When we got on the plane, we were going to a great place and one that was really remote – Bhutan. One side of the plane had Everest out the window and one side did not. We flew into the most beautiful airport. It was new and had painting and woodcarving all over it in Bhutanese style. We met, Chorten, who would be our guide for 8 days. He wore a skirt and a shirt with a huge triangular pocket and knee socks to keep him warm. He welcomed us and gave each one of us a silk scarf and said “Kuzuzampola”, which means Greetings! The first thing we noticed were the prayer flags. Chorten told us they were put on bridges and high places on cypress trees. The writing on them was a mix of Tibetan and Bhutanese and there was a dragon-like dog that was printed in the middle of them. The prayers are called mantras and the flags are made out of cotton. When they blow in the wind, the threads unravel and send the prayers blowing in the wind up to the sky.
After we drove thru the small town named Paro, we ate in a really good restaurant that had really good cheese dumplings. It is a small town like Newtonville but is the second largest town of the country. After we got to our hotel, we drove to an old fort. The fort was built to keep the Tibetans out. From our hotel, we would look out at the Himalayas. It was like the National Geographic pictures that you see. The mountains are so high up that you mistake them for clouds. Then you see a lot of evergreen forests and down below, little small houses. The farmland from above looked like green waves per Katie and 3-D squares per Alex and little homes for rice per Ben.
Alex says, ” We went on a hike to the Tiger’s Nest which is a monastery that was partly destroyed by fire. It is called this because we had to climb up for 2 hours and we only got to the halfway point, which is a cafeteria for tourists to eat and a viewpoint to see a sheer rock cliff. I could not believe that they were able to build it so high. It was a great hike.”
Ben remembers, “There was a house in the middle of a waterfall.”
Per Katie “We were walking down and we saw somebody taking a ‘stone bath’. It is outside and you tie blankets around it on sticks so noone could see. The water came from a stream and a cement tub was built to catch the water. Stones were warmed up in a fire next to the tub and put in to make a nice warm bath.”
The next day we drove to Thimpu, the capital of Bhutan. We saw cliffs, and boulders and a river. The river water was mainly dark blue and green. We passed the fork of two rivers called a ‘confluence’ and we saw 3 stupas – holy shrines. One was Bhutanese, one was Tibetan and one was Nepalese When we got to Thimpu we went to handicraft stores.
Per Katie “In Thimpu I bought a big monkey mask and a bamboo box that was painted on. That is what I liked the most in Thimpu.”
This is what Alex liked the most. “I liked going to a bookstore. I bought some classics there.”
The next day we went to Punakha, which is where our guide was born and saw an archery contest. Archery is the national sport of Bhutan. The target was 150 meters away but Chorten got a bull’s eye. He was very good. We also went to a very big temple there.
“I loved Punakha. That was my favorite place in Bhutan” – Alex, Katie and Ben
Katie’s Essay on Bhutan
“I saw snow for the first time this year in Bhutan. I climbed up to 12000 feet from 8000 feet. I got bad altitude sickness.
On the flight back to Kathmandu I saw Mt. Everest from our plane through the pilot’s front window. It was cool to see the cockpit. But the bad thing about that flight was we woke up at 5AM and our flight did not leave until 9. It was supposed to leave at 7.
Two days before that we got up at 2:45 am to see something amazing. There was a big 100 feet wide and 100 feet tall silk tapestry that had 10 Buddhas sewn on it. Alex and Ben went back to the car at 4AM to sleep but I stayed with my mom and dad. There was a full moon and we saw the moon set and that was the coldest part of the morning.
They had really good cheese dumplings all over Bhutan. We saw a really good archery contest and our guide won the archery contest. They have to shoot their arrows 150 meters. The bows were really modern but the targets are wood with paint on them. Our guide hit the bulls-eye and he stuck it so far in that he had to get a knife to take it out. We had ‘butter tea’ that tasted bad but all Bhutanese drink it and we had really good crackers.
I played with Samba [our driver] every day. Chorten ate a lot of chili peppers. We teached Samba Back Street Boys.