Spent previous night at Bath Road Premier Inn, used bus passes
for morning trip to Windsor before returning to make the one
minute drive to Quality Parking next to the hotel then transfer
to LHR T4.
Arrival in Delhi, fast processing and transfer to hotel. (For
remainder of day and 17 October see Day to Day 3 Delhi.)
Flight to Paro. Security at Delhi very tight. Had long stop on
ground at Kathmandu then flight past Himalayas to exciting VFR
approach to Paro along valley. Immigration slow, fortunately
we were near front. Short transfer to Hotel. Janka Resort,
Paro. A new, traditonal style hotel in quiet fields a short
distance from Paro. Good, large room, nice food, very friendly
Walked across fields after breakfast then picked up for good
run to Haa Valley where we had picnic by river. Went to Lhakang
Karpo, very quiet, interesting, good views. Had wanders at Chele
La Pass and a couple of places near Haa.
Went for wander along main road after breakfast and subject of
great interest from schoolchildren. Day in and around Paro at
Dzong (monks chanting), Ta Dzong (disappointing) and looking
at various agricultural practices and archery.
More field exploration after breakfast before pick up for worthwhile
day up to Drukyel Dzong (excellent). Also walked round village
and saw women roasting barley as well as Amancora staff gathering
watercress from dubious roadside drain channel. Kyichu Lhakhang
also good. Plenty of time to wander.
On to Thimphu with assorted stops. Tamcho Lhakhang to see chain
bridge. Went to Botanic Gardens which were very disappointing
indeed. Simtokha Dzong good. After settling into hotel went to
explore Thimpu. Not over impressed but got down to market area
and had good nose round on our own which was fascinating. On
return to hotel some entertainment when power failed just as
dusk fell. Candles provided but torches taken came in useful.
Jumolhari Hotel, Paro. Town centre hotel in good condition.
Fairly busy but no noise, good but strange shaped room. Dinners
good, staff pleasant, but one breakfast very badly organised.
Round markets with guide and driver so able to find out what
was what and how it was used - very worthwhile. Craft market
over bridge disappointing. Post Office for cards and stamps.
Then on to Folk Museum which was very good indeed and with a
very good local guide. Later to paper factory (interesting) and
Handicraft Emporium (less so). Viewpoint above valley and Drubthon
Gompa/Zilukha Nunnery (special celebration there).
National Institute for Traditional Arts (interesting) then on
to see takin with nice walk in woods watching some weaving at
a hut on way back. Then Tashi Chhoe Dzong (impressive but only
part open to visitors), National Memorial Chorten (outside only
and so-so) and Gagyei Lhundrup weaving school (interesting).
Drive to Punakha via Changangkha Lhakang which very interesting
and via 108 chortens at Dochu La where had walk. After arrival
at hotel went for walk up hill to village. Meri Puensum
Resort, Punakha. Buildings on hillside with nice views over
valley in very quiet location. Rooms not as good as outside led
you to think but adequate. Good food and service from friendly
but rather shy staff.
Good drive (stop to see milking) up to Khamsum Yul-le Namgyel
Chorten which was steep and hot climb but worthwhile. Punakha
Dzong interesting. In afternoon had volunteered services to 'Senior
English Conversation Class' at Narlanda Buddhist Institute above
the hotel (brilliant drive up there). Each of us had about 50
monks for an hour to help them with their English. Hard work
- Eleanor was lucky, she got the A stream. Meanwhile guide worked
with tiny monks.
Went to Chimi Lhakang (interesting walk across fields) and had
nose around Wangdi on way to Phobjika. Phobjika Valley superb
area but no cranes for us. Later walked from hotel north through
village, very interesting. Turned very cold as sun set. Dewachen
Hotel, Phobjika. Newish building in excellent location on
hillside with good views over beautiful valley. Large room which
got cold at night once stove had gone out. No electricity after
2100. Good food, pleasant staff.
Started off in carpet weavers. Ended up taking a couple of classes
each in the local school. Apart from other things Eleanor sang
English nursery ryhmes to some tinies, Michael on his own without
a teacher had a slightly older group ended up spelling names
of animals and the word for the noise they make (with full onomatopæic
effect), great fun for all involved but probably bad for discipline.
Then to Khewang Lhakang, picnic lunch and walk through valley
along nature trail. All very good. Crane centre for video. Early
finish so walked south from hotel and had explore round simple
village of Lusa as cows were bringing themselves home - fascinating
place. Kids going home all wanting to talk.