Nov 10 (Sat.) Bhutan Day 4 Back over the pass and to Paro
As we sat down to breakfast, the morning fog above the mountains cleared just enough to see the orb of the rising sun. Our first stop was to the fortress, Punkha Dzong, which is both a monastery and a national government office. Because of the mild temperatures, this is the site of the winter palace. Our guide had to put on his administrative sash when entering this structure. However, it was Saturday and there were no government workers on site since they have the weekend off. For an entire country of only 700,000 people, the building appeared to be quite adequate. Bhutan is making a planned, slow, gradual entry into the 21st century. The kingdom is only one hundred years old and now has its 5th King. Roads were only introduced in the 1960's! As we learned by our own travel experience, it is hard to get from one part of this mountainous country to another part.
After our visit to the fortress, we headed back from this relatively mild temperature and low (3,000 feet altitude) part of Bhutan through the same mountain pass we had traversed yesterday. Along the way we saw the confluence of two major rivers, Mo Chhu and Pho Chhu (the Mother and Father rivers). Today was clear and we were able to see the peaks of the highest mountains in Bhutan. The gift shop at the tea house was a treasure trove for Anne and she left with a zippered handwoven bag full of scarves and pillow covers.
We drove to the mountain side site of the huge golden Buddha statue which is still under construction. We toured another fortress from the outside and crossed a covered bridge where our van picked us up and took us to our hotel in Paro. After checking in, we headed out to dinner where we left a tip in 3 different currencies! We rested well and dreamed of our next day - The Tiger's Nest climb!