The Tiger’s Nest clings to a cliff 3,000 feet above the Paro valley floor.
Our last stop in Bhutan was Paro, home of the country’s most iconic landmark, the Tiger’s Nest. This group of Buddhist temples is perched on the side of a cliff 3,000 feet above the valley floor. When we set out to climb up in the early morning, it was draped in mist far above us and simply looked impossible to get to.
Lots of visiting Indian army members wanted pictures with me for some reason.
The hike up was stunning. We encountered a nice variety of landscapes, pleasant viewing spots, and lots and lots of dogs. Other climbers included a variety of tourists, pilgrims, families, monks, and a lot of Indians. The Indians were disproportionately men in their 30s or so. We eventually learned that they were part of an army entourage conducting joint Indian-Bhutanese military exercises. And for some reason, they all seemed to want to take their pictures with me.
When riding our bikes in Bhutan we encounter lots of cute kids who like to run along side us and prove that they can run as fast as we can bike.
Our two weeks in Bhutan have been a singular experience. We rarely encounter a culture that feels so cut off from the rest of the world (in a good way). It’s cut off by rugged mountain ranges, sharp limits on tourism, and a strong cultural identity that feels impervious to change.
This culture, with its distinctive architecture, beautiful valleys, traditional clothing, and deep Buddhist roots, is less marred by crass commercialism and ugly development than any populated place we’ve been. There is a lot of talk about Gross National Happiness in Bhutan. I don’t know if the Bhutanese are really happier than anyone else, but it was fascinating to see people living as if in a simpler era.
The Tiger’s Nest looked impossible to get to from the valley below.
Like everywhere else in Bhutan, the climb featured lots and lots of dogs.
At the highest point of our climb, we were rewarded with a look down on the Tiger’s Nest.
This ruined dzong (fort) was just a short walk and climb from our hotel.
The gorgeous view from the ruined dzong
Another hike in the Paro area
Another cute kid
Can’t take too many rice terrace pics, can you?
Jim gets very excited by rice terraces.
One last picture of the Tiger’s Nest