Nov 11 (Sun) Bhutan Day 5 Paro and Tiger's Nest Monastery
Today is the day we made the 5 mile round trip up the mountain to the most famous Temple in Bhutan, The Tiger's Nest. Guru Rinpoche was an actual historical figure, from the 8th century and is credited with bringing Buddhism to Bhutan. He was transported to the cliffside site on the back of a flying tiger, where a monastery was later built - thus the name.
It was a short drive from our hotel (where we could see the monastery from our room). There were a lot of people at the base in a park-like setting and our guide took us to the staging area where many ponies were waiting. Our traveling companions, Tom and Lois, decided to walk the entire distance. We were looking forward to the ponies. Despite the warnings we had received, these very intelligent horses were easy to ride and knew the way by heart. There was one mishap as the horse in front of Tom lost its rider who fell to the ground. Probably too large a backpack and an unsure rider caused this accident.
Anne's horse led the way during the first part of the climb, but later she met her "new best friend" - an 11 year old boy who held the lead of her horse while talking his head off, practicing English. There is a tea house at the halfway point and we continued to ride up on the horses from there to the steps where we left the horses and began to descent to a gorge with a very tall waterfall and a bridge to get to the final climb to the monastery. We arrived around noon and since the monastery lunch break was at 1PM, we had just enough time to tour the monastery which had just been visited by the old former Abbot of Bhutan who had blessed food before descending down the mountain on his litter which was carried by 8 strong Bhutanese monk-porters. We had passed him on his way down and had to remove our hats and turn off all cameras. Now that was a unique experience!
We had lunch at the cafeteria and from there began the rest of the exhausting descent. The sun was setting as we climbed back into our minivan and headed back to the hotel and a soak in a hot bath. Before dinner, we were treated to a cultural experience by a band of performers who put on a show with 8 different traditional dances and songs that were punctuated by two clowns who provided extremely unusual diversion between the acts. We had an excellent Bhutanese dinner and then a good night's sleep after all the exercise.