Dogs barking at 5am jolted me awake. I was skipping happy that I slept through the night. Morning was just as cold as evening.The sun rose to let me see that Bhutan is one of the prettiest countries I've ever visited. Not a shower day as we were hiking Tigers Nest. One of the worlds oldest monestarys perched on the side of the mountain almost 1 mile up from the ground. Bhutans most notable site. Prior to our hike we travel the winding roads up to the worlds largest statue of buddha. We saw tons of school children wearing gho(boys clothes) and kira (girls clothes) on their way to school we also passed a few poor home where people were brushing their teeth on the side of the road. Sad . Still being built, there were no other people there than the workers and us at the Buddha statue. Sonam gave us great teachings. There are 3 Buddha's: past, present, and future. The Buddha that was there was the present. You can tell by the placement of the hands. Buddha means enlightenment. Past - hand on top of hand. Present- right hand pointed down
Future - crossed hands in front of face" opening veil". Sonar shared everything is impermanent. Bad isn't forever and good isn't forever. If you live life knowing that bad ends but yet good ends too you will always live your life focused on giving good karma. He also shared
There are 6 realms of suffering that the Buddhist live through: Earth (here),Heaven, Semi god, Animal world, Hungry ghost, Man hell. This is represented on a Tzong. I bought a Tzong with the representation. Had to put into words, but standing there on the top of the mountain listening to Sonam, was a very moving spiritual experience.
On our way to Tigers Nest Sonam spoke about dating and marriage. The avg age to get married is quite old compared to many other Asian countries. 30-40 is the average age. He said he was in love in HS and dated for 7 tears but she left him. He says "Love makes people crazy but is a bridge between 2 people's hearts". This coming from a Bhutanese 28 year old.
Onto Tigers Nest. We arrive and lighten our packs for our climb. Any extra ounce of anything would be hell to carry. So the glasses come but not the holder. Etc. We leave our car behind which we will not see for the next 6 hours. Tigers Nest was nothing but a tiny house in the middle of a 900 meter sheer cliff. We begin our trek. At first it was about 18 degrees cel so it was chilly. And we had just arrived the day before so we were still not acclimated to the altitude. First hill, we were trying to catch out breath. If you trek too quickly your body will begin to push back. We were trekking slow, and yet still had trouble breathing. Note to self: LONG day ahead. Now tigers nest was the first time ive ever done an international trek. At the altitude we were and the steepness of the climb it probably wasn't for a beginner. For those of you that really know me id prefer to pay money to get to the top. But I listened intently to Sonam. Suffering is what brings good karma. Well I had me a whole satchel of suffering beginning right at that first hill. We climbed approximately 125 meters and we saw there were ponies that brought other people to the half way mark. Julie and I looked at eachother and said "well?". I said if another group of ponies pass going down we'll take 2 back up. Yes!!! Just as I said that the group arrived. We pull a quick hitchhike and jumped on 2 ponies. What I'm not explaining is the trail was approximately 6 feet in width. The ponies liked to walk on the edge. Mind you with all that I've done in life riding a pony or a horse (you know an American animal) is something I've never done. So here I am on my first trek up a mountain that is straight up, on my first pony looking 300 meters down to base camp with no guard rail. My pony was a bit stubborn and followed very closely to julies where I almost wound up with poop all over my gym shoes. (yes mom --- just like the car). We got to the midway point and we had no idea the cost of the pony. $6. The best freaking $6 I've ever spent!!! At lunch in the midway cafeteria they served a traditional Bhutanese lunch which included lots of good stuff. Sonam recommended the chili with cheese(yak cheese). We took some. We ate some. Then cried some. The chilis were the hot Bhutanese chilis they eat at every meal. Holy F*Ing hot. That's it. I'm done. Lips on fire. Mouth on fire. I'd now probably have to have an FNB on our way. A friendly nature break. But mine, not too friendly. We sat outside and admired how close we were to Tigers Nest. Yet still had another 300-400 meters to go. We took short cuts (shorter but steeper). We had to stop to get climatized. My heart was permanently relocated in my throat. My lungs were hurting from breathing. And I kept yawning from lack of oxygen. Nice. Some vacation. Note to self. Suffer! you've been blessed with the house and a great job at Ulta. We forge ahead. We finally get to a place that is the first "great pic of tigers nest. I'm looking like pure shit but we need pics. Great ones. Poor Sonam. Julie and I took 20 pictures each of ourselves. Where were hair and makeup when you need it? Now comes the hard part. We are almost there. We have 1400 steps. 700 down. Yes! Then 700 up to the monastery itself. The down part good. The up part.... Ugh. There were prayer flags dotting the mountains. A waterfall was at the top of the nouveau falling into the crevice. There was a rainbow. It was beautiful. We made it. I made it. We arrived to the monestary and we have to turn in all bags, cameras etc. All my life belongings. Glad they are monks. We walked up the steps and into the monastery. It was cold. And damp. But you could feel the manifested energy. It is said that in the 7th century Doja a buddha flew into Tigers Nest riding on the back of a tigeress. We were the only 3pm the monestary. We visited prayer Rooms that many of the Buddist kings and rulers have pray and sacrificed their well being for the being of others. 3 years. 9 years. 1 ate a grain of rice every day for 3 years. That was it. The next 3 years a teaspoon of water. The following 3 nothing. I was very moved by the stories that were shared. Amazing. We never saw anyone else. It was our own spiritual journey. We even got to go places that others were not allowed.
