Today is my last day in Bhutan. Sadness. It was an excellent day!!!! We started early this morning, at 7:30, and drove to the parking for the Tiger's Nest trail. We started the hike around 8:00. It was about a 2.5 mile hike, one way. Not bad you're thinking, but you would be wrong. It was straight up for 95% of the hike. The trail was a dirt trail with switchbacks going up the mountain. Halfway up there is a cafeteria so we stopped for some tea and a rest. Well, I had to rest quite a bit on this hike. I'm so out of shape. It has definitely motivated me to start exercising again and lose some pounds. Anyway, we stopped for some tea and a rest and then continued for the rest of the hike up to the Tiger's Nest. Once we to to the top we reached the stairs that go down and then back up to the temple. Sangay counted and there are 725 stairs going down the mountain and then back up to the temple. Tiger's Nest is one of the most sacred temples in Bhutan. Legend is that the 2nd Buddha flew to the top of the mountain on the back of a tigress and meditated in the cave. It is said there are treasures in the cave.
We made it to the temple and checked our bags. There are strict rules about no cell phones, or cameras inside the temple. There is a police presence there and they pat you down a bit making sure you're not sneaking any sort of camera into the temple. We spent about 30-40 minutes inside the temple and I made a wish to the Buddha. The original cave is off limits to tourists except for one time per year. Unfortunately it wasn't today. We spent time at the different altars and then started the hike back down to meet up with Ganesh. The stairs down were ok, but then we had to climb hundreds back up to the top of the mountain to meet up with the trail. It was kind of killer. Once back on the trail, it was pretty easy going back down. In all we started the hike at 8:00a.m. and met up with Ganesh at 12:30p.m. So with hiking, stops, and seeing the temple it took about 4.5 hours. I'm so glad that Sangay wanted to start early. It was very cool this morning, but hiking back down it was about 70 degrees. I wouldn't want to hike that trail in warmer weather. Great planning by Sangay!
We decided to go into Paro for lunch and I wanted a celebratory beer! A nice relaxing lunch and then the guys dropped me back at my hotel. So I've been blogging since I got back and going through photos. I have to get my things organized for the trip home tomorrow. I'm getting picked up at 8:00 tomorrow morning to get to the Paro airport to catch my flight back to Bangkok. Once in Bangkok I have quite a few hours before my flight to South Korea leaves at 10:30p.m. I will fly to Incheon, then a 2 hour layover, and a 14 hour flight back to Detroit. Once in Detroit I have about 2.5 hours and then back to Madison. I'll be leaving Bhutan at 10:20a.m. tomorrow (Monday) and arriving back in Madison at 2:30p.m. on Tuesday. Long flights, but well worth the trip!
I have loved my time in Bhutan so much! The people are so friendly and the landscape is like nothing I've ever seen. The Himalayas are gorgeous! Bhutan has gone to the top of the list of the 3 best places I've ever been to. Sangay (my guide) and Ganesh (my driver) were so accommodating and nice. They truly wanted my experience to be the best it could be. It definitely was. I actually told them today that it felt like I was on a road trip for a week with two good friends. We saw so many beautiful places and had great conversations and laughs! I will miss the guys so much. Hopefully I can return to Bhutan in the future. I would recommend this country to anyone, anytime. There is a reason it's the Kingdom of Happiness! Because it is one of the happiest and most beautiful places I've been to.
Sadly, this is the last blog post of the Great Adventure of 2018. Thanks to everyone for reading along and following my travels. I enjoy blogging on the road so much, so I appreciate anyone who enjoyed following along. Until next year (or maybe a Great Adventure of 2018 2.0 soon?). See you on the flip side...