Sunday, October 14, 2012

Memories of Bhutan - 16-20 Aug 2012 (Part 3)

Taktsang Monastery - The Tiger's Nest

Day 5 - Last traveling day in Bhutan
Our destination - Taktsang Monastery or the Tiger's Nest at Paro Valley

Time really flew and we came to the last day of our trip in Bhutan. All of us prayed that the weather would be good since we're going to a very important place. - If you didn't go to Taktsang Monastery, you hadn't been to Bhutan... - hehehe.. that's my phrase though...

As I've mentioned earlier, we went during monsoon season, so raining could pour down anytime anywhere. And as a matter of fact, before flying to Bhutan, I checked the weather forecast from the internet. All website forecast-ed that it would be rain for the whole 5 days during our visit. That's why I ran myself a day before flying to buy the jacket cum raincoat, so that I could get myself prepared.

The first day reaching Bhutan, I told my father about the forecast weather, but he said the weather would be good during our stay in Bhutan. I don't know if it was a miracle or was it our good karma.. Yes, it rained, but it rained just a few times... and most importantly, the weather was perfect during our hike to Tiger's nest. There was a little bit rain when we were near the monastery but it didn't affect our climbing path and the sun didn't shine too bright.. so we didn't get burnt and didn't get soaked either. Thank you Sang Buddha for the good karma.

The night before that, Tshering has briefed us about the situation that we'd face to reach the Tiger's nest. There were two options to go up to the hill. First, you could ride a horse, and second, you could walk up to the hill on foot. They would prepare the wooden stick for us to climb. He also asked us to wear comfortable sport shoes, comfortable clothes and pants, bring a bottle of water, and if we think we couldn't go up anymore, we have to inform them. There were 2 tour participants that chose not to go as they thought they're too old for this journey.

As for me, I chose to ride a horse. First, I love horse, and second, I didn't know how high it was and I was just afraid if my joints would pain if the climbing was too harsh. My parents chose to climb up on foot as my mom didn't dare to sit on top of the horse where the road was ascending.

Starting up point

We departed the hotel early in the morning and it took less than half an hour to go to the base of the valley. There were 5 of us riding the horse, and obviously I was the youngest one. The rest were climbing up on foot. Tshering, Raymond (Indonesia's tour guide), and Gyelshen led and accompanied those who walked up. Tensin was accompanying us who riding the horse, together with 2 horse owners.

Riding up horse up to the Cafetaria

Wow, Tensin was very strong!!! He went up like a normal walk. He didn't lose his breath and he handled the horse well. He even brought some of the tour participants' bags with him while climbing!!! Salut to him!! After that I found out, he went to 28 days trekking trip not long before this, that's why he could have a very great stamina. For him, this was nothing ba??? I also found out that every time they brought their tourists to Tiger's nest, they would go up and down to accompany them to ensure that they all would go up and down safely. Continue your Bhutan spirits!!! :)

Finally reached half way to Tiger's Nest

Yup, I stopped here.. I mean, the horse riding. If walked up on foot, it would take 1.5-2 hours depending on how fast or slow you walked up.

When I was halfway riding up the horse, I met up with Gyeltshen. He kept saying, 'It's bad karma to ride the horse.... Why you can't walk??' Errr... I told him, "Bad karma??? Why didn't you tell me earlier???' Eh, I really don't know about that, as in Indonesia, riding on horse is part of recreational activities.. But anyway, I had my own reason why I rode on a horse. But if next time I have a chance to go to Tiger's Nest again, I will ensure I walk up on foot, and not taking a horse ride!!!!

It was really not easy. The path was not made by the solid rock, but still much on the soil. There were horse shits everywhere along the way up, made it more difficult for them to climb up. They had to walk carefully as to avoid stepping on it and ensure they didn't slip.

My mom, she has an asthma. I worried that she couldn't take it. Pa accompanied her along the journey. They walked slower and managed to reach halfway in almost 2 hours.

My strong Mom and Pa... It required lots of determination to climb this hill.. Well done Ma and Pa!!!

From here, we headed to Taktsang Cafetaria where we could sit, take a rest, had a cup of coffee/tea, and biscuits to recharge energy. I was a bit feeling bad not to climb up with them actually... While the rest were soo.. tired, full of perspire, feeling pain here and there, I was like.. eh.. no feeling tired at all....

So from here, there were 2 choices again. To ride horse and to walk. Obviously, I chose to walk. Hahaha... to redeem my guilt feeling... So there we were... walking up together with the rest of the group.

