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Trek to Taktshang Goemba (Tigers Nest Monastery)

When everything feels like an uphill struggle, just think of the view from the top

sunny 17 °C

Awoke in the dark this morning, eager to get going on our trek to Tiger's Nest Monastery. Grabbed a light breakfast to sustain us before setting off. The day was a little overcast to start, with clouds covering the tops of the mountains and misting around the monastery. John was a little concerned as this was to be the highlight of the holiday and he feared his photos would not turn out as expected. Reaching the carpark where the hike commences we were on the trail before 7.30am. Quite a few people had the same idea to start in the cool of the early morning, but the crowd soon thinned out as we climbed higher.

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It was tough going uphill and we had to stop many times to catch our breath and ease our heart rate. Nevertheless the rewards came with spectacular views the higher we advanced. The sun came out along the way and the day turned out to be a cracker, with the earlier cloud lifting to reveal blue, sunny skies. The trail was also very colourful with thousands of prayer flags strung along the way. At the halfway point there is a cafe and we stopped here briefly for a rest on the way up. The more we walked, the tougher it got. There were some periods of respite when the trail dipped down for a while but that only teased us as it soon headed steeply upwards again. We met some lovely people along the trail and despite the difficulty of the walk, everyone was quite cheerful and supportive of each other.

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The relief and exhilaration we felt when we reached Tiger's Nest Monastery was only dampened by the thought we had to negotiate the same path back. In order to enter the monastery, we were required to check in all bags and cameras and pass through police security.

According to the legend related to this Taktsang which literally means "Tiger's lair", it is believed that Guru Rinpoche (the founder of Tibetan Buddhism) flew to this location from Tibet on the back of a tigress. This place was consecrated to tame the Tiger demon. The tour of the monastery took us through the temple (where we were once again blessed with holy water) and to the internal cave where Guru Rinpoche was said to meditate for three months. We found it very interesting, enjoyed the spiritual atmosphere of the complex and marvelled at the feat of engineering that had anchored the monastery structure to the cliff face.

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Walking back, we continued to stop along the way to take photos as the sun moved around and made the monastery shine in the sunlight. John remained at the top viewpoint for a while longer to ensure he got the photos he wanted while I slowly walked back to the halfway cafe where we were having our lunch. Found a shady spot at the cafe and waited for John to return Today's buffet was surprisingly good considering the location. Lots of spicy food and one of my favourite dishes - potato with chilli and cheese with red rice. Our walk continued back down the trail after lunch and we reached the car park about 2.15pm. Not the quickest hike, but it was a journey - not a race. There were some local markets next to the car park and their prices were a great deal more reasonable than the souvenir shop on the trail near the cafe.

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At this point, both our bodies were aching and tired and John's knees were giving him "holy hell" so we asked to return to our hotel. Despite the pain, we were both elated with our effort and achievement in completing this challenging hike and finally putting a tick next the the Tiger's Nest Monastery on our bucket list.

We relaxed for the remainder of the day catching up on our writing, downloading photos and doing some much needed washing. Enjoyed a few drinks in the bar before the usual buffet dinner. Not even the ordinary buffet dinner served tonight could spoil the day for us and we will remember it for a long time to come. No trouble getting to sleep tonight.

Posted by jack_and_daisy 08:21 Archived in Bhutan

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I think you will find Bangkok quiet after this. Simply amazing

by Nola

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