Saturday, 24 June 2017

Reaching Paro , Bhutan Diaries - 3



The next day I woke up around 8 AM. Our room had an amazing view. Our hotel had an awesome location advantage.It is situated on Nordzim Lam and opposite to Clock Tower. From our window I could see the tree lined main road with cars parked neatly on one side. The road view was unobstructed as far as one could see either ways. The Clock Tower was also on the opposite.

Road view at early morning from the room's window

Since it was a Friday, our plan was to do full day Thimpu sight-seeing, but would first go to the Immigration office in Thimpu for getting our next day's permit to Punakha. Ankur was back from his early morning city exploration. He loves to explore any new place on foot, so he had gone out from his morning stroll while I was still sleeping. He came back and said we need to change our plans. While on his morning explorations he came to know that all Government offices would remain closed for the day because it was a National Holiday. The next two days being Saturday and Sunday, there was no point in wasting three days sitting in hotel. So we decided to move to Paro since the permit we got from Phuentsholing allows us to visit Paro and Thimpu. Also no permit is required for Tiger's Nest Monastery. Now as per the new plan we will first cover Paro and then come back to Thimpu.

We told our change in plans to Mr Sonu Archarya, the manager of the hotel. He is a very nice gentleman and instantly agreed. We told him that we will stay in his hotel once we come back to Thimpu and would like to give advance payment to reserve a room. He said that there is no need for any payment; he will keep the room for us.

Our plan was to leave our hotel by 11 AM.So after a light breakfast of bread toast and coffee we started to explore Thimpu on foot. We went to the Clock Tower, a landmark as well as a meeting place in Thimpu, opposite to our hotel, made some videos and pictures. Like any Western country, in Bhutan, people cross the road on the zebra crossings and pedestrians always get the first right. The rule is also there in India but sadly forgotten.

Clock Tower, a landmark in Thimpu

Beautiful people
Too much cuteness in one frame

:)

Beautiful handicrafts from East Bhutan

We also walked down the road till the traffic police stand. Interestingly this is perhaps the only other traffic police stand in entire Bhutan, other than the one at Phuentsholing. Something really commendable we noticed in Bhutan is that no car overtakes another in the city and also there is zero honking. We had already started experiencing happiness.

Near to the police stand is a shop that sells phone SIMS. Since we will be staying in Bhutan for over a week and using our regular numbers means incurring international roaming so we went to the shop for TashiCell SIMS.We had to give our permit xerox to get the SIM cards.Activation is instant, validation is for 1 month and it comes loaded with 200 rupees balance.

Don't miss the traffic police stand. Its the only one at Thimpu. The other is at Phuentsholing 


After a lot of photos, its time for another brunch. We went to a cafe called 'Thija Cafe' adjacent to Clock Tower. This is a pretty cafe with sitting arrangements both inside and outside the cafe. We ordered for jasmine tea, sticky fried rice with salad, bacon and mushroom thuppa. The food was good. Bacon was wrapped in cheese and was outstanding.

Amazing food

sticky rice and some jasmine tea

selfie time

Trying to use the chop-sticks correctly

Momo caskets

Waiting for food

Posing to bantaai hai!

Satisfied after brunch

Children and flowers..so beautiful

We got up on a taxi from the taxi stand for Paro. We took a point to point taxi from hotel till the taxi stand. The rates are fixed. From Thimpu to Paro, its a one hour journey. Our driver was a very nice fellow from Paro, although he is originally from east Bhutan. His name is Ugyen, named after the first king of Bhutan, Ugyen Wangchuck. Although we initially hired his taxi for the journey to Paro, Ugyen eventually became the driver plus tour guide for our entire Bhutan Trip.

Having some conversation with Ugyen


The first thing that Ugyen showed us was Tachogang Lhakhang Monastery and bridge. He parked the car on one side of the road and we got down. We saw the 15th century Tachogang Lhakhang Monastery and also the iron bridge over the Paro river locally called the Pacho river that one has to cross to reach the monastery. This monastery is after Isuna village on Thimpu - Paro highway. This is really a very old monastery and was built by Yogi Thangtong Gyalpo who was a pioneer in building iron bridges in Bhutan. A new bridge has also been built next to the old one. The only way to reach the monastery is by foot and so we decided to move on.

Tachogang Lhakhang Monastery

Tachogang Lhakhang Monastery


He also stopped the car at one more place on the way. From that place the Paro river bank was easily accessible by foot. Its a nice place for some 15 minutes of photography break.

Loved the place!


Photo break

Finally I could let my hair down

We had our booking with City Hotel in Paro, situated near the rows of curio shops. Its a good hotel and highly recommended. The location is very nice. They also have restaurant and make pretty good food. Actually in Bhutan we always had Bhutanese cuisine and no where we were disappointed.

In the evening, we walked till the bridge on the Paro river. Along the river is a narrow road that goes towards the Paro Dzong. We took that road and walked that stretch. It was really so beautiful. We had the river flowing softly on one side, the cool continuous breeze, the prayer flags at various places on the railing and far away one can see the magnificent Paro Dzong. At one point we had to get down from this road, cross a small ground and then again get up on the main road that leads to the monastery. There was hardly any cars maybe because it was a holiday.

Women on the bridge

Straight there is the Paro Dzong


Feeling the fresh air


We passed by some stupas, there were also some horses grazing nearby and they helped us in creating some good picture compositions.We crossed a bridge and entered the dzong. In Bhutan administrative offices are known as dzongs and they have both civil and religious administration in the same office. There are 20 districts in Bhutan and each district has its dzong. Some of the dzongs are extremely beautiful and marvelous and showcase fantastic Bhutanese architecture. Paro dzong is also commonly referred to as Ringpung Dzong and is one of the most beautiful dzongs in Bhutan. Bear in mind that women must wear full sleeve clothes and men must wear collar'ed shirts to enter any dzong in Bhutan. After dusk, the dzong looks marvelous when the lights are lit. We waited for about an hour to take those beautiful night shots.

Stupas near Paro Dzong

Bridge leading to Paro Dzong

There you see the Dzong..we are going towards it

Paro Dzong

Paro Dzong at night

Another angle of Paro Dzong at night

Now some pictures

Love it !

Plenty of posing

Plenty of posing


We went to sleep after an early dinner thinking what an eventful day we had. Next day's plan is to visit Chele La and some city tour.

Important Info:

City Hotel (highly recommended)
Paro, opposite Police station
Uttam Gurung
Ph: 08-2-70288/ 97517963699
email: cityhotelparo@yahoo.com

Apart from taxis, there are regular buses that ply between Thimpu and Paro

Entry to Paro Dzong is free of charge, but women must wear full sleeve clothes and men must wear shirts/tees with collars

Recommended Restaurant: Lotus Bistro


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