Bhutan


Here are some photos from our trip to Bhutan for my 50th birthday.
This old man welcomed us top Bhutan with candy and gold strings to wrap around our wrists for luck while traveling in his country.

One of many Phallic symbols that adorns houses in Bhutan

One of the thousands of stray dogs

Our accommodations in Bhutan
bathing in a horse trough. Hey, after 10 days, who’s complaining??
Tigers Nest Monastery No words to describe it.

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I’ve added a video that I put together from our trip to Bhutan.  Most of it was filmed on my birthday. Take a look and let me know what you think.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mZmtwaIhKrU

check out “Trails and Tribulations” for a detailed description of my big day.

On the last full day of out trip to Bhutan, we were fortunate to attend the Paro Tsechu, one of Bhutan’s most important festivals. The dances are performed by trained monks and laymen wearing costumes that depict the creatures that one can expect to meet after death. The festival was fascinating, but watching the thousands of local spectators was equally entertaining.

I took the video here, but with so many people in close quarters, taping was, well, it was what it was.

For more on our three-week trip to Bhutan, scroll down and/or start at the beginning of our trip.

Water coming off the mountain propells this beautiful prayer wheel near the Tiger’s Nest Monastery

Paro Taktsang, Tiger's Nest Monastery

Paro Taktsang, Tiger's Nest Monastery

In wrapping -up our trip to Bhutan, i thought i’d share some random photo’s/thoughts with you. The photo above is the “Tiger’s Nest”, one of Bhutan’s most important religious sites. Completed in 1692, the temple hangs on a cliff at 10,200 feet. It takes over two hours to walk there, straight uphill, but is well worth the climb. Early on the walk, the temple appears to be floating in the clouds, and the further you walk, the more it seems like something out of a fantasy book.  Once you catch your breath, you realize that it is very real, indeed.
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Monk and Nun

Monk and Nun

One day before starting our trek, we took a three-hour hike up to a temple, completely isolated at about 10,000′ altitude. Looking out at the surroundin mountains, i spotted something red in the distance. “That’s a monk”, explained Jambay. “He will be here, meditating, for 3 years, 3 months, and 3 days, never speaking.” “Good God, why?”  i can’t imagine going 3 hours without speaking, at least to my dogs!
“In order to devote themselves entirely to their religion.”
Hmmmm..after that amount of time, i’d be devoting myself completely to my therapist!
We walked across to the little 2-room caretaker’s hut to have a cup of butter tea, which, in my opinion, smells like vomit and (more…)

 

"Trails" and Tribulations

"Trails" and Tribulations

April 4, 2009, my 50th birthday, was the most difficult physical trial that i have ever endured. OhMyGod, it was soooo hard!  I woke up with major stomach issues and no appetite (high altitude zaps your hunger), and we set off early to make the pass at a reasonable time.  We climbed 810 meters (to 16,000 ft) before descending 1090 meters. After a couple hours trekking, we passed a yak herders tent, where nomadic people live for months on end. The tent is actually made out of yak hair, and is completely waterproof! 2 women and a 2-year-old lived there. They were gracious enough to let us in for a visit. Wood is the main source of fuel, and there was a little makeshift wood stove in the middle of the 1-room tent, and i felt like i would choke shortly after crawling inside the tiny enclave. David and i wondered aloud (to each other) how they could live that way, but it is their way of life, and, like nearly all Bhutanese people, they seemed happy.

yak herders tent

yak herders tent

 Making our way to the pass was an extremely slow process, as the snow got deeper, the ice got slicker and our bodies got weaker. My stomach problems were only aggrevated by HAFE–high altitude flatulence epidemic–and by 15,500 ft, i thought i may explode. (more…)

Our Bhutanese team

Our Bhutanese team

Bhutan offers so much for the traveler looking for a completely different experience. The main reason that we chose Bhutan was it’s combination of culture and trekking-we always choose a destination that will challenge us physically.  OOOHHHHHHH—and challenge us it did! Trekkking the Himalayan mountains in Bhutan is not for the average day-hiker. We knew it would be tough-we have hiked the 200-mile Annapurna Circuit in Nepal (for my 40th), and knew that high altitude treks are demanding, but this particular 8-day trek ’bout kicked my ass!

Our travel partner, David Frieder from Denver (who was a total stranger prior to this trip), finally made it to Bhutan after several failed flight-attempts. We immediately hit it off and knew that he would be a great traveling team mate.

After 5 days of cultural touring and tough day-hikes, we set off on our journey.  I finally got over the worst of my giardia parasite with the help of 2 grams of  Tinidazole. (Giardia is nasty–one “eggy” burp can clear a room!!)

We were introducced to our staff-there was Minjur “cook”, Tenzin “lunchboy”, Gyaltshen “cowboy” and of course Jambay, our guide. We had 7 ponies and pack-mules to carry our baggage, the cook-tent, our tents, and all food and supplies.  The first day was fairly easy, 17 km, winding through small villages and rural farm houses. It seemed absurd (more…)

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