Sunday, October 07, 2012

Memories of Bhutan - 16-20 Aug 2012 (Part 2)

Day 3 - Punakha

I finally managed to find Astro, my nephew, who was in Thimphu on study exchange program. I tried to get at the first two days and that morning, I just found out that he stayed just behind our hotel, at Kisa Hotel. I ran all the way to his room and asked him to go and meet his grandparents (my parents). What a wonderful reunion :) - He is the eldest grandson from my only brother, so... he means a lot to my parents :)

Near the Clock Tower Square

We left Thimphu and went forward to Punakha. On the way there, we stopped at the most well known pass in Bhutan called Dochulas Pass. The 108 chortens were built by Queen Mother to honor the Bhutanese soldiers who were killed when fighting the Indian rebels in 2003.

At the 108 Stupas

Group tour participants :)

We continued our journey to Punakha and stopped by to have lunch.

Can you see Chimi Lhakhang Monastery as the background on the top left??

Chimi Lhakhang Monastery was built in honour of Drukpa Kunley (also known as Divine Madman), who lived in the 15-16th century and was known for his crazy methods of enlightening other beings, mostly women, in the form related to sex.

Below is copied from wikipedia:

Poem of Drukpa Kunley about happiness:
I am happy that I am a free Yogi.
So I grow more and more into my inner happiness.
I can have sex with many women,
because I help them to go the path of enlightenment.
Outwardly I'm a fool and inwardly I live with a clear spiritual system.
Outwardly, I enjoy wine, women and song.
And inwardly I work for the benefit of all beings.
Outwardly, I live for my pleasure, and inwardly I do everything in the right moment.
Outwardly I am a ragged beggar, and inwardly a blissful Buddha.

Song of Drukpa Kunley about the pleasure:
- A young woman finds pleasure in love. A young man finds pleasure in sex. An old man finds pleasure in his memoirs. This is the doctrine of the three pleasures.
- Who does not know the truth, is confused. Those who have no goals, can not sacrifice. Those who have no courage, can not be a Yogi. This is the doctrine of the three missing things.
- Even if a person knows the way of wisdom; without practicing there is no realization. Even if a master shows you the way, you have to go and do it by yourself.

The five spiritual ways:
I practice the path of self-discipline. I meditate every day.
I go the way of embracing love. I work as a mother and father of all beings.
I do the deity yoga. I visualize myself as a Buddha in the cosmic unity.
I read the books of all religions and practice all at the right moment.
The life is my teacher and my inner wisdom is my guide

People who visit Chimi Lhakhang monastery on pilgrimage, particularly women, seeking blessings to beget children. 

Phallus painting

Phallus (erected penis - see photo above) can be seen painted on the walls of houses and buildings throughout Bhutan, particularly in villages, which is believed to bring good luck and drives away evil spirits.

After lunch, we headed to Punakha Dzong (Palace of Great Happiness).

Punakha Dzong - Located at the confluence of  Pho chhu (father) and Mo chhu (mother) rivers in Punakha

It is the second oldest and most majestic Dzong in Bhutan, indeed very beautiful.

First Courtyard - Administrative offices near large white Chorten and Bodhi Tree
Third Courtyard - Building on the right preserved the embalmed body of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal

After touring this Dzong, lots of people got tired (most participants were elderly). Therefore, we didn't have a chance to visit Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten, since it would require us to hike up to the hill.

Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten from afar

At first, there were 8 people who interested to do rafting as well in the Mo Chhu, but I didn't know why, since one of them wasn't allowed to go by his mom, the rest of the people were giving up too.. Haiz.... At the end, we just went to the hotel (Damchen Resort), soaking our feet in the river (our hotel was located just next to the river). Then my father and I walked to the 10-minutes city. Hahaha.. that's what they called it.. A very small place. After we returned back to hotel, we just spent our time chit chatting and sitting at the riverside. This was how we got closed and knew more about each other. Even after dinner, we continued chatting and joking, and singing too....

Day 4 - Paro

In the morning, we left Punakha and visited the remaining ruins of Wangdue Phodrang Dzong. It caught fire on 24th June 2012. So sad.. Many buildings in Bhutan are prone to earthquakes and fire. Many have lost its originality. Lucky some historic relics were managed to be saved, otherwise, there would nothing left from the past...

Ruins of Wangdue Phodrang Dzong

Look what we found!!! :D

We continued our journey to Paro. The scenery was so beautiful. I couldn't stop enjoying what I saw along our way... It's something that hard to find in Singapore.. hahahahaha...... :P The driver is very courteous too.. He would slow down and give way to others when he knew that the other car want to overtake his bus. It's very hard to find this type of driving attitude in Singapore.. moreover in Jakarta... ;D

We stopped by near Dochula Pass again to have some tea or coffee and biscuit. There is tour participant who bought the Mandala painting, painted by the owner of the hotel where we stopped by. He is well known and certified artist. Below I show you the photo of the artist and his painting. I forgot his name.. This painting costs US$500.

Bhutanese artist and his Mandala painting

We also passed by the Paro Airport - bird eye view.

Paro Airport

Next destination: National Museum of Bhutan.

