a few days ago.
Paro is not the capital, but it does have the advantage of sufficient flat land to locate the airport, so it’s a growing city. We saw the airport from the hills, and realize just how small it is – but how clean and pretty! There are only 17 pilots who are qualified to fly into this airport, as it requires navigating by sight – not radar – through the mountains. We held our breath coming in.
We started our day with the long-anticipated Rhododendron Festival. People plan a year ahead to come to this! The children were running around, music was playing, animals were scampering and we were ready! There was only one problem. The festival takes place whether the flowers are blooming or not – and we seemed to be about a month early. One wonders why the event couldn’t be moved, but we did have the walk in the rhodo gardens to ourselves. Sometimes I just shake my head. Our guide couldn’t have mentioned this? I know they hate to disappoint, but still…
Speaking of our guide, he is definitely loosening up with us. There is a serious protocol as to how politely and graciously we are treated. (I haven’t touched a car door handle since we got here.) But we are filling B.J.’s ears with trash talk about Meghan Markle and other western celebrities of note, and he is drinking it in. I told him that as he was doing such an excellent job of educating us about Bhutan, we were available to answer any questions he might have about America, etc. First one? “The Red Indians?” We told him the true story of our (first) national shame.
We went back through the Dochu La pass, which today was very overcast. So glad we saw it earlier on a beautiful sunny day. I am also teaching B.J. about elevenses, which we had to experience at the cafe at the pass.
After a rather peculiar lunch, which included spaghetti, fish and chips, sweet and sour vegetables, rice, salad, creamy potatoes and some other veg dish (food for people of various nations), we passed on desert and went onto to yet another Dzong, this one built in 1649 in a strategic defensive position to combat those aggressive Tibetans, who kept trying to invade.
The Drukgyel Dzong is still an active administrative center for this area, and is much more of it is original than freshly restored as some we have seen. Beautiful architecture and decorations.
And then we finished our sight-seeing today with the Kyichu Lhakhang, which was supposedly built bu the Tibetan king in 659 to defeat an ogress and to introduce the people to Buddhism. The rest is history, and this temple is remarkable for its evident age and small scale. (Photos -or shoes – never allowed in temples.)
We are situated in a new hotel for the next three nights. It’s built in a lot of pods, and we do have a cozy room. It’s finally actually cold! (And still lots of internet issues…)