April 4, 2006-
We drove pack to Paro today. The hotel is nice. It is very large, but the food is starting to get tedious. Our first stop today was the National Museum of Bhutan, which used to be a military fortress. The first floor we saw was full of Buddhist paintings and sculpture. Other floors had historical relics and artifacts, but my favorite exhibit was the one with the animal skeletons. Of those skeletons, my favorite was the skull of the water buffalo. If they were straightened out, each of its horns would be as long as one of by arms.
We learned how to say “Thank you” and “Hello” in the Bhutanese language, Dzonga today. “Thank you” is Ka dut che la, and “Hello” is Ga za zumpo la.
After spending time at the museum, we went on a long hike. Before we started, the guides offered to rent some horses for us to ride, but we declined. The hike turned out not to be so bad. There was a place halfway up the mountain where we drank some tea and rested a spell. The building was on a cliff above a valley, and when we looked across the valley we could see our destination. Our destination was a monastery wedged in the vertical cliff face opposite us. According to a Bhutanese legend, the monastery was built on the spot were the Guru Rimpoche, who brought Buddhism to Bhutan, meditated and achieved enlightenment.
The woods we walked through were beautiful. The trees were all covered with moss and many of them had flowers. The cliff that the monastery was built on is giant, nearly vertical, slab of basalt uninterrupted except for one waterfall. The cliff looked so treacherous that I was in awe that anybody would have been able to construct a path. When we finally reached the monastery, the view was amazing. I have never seen so many trees in one place. The monastery itself was built like a maze and was covered in red, white, saffron, blue, and teal paint.
After we toured the monastery, we returned to the rest stop to eat lunch. The meal was all vegetarian, which was good, but everything was fried. While we ate, we got to know the other tourists there. There was a man from Melbourne, Australia, who was using water colors to paint a picture of the monastery. He showed us his book of all the paintings that had done in Bhutan. I’d say it inspired me to do more painting. The only other tourists there were a family from Idaho. Their kid is about my age, and I found out that he is also a fan of Monty Python. What are the odds?
All and all, this had been a fun trip, but I think that I am ready to get back home.