Cave where Late Geshe Gendün Rinchen was born - also known as "Dragphugpa"  or Cave Man

We passed by a cave where Geshe Gendun Richen was born. He was the abbot (a title given to the head of a monastery), and in 1990, he was enthroned as the 69th Je Khenpo of Bhutan (a title given to the senior religious hierarchy of Bhutan).

At the age of 61 he resigned from the post of Je Khanpo and retired to a life of prayer and meditation. In 1997, on the ninth day of the third month according to the Bhutanese calender, he passed away sitting in a straight meditation posture.

It is reported that his body remained sitting for more than a week or eleven days during which time his body remained flexible and showed no signs of decay.. His physical remains are now preserved in a gold and silver reliquary stupa in the Shabdrung Chapel of Tashichö Dzong, Thimphu. (Source:

Amazing story!!! How many human can be like him???

Next, we finally arrived at a place where we could take photo with Taktsang beautiful view... :)

Gyeltshen, Me and Tensin :)

While looking at the photo above, it reminds me of something. Tshering said that poliandri  is allowed in Bhutan. Wow!!! Do you have any friend that is poliandri?? Can introduce one to me? I just want to know is this thing really working??? I heard about poligami before, it often happens in Indonesia, but it's first time I heard about poliandri, some more in country like Bhutan. Which man is willing to share their wife with other men???

Me, Ma and Pa :) Glad that three of us made it there!!! Good karma!!! :)

I am really grateful to have parents like them. My father has been working hard since he was very young. My mom has been a housewife, a strong pillar to support him, and also to bring us up. They ensure that all of us were provided with enough education, so that we can stand on our own feet.

When we were very young, he always brought us to travel to other places within our country by lorry or car, to see how other people lives their lives, see their culture, tastes their food, etc. He also encourages us to see the other part of the world, to open our eyes, that world is not only within our city and our country.

He didn't stop us when we said we wanted to change our nationality as he believes that everyone has their own lives, their own destiny.

Now my father is 65 years old. We all got married and some have children. He spends his time more on traveling now. No more burden on him, so he just wants to live life to the fullest while he can. He would travel to country that he hasn't been to before, together with my dear mom.

He would ask me to go along in some occasion, where I could take leave and join them. Otherwise, he would ask my cousin or other relatives to go along. He paid for my trip to Nepal and Bhutan as he can't speak English and needs someone to translate for him, or to bargain when he wants to buy something. I believed, it's fate that brought me here... and good karma too... Again, thank you very much Pa and Ma!!!

Continued on..

We walked and walked... Passing by the  beautiful waterfall at the foot of Taktsang Monastery (see photo above). We were nearly there!!!

Some of the path that we went through

Entrance to Tiger's Nest

Yayy!!! Finally, we reached to the entrance of the Taktsang Monastery!!! Next to this, there was a place where we could have a fresh water from the mountain... Nyummy!!!! Gulp, gulp, gulp.... Felt sooooo... gooooooddddd.......................

Wow!! One by one managed to come here... We left our belonging and went in.

It was built on 16th century. This place is known as Tiger's nest because it is believed that Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche) flew to this location from Tibet on the back of a tigress from Khenpajong.

An alternative legend holds that a former wife of an emperor, known as Yeshe Tsogyal, willingly became a disciple of Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambahva) in Tibet. She transformed herself into a tigress and carried the Guru on her back from Tibet to the present location of the Taktsang in Bhutan. In one of the caves here, the Guru then performed meditation for 3 months and emerged in eight incarnated forms (manifestations) and the place became holy.

On April 19, 1998, a fire broke out in the main building of the monastery complex, which contained valuable paintings, artifacts and statues. The fire is believed to have been caused by electrical short-circuiting or flickering butter lamps lighting the hanging tapestries (source - However, according to Tshering, the main statue didn't get burnt. And when they wanted to bring the statue to Thimphu for repair, the water from waterfalls just splashed so hard and didn't let them to go over it. It was like a sign that they weren't allowed to remove the statue from this monastery. Therefore, the statue was put back into the temple and they covered the statue when they did the renovation. We could see the main statue inside the temple.

We went into the cave and prayed. We thanked Buddha for letting all of us coming to this place safely, with lots of effort and determination. My mom and another participant were crying. They were so touched that they would able to be there... It was really good karma that they could be there...

There was a cave where the Guru Rinpoche did the meditation, but the door was locked and it was only opened once in a year for people to see. I couldn't describe the feeling that I had when we were there. Grateful and felt very blessed!!

