We had an early morning with breakfast at 7:15. We met Alaina and Annika once again for breakfast, and traded contact information and hugs before we left on today’s journey!
We drove up to Chelela Pass at a stated altitude of 3988 M, or about 13,000 ft. Kenchu had planned a hike for us today, starting at this pass and traverse ing up and down across to the Kila Nunnery. This nunnery is the oldest one in Bhutan and dates back to the 9th century! Another ”Baby Tiger’s Nest”!
At the pass, we found the views were absolutely fantastic! We had a clear view of Jhomolhari mountain (7314M). We couldn’t have asked for a clearer view! Very impressive! We even had our first glimpse of “Tiger’s Nest Monastery”, far across the valley!
We started out at a very high elevation, our highest yet! The good news is that we have started our Acetazolamide (Diamox) yesterday and our ability to walk and climb at this altitude was a greatly improved!
The path took us up and down along paths covered in pine needles, rocky crags and boggy wooden areas. We saw beautiful flowers fighting to survive, rhododendrons claiming the sky and beautiful babbling streams dropping to the valley floor!
At one point, Dan and I decided to tie our own prayer flag at a Chorten that stood in sight of the nunnery. It’s a lovely quiet spot with beautiful mountain vistas, and the sound of running water! Quite special for us!
We soon came upon the nunnery, and true to it’s nickname, it resides on the side of a cliff. About 50 or so nun’s live here, but there is talk of moving the nunnery to a lower elevation so that they are not contending with the challenges faced in the winter in with the ice and cold and remoteness.
When we got to the property, there were more stairs to climb to get to the Temple area itself. Again, we all took off our shoes and enter the temple. Kenchu explained the various statues for us and we were all blessed with the holy water flavoured with sandalwood and saffron. Again, a very special experience! Kenchu even managed to get some cuddles from a resident kitten!
We climbed down from the temple and received our shoes, then made our way down to the car. Spectacular views, all with the cost of remoteness and simplicity…perhaps not so much of a cost after all!
We met Penjor at the car and headed down the dirt road to the pass roadway (I won’t call it a highway as it has only one lane and very few guard rails! Remarkably, drivers seem to manage, although it can be very frightening for the passengers!). Down we went, dropping about 1500M in elevation as we drove.
As we entered Paro, we were just south and west of the airport. We stopped to admire this lovely airport when all of a sudden a plane came in for a landing. I still can’t get over the last minute turn the plane must take in order to align with the runway!
Once down in the city we went for lunch, and then did a little shopping on the main drag. Dan managed to pick up a bottle of local Bhutanese whiskey for our trip home…far better than it’s price tag would suggest!
Then finally, off to the hotel to check in and get organized for our big 2 day trek tomorrow…and maybe, just maybe, I’ll get some blogs posted today!! (Sorry, no blogs that day… but you’re getting them now!)