Leaving Tigers Nest being fulfilled and exhausted we now had to climb 700 steps down then up then 500 meters down. Sonam shared a story that the Bhutanese have this tradition if a boy likes a girl he goes night hunting for her. Which means he climbs the side of the house and into her window and wakes her. Since this is a tradition many accept and donnas well. It's not trespassing. One time he did it, hit his head on the corner of a column, woke the mother and meow'ed like a cat so no one could tell it was him. Another time he climbed into bed with the grandmother. Sonam also shared a true story that there was a boy born 18 years ago in Thimphu in a house and when he was born, there was a rainbow around the house with sun and rain as well. The Bhutanese believe he is the reincarnation of the Doja that built the Tigers Nest. If you look close to the mountain that Tigers Nest sits on Doja's face is carved right in it.
On our way down we were swapping TV stories. He asked us if we watch the red carpet. Lol. He. Also said I look like Brittany spears. I've heard that too many times in Asian countries.
Our car. Finally. 6 hours I'm exhausted. We head to our hotel (which we upgraded from the one included in the $260 per day) Haven. A 5* hotel. Yes. We arrived and were greeted with tea. We come to find our there is a spa (opened Agee we booked) yes! We are asked to order dinner immediately which we thought was weird but ok. Spa at 8. Dinner at 6:45. The room and bathroom were incredible. We did a happy dance. We were so excited to be there. White bedding, rain shower, stones on re floor of the shower ... I was for sure in heaven! We walk down to dinner and come to find the entire staff waiting for us. We walk in and the temp was 16 cel. Like 60 degrees. Freezing. We ask for red wine. A list is given. Then a bottle brought out. Only 1 bottle avail. Ok then. They turn on music which has 3 tracks and must be played over again no less than 10x during dinner. The prawn soup Equipped with fish head. Hot. Spicy hot. The beef salad had beef cardboard pieces. And the Chicken basil came with ground chicken and chili peppers in every bite. The rice had a fried egg in it that was petrified. May we have bread please. We laughed and said watch it's wonder bread. Sure enough. Only it was the best wonder bread ever. With the frozen butter made a good meal. Then cane the crem brûlée with the chocolate sprinkles and the maraschino cherry. It was cold and looked like thick pudding. Ok time for spa. We walk out into the freezing air. 2 glasses of wine in, I'm ready to relax. We are to pick out choice of oil , I choose wind (libra air sign). We go into a room with 2 massage tables. We notice there are no sheets below the cover only plastic. We hear the black eyed peas in the background. Where the hell are we? We Change. They come in and no music. We ask for music and on comes disco. Ummm can we have spa music? Then it starts. Synchronized Massaging. My therapist was a therapist we think julies was houskeeping. Both were bad and dice we had the giggles we couldn't get through it without laughing our asses off.
Back to the room. Jump in shower. Wash dirty spa girl off me. Climb into the luxurious bed and wander off to sleep. Great day. Long day. But I started a off a different person than I ended. I ended a better one. I ended more open to everything life has to offer.