We went to see two other parts of the temple and Tshering was there explaining the statues and some Buddhism purpose of life. He was asking us, what is your goal and purpose in life? I answered to myself... to be happy.... It just came up without thinking. Then he said.. for e.g. my goal, is to have Ferrari in Bhutan.. Suddenly I was thinking.. ya hor.. everyone has different goals in life. But why I chose to be happy instead of those material thing??? :) I am glad I am stick to my goal until now.... to be happy..... :)

And to be happy, we have to maintain the balance of the effort that we put in, by practicing a middle way in everything that we do... I hope I can do that!!!

Below is a clip from 14th Dalai Lama on Finding Purpose in Life - I play this over and over again, to remind me the purpose of life.

After that, we went to have lunch at nearby the area. It was lunch with a great view :)

On the way to the lunch place, I saw many people stacking the stones.. So, I picked up some stones on the path and built mine :)

Dadadada.... May wishes come true.....

I saw this when I traveled to Tibet. Many people do that, as they believe that their dreams would come true.. Indeed, I have lots of my dreams come true in this life.. Hope it will continue on...... :D

Good cuppa of coffee with Taktsang view behind us :)

After a wonderful lunch, we walked back to where we came. It was not easy to go down as we had to control our steps all the time not to slip or fall down. Many older participants had difficulty in stopping their steps, but luckily there were kind soul like Gyeltshen, Vicky, Vicko, and Tshering who walked with them to ensure they could reach the destination safely.

Our way down

Victor w/ beautiful view from the top :)

Take back memories of a Kingdom - I did! :)

When you saw the board above, it means we reached our destination soon... hehehe... We could see beautiful view and natures along our way back. Simply love it!!

Isn't this lovely???

There were horses too....

There were souvenir stalls waiting there for tourists to browse around. I didn't buy anything though... Some people bought something to compliment themselves being successfully attempted the journey.

Doma Pani (Areca nut and betel leaf with a dash of lime)

While waiting for the rest of the people, I sat with other group of tourists from Malaysia and had a chit chat. One of their local tour leaders showed me doma pani (areca nut and betel leaf with a dash of lime).

Myth has it that the inhabitants of Bhutan traditionally known as Monyul, the land of Monpas where Buddhism did not reach lived on raw flesh, drank blood and chewed bones. After the arrival of Guru Rinpoche in the 8th century, he stopped the people from eating flesh and drinking blood and created a substitute which is betel leaf, lime and areca nut. Today, chewing doma has become a custom.

Doma is served after meals, during rituals and ceremonies. It is offered to friends and is chewed at work places by all sections of the society and has become an essential part of Bhutanese life and culture. It is offered as present when visiting villages and shared with friends and even with acquaintances. It is an element that brings people closer, from stranger to acquaintance and acquaintance to friends (Source: Bhutan 2008)

If I didn't meet him, I might not know about it... :) I had a small bite of the areca nut. It tastes bitter, and I don't quite like it... hehehe....

We saw someone was doing prostration. I don't know if it's common, but I just wonder how he could do that all the way up to the Tiger's nest. It was really a difficult practice and required lots of determination. Hope he could do it!! Jia you!!!

We really had lots of time waiting. Tensin borrowed the "khuru" or darts from the stall and played it w/ Gyeltshen, Vicky and Vicko.

It's a popular traditional Bhutanese sport, involves throwing darts outdoors with a target approximately 10 meters (33 ft) to 20 meters (66 ft) away. While playing the game, players actually stand near the “Target” as other players are throwing the darts from far away using all their strength and every time when they hit the paperback-sized target. . . the players "Sing and Dance" - (Source: S Arman S).

Below is their clips - for your enjoyment and to visualize what the games look like :)

Another one, with "Sing and Dance".... hahahaha....

Well, hope you enjoyed this post.. Thank you for friendly Bhutanese who have introduced their cultures, sports, beliefs, and many other things to us. It's a fate that we could meet together and hopefully our friendship can last forever....

If there is a fate, we might meet together again... see how fate and life brings into our lives.... :)

I am grateful being able to know some more Bhutanese even after I returned back to Singapore. Although some, I haven't met them yet, hopefully one day we can meet up and share more things together.... :)

Leg shembe shug...  Log jay gay la...

Day 6 - Flying back to Kathmandu, Nepal


Unknown said...

Wow! you have enjoyed Bhutan more than me. Part I, II & III were equally nice with beautiful pictures taken by a high megapixel camera.

I played "dart" yesterday among ourselves whole day. So I was too tired today to start any work, so I went through our blogs.

Keep up the same spirit.

Unknown said...

I mean to say I went through your Blogs.

Overcome Life said...

Thank you Tenzin! I'm glad that you chose spending your time reading my blog instead of doing other things.

This was my first time experiencing the joy of Bhutan. You can read more during your free time the Bhutan journey in Sep 2013, also on this blog.

Hope you have enough rest and have a wonderful day! :)

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