Entrance of National Museum of Bhutan

The grey part was renovation done due to earthquake in Sep 2011

This cylinder shape building previously served as a watchtower to protect the Paro Rinpung Dzong below from invasions from all directions. Then converted into a museum. But due to the earthquake in Sep 2011, the exhibits were moved into the opposite building (admin building).

View of Paro from the National Museum

After this, we went to Rinchen Pung Dzong or Rinpung Dzong (Fortress on a Heap of Jewels).

Entrance of Rinpung Dzong

It looks ordinary from here.. But after we went inside....

It's huge!!!

and colorful!!! :)

When we wanted to go out, it rained. While waiting for the rain to stop, Tshering explained the pictures inside the entrance hall. He told us the story of 4 animals (Friendship and Unity - bird, rabbit, monkey and elephant), 6 things required for long live (survival, peace and harmony, nourishment, freedom, root of prosperity, and stability), 4 Heavenly King - 4 Kings who protects place from different places (White King of the East, Blue King of the South, Red King of the West, and Yellow King of the North), 3 Poisons to our lives (greed, hatred, and ignorance), the Live Cycles, etc. After that, we went to 1 hour shopping time in Paro.

I managed to buy this:

I love Bhutan - I do!!!

After shopping, we went to one of the oldest temple in Bhutan - Kyichu Lhakhang Temple, built in 7th century by Tibetan King Songsten Gampo.

Kyichu Lhakhang and Bhutan National Tree - The Himalayan Cypress

The story goes that a giant demoness lay across the whole area of Tibet and the Himalayas and was preventing the spread of Buddhism. To overcome her, King Songtsen Gampo decided to build 108 temples, which would be placed on all the points of her body. 2 were built in Bhutan, which are Kyichu Lhakhang -  pins down her left foot and Jamba Lhakhang in Bumthang - pins down her left knee. While in AD 638 the temple of Jokhang in Lhasa was built over the very heart of the demoness. In the 8th century, this temple was visited by Guru Rinpoche for meditation.

Behind me the two orange trees that are believed to bear fruits throughout the year and the inner hall

We were very lucky to be able to go inside the inner hall. We could see the statues which still remain since 7th century. Inside the hall, the wooden floor of the sanctum is inlaid with turquoise and coral gemstones offered by pilgrims. There were foot prints of the monk who prostrated 100,000 times. Wow, it's really amazing!!! If you're in Paro, make sure you go to this place. I feel very blessed!!!

On the way out, we can see the praying wheels along the walls. It's very beautiful :)

With monks and Dr. Hendro

That's about day 3 and 4. Will continue in another post for the day 5. Hope you enjoy reading this and look at the photos :)


Riku said...

Wow! You took beautiful pictures of Bhutan. I'm proud that you love our dress, foods, people and above all our country. Do write more on Bhutan, I would love to read them.

Overcome said...

Hi Riku.. Thank you. Bhutan is indeed beautiful. I just tried to capture its beautiful pictures so that I can always look at it when I miss the place, and also to share it with others :)
Ya... Gho and Kira are beautiful. Hehehe... Thanks to your government to ask their citizens to preserve these traditional clothes. You all look nicer in it rather than the modern wear :) But honestly, I don't really know how to wear the bottom part. There was always Bhutanese helping me up to wear it properly :D Now you know why I said, there is attachment feeling with your country.... Hehe.... I wrote it based on the info I got from Tshering, our tour leader, and some touched up info from Internet. Just wanna compile it here, so I won't forget it one day when I get older :) Want me to write more about Bhutan? Well, I don't think I'm the right person to write about it. I think you should continue on ur blog, so that we can know about it. Hehe...

PaSsu said...

You have a wonderful blog which is an amazing eight years old already. I found it through Riku's blog. I love bloggers.
You have a very wonderful bundle of memories from my country and I m happy you enjoyed your visit. You couldn't have missed the Bhutanese charm with your level of adventurousness. May you travel more and continue blogging.
Regards from Bhutan.

Overcome said...

Hi Passu, thank you for your compliment :) I don't know if you're aware if I've commented some of your blogs too... hehehe...

Also, my nephew was one of the Raffles Institution students that visited your school in Bajo. He also took photo of the Sign Post in the Curiosity Park. That's why when reading your blog, I found it familiar... hehehe...

Yes, I love to travel and I wish to travel more including the other part of Bhutan.. Hope my wish will come true.. so you can read more about Bhutan in this blog.. :D

PaSsu said...

Hi, I saw your comments on my blog often but I always thought your were a Bhutanese lol. You sound very familiar. I love your blog!I have added your blog in my blogroll so that I don't miss any of your updates.

Those students from Raffles were amazing. Your nephew must be one big brain in the family. They surprised our students, even the seniors, with their smartness. They had a wonderful time and we enjoyed their visit so much.

Overcome said...

Hi Passu, thank you for your compliment :) It is first time someone said love my blog hehe..., as not many people know about it actually. And also thanks to add it into ur blogroll, it is an honour for me :)

Ya, I often comment into your post, hope it does not irritate you.

Yes, I also think my nephew is one big brain in the family. He is very smart and behaves very well too. I believe he enjoyed his trip in Bhutan very much and thank you for your students, seniors and your warm hospitality given when they were there :)

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