November 10, 2016
Visiting Bhutan wouldn't be complete without a hike to Tiger's Nest. This Buddhist monastery considered to be one of the most important in Bhutan, hangs on at the cliff's edge more than 3000m above sea level.
The temple was first built in 1692 and believed to be where Guru Padmasambhava meditated for three years, three months, three days, three hours in the 6th century. Guru Padmasambhava is a real historical figure said to have brought Buddhism to Bhutan from Tibet and believed to be the second reincarnation of Buddha.
November 9, 2016
Today was spent exploring the valley of Punakha. Initially we passed the Punakha Dzong set between what is said to be a male and female river. This dzong is also known as Pungtang Dechen Photrang Dzong, which means very awesome dzong or the palace of great happiness or bliss. But we will come back to this dzong later. We did happen to run into a National Geographic tour group as we stopped to take a photo. I think we preferred our small private trip after seeing the large group tour bus and I'm pretty sure we paid less for our private tour.
November 7, 2016
When we initially chose the itinerary I'm not sure we read all the details or quite understood what the roads and transit time would be between cities. Today was a long day driving from Thimphu to Trongsa. Thankfully, we had a stop about a third of the way at Dochula Pass, home of 108 stupas built by the eldest queen mother as a memorial in honor of the Bhutanese soldiers who were killed in December of 2003 in the battle against Assamese insurgents from India. The pass is at an elevation of 3,100 meters (10,200 feet). In the distance, on a clear day, you can see the snow capped mountain peaks of the Himalayas. Thankfully it was a clear day for us.
November 5, 2016
Before this trip, we were deciding between Nepal and Bhutan. After our friends Sean and Marcel told us about their trip last year, we decided on Bhutan. Lucky for us, Marcel had done a ton of research on tour companies, so we contacted the same group that coordinated their trip last year, Adventure Planet Travel. The owner of the company, Ugyen, was very responsive and gave us several suggested itineraries based on our interest. We decided on a 7 day itinerary focusing on central Bhutan.