Bhutan Hidden Kingdom

Day 12 (2-8) - Friday, November 08, 2019 - Hike to Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Temple; Mo Chhu River Rafting Excursion; Punakha Dzong

A very happy bird woke us up at 5:25 – he/she thought we should all be up and getting ready for the day. We had opted for an early morning hike so our real wakeup call came at 6:00.

Wangdi has been excellent in preparing us for each day. Today was no exception but the logistics were a bit more complicated as we had the hike, the rafting trip, and a visit to a fortress-temple.

After our breakfast we boarded the bus at 8:00 and joined the early morning hikers for a two-hour trek to the Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Temple Summit. The trail was steep and rocky but it did have several sets of irregular granite steps.

On the way up, we took time to turn around and take photos of the gorgeous green and golden fields of Punakha Valley. We watched a couple harvesting rice and the woman asked us if we wanted to assist them. We took her picture and suggested that perhaps on the way down we would help. She laughed; I bet she has heard that one before!

At times the trail was so steep, it was all we could do to keep going – and we thought we were in pretty good shape. Again this was another training hike before we tackle the Tiger’s Nest.

It was about 10:30 when we reached the summit and we could rest and congratulate ourselves on our accomplishment. One of our younger members commented that we were doing so well and complimented us on our stamina for such old folks!

The stupa or temple was beautiful and we were able to enter and then climb four more flights of steps to take panoramic photos of the glacial Mo Chhu (Mother) River. There was a nice breeze and the sky was overcast, helping to keep the temperature down.

Retracing our path, at 12:00 we reached the trailhead and were suited up for the rafting trip. Our rafting leaders gave us life jackets, helmets, and flip-flops along with a paddle. Wangdi divided us into two groups and it was not long before we were on the river floating back toward Punakha.

The river was low as this was not the rainy season and it was more of a float trip, but we did have several times that we went though a few rocky spots, enough to get us wet and cool us off.

Even though we had gotten a little wet, we changed our shoes and our clothes dried very quickly as we walked a short way up the bank of the river to our picnic lunch. The “picnic” was an elaborate meal catered by a local woman who provided us with a very elegant lunch, white tablecloths and all.

After lunch we were back on the bus and on our way to the Punakha Dzong, one of the most beautiful fortress-like monasteries in Bhutan. Wangdi took us on a tour of the grounds and the three courtyards.

He explained that “The Palace of Great Happiness” was where all of Bhutan’s kings had been crowned. It was also the site of Bhutan’s 2011 Royal Wedding.

We were able to go into the prayer hall and see the incredible decorations. We stayed for an hour and then walked back to the bus for a short ride to the hotel.

Dinner wasn’t until 6:30 so we had time to take a shower and start working on the journal. Photographs are never permitted inside the temples, which is too bad, as we would love to show you the giant Buddhas and the gold interiors of these magnificent structures that we are seeing.

Tomorrow is a travel day back to Paro so we organized our bags and prepared for another active day tomorrow.

Meals included: B, L, & D

Accommodations: The Four Boutique Hotel

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Bhutan Hidden Kingdom
Phuntsho Wangdi


Traveling by satellite with you today was phenomenal.

Norma   November 8, 2019 - 8:34am
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At The Trailhead

At The Trailhead

Rice Harvesting

Rice Harvesting

Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Temple

Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Temple

River Rafting

River Rafting

The Palace of Great Happiness

The Palace of Great Happiness

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