Bhutan Hidden Kingdom


Day 07 (2-3) - Sunday, November 03, 2019 - Visit Memorial Chorten; See Kuensel Phodrang; Visit Royal Academy of Performing Arts; Visit Takin Reserve

Our morning began with blue skies, cool weather, and Kenny Gee in the elevator - life is good!

When we had finished our breakfast, we left for the National Memorial Chorten or Stupa. This religious shrine was built to memorialize Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, the third dragon king of Bhutan. We walked around the main stupa making our way through the hundreds of pilgrims.

Today was especially crowded because an esteemed Buddhist leader was there giving a special blessing to the faithful. Circling around the giant prayer wheels, always clockwise, we were able to smell the incense, hear the mantras, and watch the believers counting on their prayer beads.

Back on the bus, Wangdi took us to the top of a nearby overlook to the Giant Buddha Dordenma. The kingdom of Bhutan donated the land of Kuensel Phodrang, former site of a palace, and many other Buddhist nations helped to raise funds for the site.

The Giant Buddha is over 160 meters tall, made of bronze, and covered with gold leaf with construction beginning in 2003. We had time to explore the grounds and we had a group photo taken before we entered the Meditation Hall.

We took off our shoes, put on our temple socks, and stowed our cameras as no shoes or photographs were permitted. Wangdi introduced us to Gyeltshen, the head lama of the temple. We were able to ask him questions about his role at the temple, his faith, and Buddhism in general.

The next adventure was our drive to the Royal Academy of Performing Arts. A representative artist explained the school and curriculum. A small group of students gave us a demonstration of their dancing.

RAPA, was founded by the kingdom in 1954 to help the young people learn the traditional Bhutanese arts of music and dancing. We were allowed to go into the music room where the head music teacher played the dramyin, a six string instruments similar to a guitar, a flute, and dulcimer. We learned a folk song for friendship.

From the school we came back to the city and had lunch at Kalden, one of the 10 most highly rated restaurants in the capital. Not fancy at all, but a place where locals come and visitors can try authentic Bhutanese foods.

The restaurant was noted for its spicy cuisine, and the reviews were not wrong! We ordered small portions of several dishes and shared them with the five of us at our table. A large bowl of red rice comes on each table.

We had time to walk back to the hotel and by 2:30 the group went on a hike to the Takin Reserve. The takin is the national animal of Bhutan, a kind of ox like goat.

At 5:00 we then walked to the Zombala 2 Restaurant for their specialty, dumplings. Wangdi invited us to talk to the other customers. A young college student joined us at our table and we had a fascinating conversation about his studies and his daily life.

It was 7:15 when we walked back to the hotel and finished the journal and chose the photos from our day. Tomorrow is a long travel day so we had to pack and get ready for the eight-hour drive to the tented camp at Gangtey. Although the distance was only 90 miles, on the mountainous roads, it will take all day to get there.

At the tent camp, Internet will be limited if available at all. We will continue to write our narratives and have our maps and photos ready but it might not be possible to post them right away.

Please know that we are still enjoying Bhutan and we will catch up with all of you when we can.

Meals included: B, L, & D

Accommodations: City Hotel

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  Comments

I don't know how you remember the names of the dishes you ate and how to say them. LOL I could not pronounce them, but I can only speak English. I was amazed how well Vic could converse with everyone. We just sat back and hoped he was complementing the people and not setting us up. LOL I always wanted to learn Spanish, but never did. (my fault) Why did it take 8 hours to drive 90 miles? Were you in a vehicle or what?

Pat   November 3, 2019 - 8:44am
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National Memorial Chorten

National Memorial Chorten

Offerings at the Stupa

Offerings at the Stupa

OAT Group and Giant Buddha

OAT Group and Giant Buddha

Takin Reserve

Takin Reserve

Harvesting Red Rice

Harvesting Red Rice

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