As per our original plan, we were to visit Haa Valley. But the time we would spend travelling to & fro was a lot so we ditched Haa Valley & considered Pema’s suggestion of cycling & water rafting in Punakha.
A very basic breakfast later, we reached the main market area to pick up our cycles that we had booked the previous day. At Rs 700/- per hour, we hired our super fancy cycles. Cycles kiti bhi fancy kyun na ho, theek se chalani aani chahiye aur shareer ka saath zaroori hai. Let me begin my disclosing some facts –
1) I am 35 years old & haven’t exercised in a long time
2) I was riding with 2 people approx 10 years younger to me
3) Bhalla exercises EVERYDAY
In my current state, I could ride only for 10-12 mins I guess. The moment I hit the 1st uphill slope, I started kicking myself mentally to agreeing to this torture. Soon, I was left behind by my fellow cyclists & I started walking with the cycle alongside. Though the roads are good with scenic views, I would wait for a straight patch or a downhill slope, would immediately get on the bike & start riding. But let me tell you, it’s not an easy path. Anyway after struggling for a while, we came across a crematorium. Loud sounds of chants & instruments could be heard from the outside. “The cremation ceremony is really grand. Even better than weddings” – Pema informed. Bhutanese believe in making the last rituals super grand. Even if you don’t have money, other family members, friend, relatives, neighbours, etc donate cash & other things to make the ceremony elaborate & splendid.
Bade hi kasht ke baad, we reached the Suspension Bridge. Thanks to our luck & timing, we were the only people there which meant great pictures with no random people in the background. An elaborate photo session later, walk across the bridge with the cycle, a scary walk to reach the road & another painful ride back later we reached the cycle shop to return the cycles. Though we were planning to do water rafting, we ditched it immediately when we heard the prices. Plus, the river doesn’t seem to have too many rapids like the one in Rishikesh.
Exhausted (only me) we reached back to the resort for a quick shower & meal. Roti, Dal is all we were having but the view & location made the lunch something else.
Post lunch, we checked out & the drive to Paro was spent sleeping in the car. The roads here are so good, they ensure an undisturbed sleep.
Namgay’s Home Stay is where we were staying. Again slightly away from the main city, with the river flowing across the road of the property, this was as local as it can get. It was dark by the time we reached the home stay. Our room was on the ground floor along with 2 more rooms & a kitchen. Basic yet cozy, our room had 2 beds, a small cupboard & a bathroom. Warm & welcoming, the family & kids are really sweet. When asked for wifi “We don’t have it. We want people to enjoy their stay & be away from technology” was the answer.
Best part of airbnb/home stay’s – you meet fellow travellers. We met a mother-son duo from bangalore & spent the evening sharing travel stories. Dinner that night was the authentic bhutanese meal cooked by the family & was devoured sitting upstairs in the dining room with them. Potato Fry, Rice, Ema Datshi, Red Chilli paste, veggies followed by organic apples from their farm- One of the BEST meal ever. Spicy yet super flavourful, the ema datshi was the star of the dinner. BTW, everything on the table including rice, veggies & the cheese used is cultivated by the family & is 100% organic.
The people of Bhutan love their King & the country. And why not??? Their education & health-care is taken care off by the government. It’s absolutely safe & they even send their people abroad for education & medical treatment if needed which is all paid for. As per hosts, vegetables from India are not allowed in Bhutan as they are adulterated & cause illness. People here are simple & content with what they have.
Tiger’s Nest was on agenda for the next day. “Need be I will crawl, but I will reach the top” were my words & I was determined. Ussi determination ke saath, we called it a day.
Day 6 – Click Here