Special meeting with a friend and dressing in a Kira
18.10.2016 - 18.10.2016 24 °C
Woke to a misty morning that turned into a fog surrounding our beautiful hotel. Enjoyed the best buffet breakfast to date, with a delicious chilli flavoured omelette made to order as well as the lightest apple muffins that just melted in my mouth.
We set off early to drive to the start of the track that would take us to Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal Chorten. The Chorten stands majestically on a ridge above the Punakha valley. From the car park, you have to cross a suspension bridge decorated with fluttering prayer flags and a great spot for the first photo of our hike. You beging the walk through rice fields before you start climbing a moderately inclined trail surrounded by pine trees. It takes about 1 hour from the car park to hike up to the temple, and 30 minutes to hike down. About half way up there is a large prayer wheel in a hut where we stopped to catch our breath and cool off as it was extremely hot walking in the sun today. A couple of elderly locals were sitting in the hut praying and reading. One was a cheeky chap and we had a bit of fun with him before continuing on. Although it was not a long walk up compared to others we have done, the heat today was draining and it was a relief when we reached the top. The Chorten is a stunning monument built by Queen Mother and dedicated to the King and for the well being of Bhutanese. We were able to climb to the top of the monument where we had amazing views of the countryside. Thankfully the return trip was easier but the heat had not abated.
Stopped for lunch in a restaurant at Sopsokha, perched high on a hill with a view down to Chimi Lhakhang, the site of our next hike. The monastery is dedicated to Lama Drukpa Kuenley, who was known as the Divine Madman for his unorthodox ways of teaching Buddhism by singing, humour and outrageous behaviour. From the restaurant it was a 20 minute walk through rice fields along a dusty track and a small village then a short uphill climb to reach the monastery. On arrival we were lucky to see a group of young monks studying on the grassed area of the complex under the shade of a huge tree. They were chanting their lessons over and over in order to learn their scriptures and I was amazed how young some of the monks were. We toured through the complex and visited the temple which is known as the Temple of Fertility where young couples wishing to have children come to pray. Wandering back along the same track we stopped to watch the locals harvesting rice for a while, before returning to our hotel for a well earned rest.
Late this afternoon we had some special visitors. I had been corresponding with a Bhutanese lady named Rinchen who I discovered when searching for Bhutanese people with similar interests to my own, namely knitting and crochet. Rinchen, who has a blog herself called "Bhutan Knit N Crochet", very kindly responded to my initial contact. She had been very helpful in providing me with advice regarding travel to Bhutan and we had also been discussing our crochet interest and learning a bit about each other along the way. So I was very excited to find we were going to be able to meet face to face. Rinchen arrived with her lovely husband, Karma Tenzin and we immediately all hit it off. She had heard that I had not had a chance to try on the traditional female dress called the Kira and had thoughtfully brought one with her for me to try. What an experience it was, and not an easy garment to get into. There are three stages to the outfit and then it is completed with jewelled hooked chains and Rinchen even bought her mother's pearly jewellery to complete the outfit. I felt so elegant and honoured to wear this special garment and I did not want to take it off. We learned so much about each other in the short time we spent together and it was one of the highlights of our holiday to meet with Rinchen and her husband. All too soon they had to depart but I have the memories of this special encounter to take home with me.
We dined at our hotel this evening which for once, offered a'La Carte dining - a nice change. It had been a very tiring day for us and we once again turned in for an early night.