We were sorry to leave the Dang Chhu and the beauty of Hotel Kichu. Nonetheless, many hours of driving were ahead of us as we moved into the final 2 days of our Bhutan experience. After driving all morning through the endless beauty of Bhutan's mountainous landscape, we arrived in Thimphu for last minute shopping and lunch. We then continued on to Paro where we visited the very moving former home of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, the revered teacher of the 14th Dalai Lama, who left his body in 1991. A Tibetan who fled the Chinese invasion, he eventually made Paro, Bhutan his home, and was greatly honored there. His home felt very personal with lots of photos and personal effects. Next door was his monastery which had some of the finest statues of Padmasambhava we've seen. The god of compassion, Avalokiteshvara was also well represented. For anyone who is interested in knowing more about this brilliant heart-centered man, watch the film, "Brilliant Moon".
In the late afternoon, we checked into our last hotel, the Tensinling Resort, where we spent our final 2 nights in Bhutan. In the evening, we attended an outdoor folk dancing performance around a bonfire. It was
a lovely evening, and the live musicians were great. Hints of what we think of as Chinese sounds characterized the music. It was quite a full day, and definitely felt like it was time to pack in as much as possible.
The following day, on Monday, we climbed up to Taktsang Monastery above Paro. This climb was one of the anticipated highlights of our trip for everyone. Images of Taktsang have filled all our minds. Built into sheer rock high above the valley, it is a miracle of engineering. It is also one of the 4 holiest place where Padmasambhava and his consort Yeshe Tsogyel, in her tiger form, flew to and meditated in hidden caves on this site. After 3 hours of climbing, we finally made it to the monastery and sat in the ante cave of the cave in which the sacred pair meditated. Again, exquisite detail of artistry abounds in every square inch. Taktsang is amazing.
Due to its proximity to Paro airport, and its breathtaking appearance, Taktsang is the most visited by tourists. In contrast to the many other sacred sites we've visited on this journey, which we largely had to ourselves, Taktsang was
Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche's front door
He was a revered teacher of the 14th Dalai Lama
busy with an international crowd. It is even an option to rent a horse to take you most of the way up (everyone must walk down), and there is a cafeteria about half way up with tea and biscuits, and a fine observation point. The climb down felt especially hard on the knees, and we were all pretty exhausted for the rest of the afternoon.
At any rate, we had a 4:30am wake-up call for our early flight from Paro to Kathmandu. So this morning, Tuesday, May 10, we bid genuinely sad farewells to our fantastic guides and the beautiful and special country of Bhutan and arrived in Kathmandu by mid-morning. En route, we had a bit of a scare with weather in Kathmandu, and almost were not able to land which would have meant re-routing to Padma, India for refueling. Happily, the thunderstorms and turbulence cleared in time for us to land in Kathmandu. What a relief to feel the wheels hit the ground!
Tonight, back at the Hotel Yak and Yeti, we have our closing puja to end this constellation that has journeyed together these past 2 weeks. Tomorrow, we each go our separate ways, east
Folk dancing in Paro
The bonfire added great ambience
and west, as we head back to Canada and the States. Brian and Holly will leave Kathmandu for Delhi in the late afternoon where we have about a 6 hour layover until our flight to Amsterdam. In Amsterdam, we are fortunate to have about a 7 hour layover which will enable us to visit with Holly's cousin, Ulla, who is currently living there. We anticipate a lot of fun seeing Ulla and her husband, Rafu. And after Amsterdam, back to Boston! These last 6 weeks have been perfect in every way, good and bad. It will be interesting to see how our next chapter in life unfolds, as we experience re-entry, after this extraordinary adventure.
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