Tiger nest

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February 28th 2016
Published: February 28th 2016
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The only other people staying in the hotel were 4 rather posh sounding British birdwatchers who had only been there a couple of days. They did claim that they were not really committed twitchers, just interested when they went on holiday but they had a pair of very lovely Swarovski binoculars!

They went out before breakfast the next morning but we had a leisurely one before Dendup arrived to take us for our final outing. This was going to be quite a challenge and I was not sure I could manage it after being ill and not eating that much for some days or doing much exercise but I was determined to give it a go.

Tiger Nest monastery clings to a cliff hundreds of metres above Paro. The story goes that Guru Rinpoche appeared in one of his manifestations on the back of a tiger which flew him to the cliff top and there he meditated for a few months. The first part of the hike up there can be done on horseback but that looked more scary than walking. When we set off I really thought I was going to struggle but I got into a steady rhythm and plodded past a number of others who didn't look like they had much of a chance of making it. There's a halfway point to which the horses go where there is a cafe and I was amazed when Dendup said we were already there after about 40 minutes as I'd been expecting it to take more than an hour. We had a break and a snack with great views across to the monastery then set off for the next bit. This levels out part way up and feels quite easy....until you get to the seven hundred steps which go a long way back down again and then up again to cross the valley to finally reach it. The total climb is about 700m so I was quite pleased with myself.

The monastery is in fact a number of different small temples all built at different times and with different meanings which I am already forgetting. It was very atmospheric going from one to another listening to monks chanting and we lit some butter lamps for good luck. The views across to Paro were spectacular!

Getting back down proved almost the biggest challenge as reversing the down then up steps was a real slog. For some of the way it was quite steep going down and my knee was really aching. It also had really warmed up and I was feeling rather feeble but we kept switchbacking until we finally got back to Aita waiting in the car park - phew!

A late lunch back in town and back to the hotel for our last night. The next morning Dendup arrived with his 6 year old son, Jigme, in the car dressed in traditional dress ready to register for his first day at school which was where they were going after dropping us at the airport. We had a few pictures taken of all of us then set off. We were very sad to say goodbye to Dendup who we felt we were just beginning to get to know quite well and I hope we are able to stay in touch.

But time moves on and we had to fly over the mountains and back to Delhi......

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