Thimphu, Bhutan – Day 2

Kisa breakfast
Kisa Hotel breakfast, need to stuff enough carbohydrates for our first hike!

Tango/Cheri Monastery
The trek up started, mainly paved stone walkway or stairs.

Tango/Cheri Monastery
The Bhutanese people walked much faster than us and they were carrying tins of butter oil and baby too!

Tango/Cheri Monastery
People would make donations and the temple would employ workmen to repair the walkways or pave stones. It is a common sight in Bhutan that the parents are at work and the kids would play by the side with whatever they can find.

Tango/Cheri Monastery
First stop after 1 hour of climbing, the monks’ quarters.

Tango/Cheri Monastery

Tango is the highest center of Buddhist learning in the country; almost every Je Khenpo (religious head of Bhutan) completed the 9-year program there. After completing that program, monks traditionally spend 3 years, 3 months and 3 days in mediation at the nearby Cheri Goemba retreat, built in 1619 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the founder of Bhutan. It is currently the home of an 19 year old boy believed to be the seventh reincarnation of the fourth desi, or ruler, of Bhutan.

DrukAsia

Tango/Cheri Monastery
Mainly it is like the univeristy for the monks.

Tango/Cheri Monastery
Hot milk tea, butter biscuits and rice pops were provided to us after 1.5 hours of hiking up.

Tango/Cheri Monastery

Tango/Cheri Monastery

Tango/Cheri Monastery
Steep wooden stairs at about angle of 65 degrees (?), which we walked down step by step holding to the support on both sides but the monks were just scampering up and down really fast and with no support of the rails at the side even though they had to carry the heavy rice pail.

Tango/Cheri Monastery
After our tour completed inside the temple, it was almost lunch time.

Tango/Cheri Monastery
We were offered some of their vegetarian lunch which we took some to try and has our first sip of the Bhutan drink, Buttermilk. Butter + tea + milk = oily tea with a tinge of salty taste. Not a taste that we are used to.

Tango/Cheri Monastery
After lunch, the monks had a 1 hour break which most of them adjourned to the quarters since their day usually starts at 4-5am and after their siesta they would continue to study and pray till evening.

Tango/Cheri Monastery
Then it was for us to start our descent which was much quicker this time at about 1 hour.

Tango/Cheri Monastery
Beautiful view.

lunch
Then we headed back to lunch at Thimphu.

thimphu city

The unique aspect of Thimphu roads and the traffic control over the road network is that it is one of the two national capitals in Asia that does not have traffic lights (the other is Pyongyang, North Korea). Local authorities had installed a set of lights but before they became operational the lights were removed. Instead of traffic lights, the city takes pride in its traffic police that directs the oncoming traffic with their dance-like movement of their arms and hands.

Wiki

post office
Thimphu’s post office.

Folk Heritage Museum
A quick visit to the Folk Heritage Museum where we would visit a replica of a typical Bhutan house (which some Bhutanese are still living in this way). No photography allowed so I only snapped a photo of the entrance. Mainly it would be a big house built into 3 storeys with a attic. Level one would be where the poultry, cattle and horses would stay in with their tool shed. Level 2 would be the kitchen area with a workshop for sewing or wood work. Level 3 would be the open space bedrooms and a praying room. The attic is more of the place were they would air dry their food.

Institute of Zorig Chusum
Next would be a stop to the art school for aspiring Bhutanese artistes learning the traditional arts. Here we see the wood carving class.

Institute of Zorig Chusum
Sculpture class.

Institute of Zorig Chusum
Painting class.

Institute of Zorig Chusum
Embroidery class.

Institute of Zorig Chusum
Most of the students would be studying in the school for 4 years and when they graduate they can either work for the government or become free lance artistes. Some of their works are also sold in the school shop.

Takin
Takin, the National animal for Bhutan. It is actually a goat-antelope found in the eastern Himalayas.

According to legend: Lama Drukpa Kunley (called “the divine madman”) visited Bhutan in the 15th century, a large congregation of devotees gathered around the country to witness his magical powers. The people urged the lama to perform a miracle. However, the saint, in his usual unorthodox and outrageous way, demanded that he first be served a whole cow and a goat for lunch. He devoured these with relish and left only bones. After letting out a large and satisfied burp, he took the goat’s head and stuck it onto the bones of the cow. And then with a snap of his fingers, he commanded the strange beast to rise up and graze on the mountainside. To the astonishment of the people the animal arose and ran up to the meadows to graze. This animal is then now known as the Takin.

site

Kisa dinner
Back to the hotel by 6pm which we took a short rest and had dinner at 7pm in Kisa Hotel.

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