Our return trip down the Bumthang-Ura Highway was similar to the trip up with the addition of more traffic adding to the challenges of negotiating livestock, cars and people wandering in and across the road. We will let Jam Jam tell the story.
Dochla pass appeared near the half way point – the Himilayas along the Bhutan Chinese border were out in all their glory today and we stopped quickly for some photo ops before continuing down to Paro.
Paro appeared after a 5 1/2 hour transport trek: we quickly had lunch and headed out to explore the National Museum, as well as the Paro Fortress built in the 16th century containing the obligatory temple. The Natural history part of the museum was fascinating, rounding out the stories of what we had seen along the way. The Himalayas are young mountains – about 50 million years old. The variation in ecosystems in Bhutan, ranging from sub tropical to arid high mountain has created a set of flora and fauna I have seen no where else. The Museum building was originally a watch tower and is a variation on the Norman keeps I have seen in England and France. Living quarters located up higher, with the lower levels consisting of massive walls, slit windows and a series of small corridors where troops could move undetected during a siege. The corridors were low and dark, not a good place for two claustrophobic women and we exited that area as quickly as we could onto the outstanding viewpoint overlooking the valley. Rice harvesting is in full swing here, the mellow gold of the valley fields shimmering below us.
A scramble down a small cow path took us to the fortress below, now a monastery. The late afternoon light was stunning.
A hi-light of the visit was discussing the wheel of life (Samsara) in Bhuddism and reincarnation: how your actions in this world determine your life in the next. Whether you end up in an unending Do Loop ( I got caught in those back in the days of writing Fortran code) bouncing between hell and your present state, or make steady progress upwards is up to you.
We are now in our hotel and climb to Tigers Nest this morning!