Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Journey to Merak and Sakteng: Day 2 - Rangjung - Merak

Basic Health Unit at Rangjung, Bhutan

The first half second day of our journey: Rangjung - Merak:

We woke up at 6 am in the morning. We had to get up early as the room would be opened for patients started 8 am. By 7 am we had finished packing our stuffs and it was too early to disturb Mdm Pem Deki. Therefore, after returning the mattress back where K got it the night before, we then had a walk surrounding the BHU building.

Beautiful surrounding at Rangjung BHU, Bhutan

Wow!!! It was such a beautiful place outside the building. The area was decorated artistically using recycle bottles, bottle caps, and woods material were used as seating area, partitions, chairs, etc. K brought the flask and went to the kitchen to get some hot tea. We sat down and breathed fresh morning air enjoying the beautiful surrounding :)

Breakfast with love by Mdm Pem Deki - BHU Rangjung, Bhutan :)

We went to Mdm Pem Deki's quarter at 7.30 am. As we entered, she had finished preparing various delicious dishes for us. Fried rice, ema datshi, and chana curry with a cup of hot ngaja filled our stomach happily :)

We were still not sure when and how to go to Merak yet. As it was still early, both of us decided to walk to Woesel Chhoeling Monastery, located not too far from where we stayed. With full stomach, it was really good to do some exercise, get natural vitamin D (sunshine), and feed our soul with blessings by Guru Rinpoche with many great Lamas whose pictures could be found inside the temple.

Morning walk to Woesel Chhoeling Monastery at Rangjung, eastern Bhutan :)

The monastery was founded by His Eminence Dungsey Garab Dorje Rinpoche in year 1989, built to provide a conducive place for monks to learn the Buddha dharma as expounded in the Dudjom New Treasure Lineage and carry out dharma activities for the benefit of Buddhist community in and outside the country. (Source info: Rangjung Foundation).

The building was still quite new and typical Tibetan temple. As we entered into the main temple, I was amazed by the Guru Rinpoche statues together with the pictures of many renowned Lamas, great teachers of all times. Suddenly, I had a good feeling that our trip would be successful and safe. K also mentioned that this morning, as we were on the doorstep of Mdm Pem Deki's house, she was coincidentally opened her door with a bucket full of water going towards outside. Bhutanese believed that a bucket full of water meant a good luck for people who were heading for a journey. Thank you Buddha for your blessings and guidance throughout our journey so far. Sadhu Sadhu Sadhu.

Rangjung town, Bhutan

We continued our walk and it led us to Rangjung town. We bought some banana before walking back to the BHU. Mdm Pem Deki told us that there was a patient who might have a trip back to Merak from the BHU, but they were not sure about the timing yet as the doctor had not yet done the round to check the patient's health condition. And after examining him, the patient still had to stay for another night. However, K managed to find a driver who was willing to send us to Merak in his Bolero, at the price agreed. We paid Nu 2,500 for the trip. It had already been discounted. Otherwise it might cost Nu 1,000 more for private trip like this. On the way, the driver stopped at the town and K went down to buy beans and chili for our food supply.

Beautiful view on the way to Merak, Bhutan

Stopped for a short break :D

The journey was amazing!!! I then understood why we needed Bolero to reach Merak. It was small rough road, which kept going up from below to the top of the mountain, passing by many Bhutanese houses, chortens, cows, horses, and so on. The feeling was like going back from Haa to Thimphu through Chelela Pass. 

Famous stupa - Legend of Khandro Drowa Zangmo at Chaling, Bhutan

Our driver chew doma all the time. As he chewed it, he shared with K in Dzongkha about places we passed by, and then K translated them to me. The village we passed by was called Chaling. The driver stopped his Bolero near one stupa. As Bhutanese, the legend of Khandro Drowa Zangmo must be familiar in your ears. But as foreigner like me, I had to search about the story and it went like this:

"Bhutanese are familiar with the legend of Khandu Dawa Zangmo – a beautiful and the younger queen of King Kala Wangpo. She bears the King two children – a boy and a girl. The son is named Kintu Legpa. The older and childless queen, Duem Hacham, harbors extreme jealousy and eventually masterminds the death of Dawa Zangmo and then attempts to assassinate Kintu Legpa and his sister. 

The henchmen, however, spares them but the two children fall into a river. Both survive and they reach Lho Mon (as Bhutan was known then), where Kintu Legpa becomes the king (probably a chief) of an unknown tribe. Duem Hacham also goes on to imprisons Kala Wangpo and rules the kingdom herself claiming the King is terminally ill.

Since time unknown the legend is a favorite drama piece played in schools all over Bhutan. A feature film has been made recently. While the legend and the story is told in the finest of details, it was only in recent years that historians have found the tribe that Kintu Legpa rules in Bhutan. The place is in Chaling in Shongfu Geowg in Tashigang District in Eastern Bhutan. In fact the people of Chaling calls the particular site Yuel Pemachen. Ruins of the palace of Kintu Legpa are still visible today."

Source: Vajra Community Bhutan

So, that's about it. Interesting mo la? :)

The view from the driver's window - On our way to Merak, Bhutan

More beautiful view along our journey :)

Beautiful Rhododendron along our way :)

We passed by many Rhododendron trees along our way. They were in white, pink, red, so beautifully coloring the greenery :) I enjoyed the journey very much!!! It brought us from one distinctive view to another. As the place got higher, the wind became colder. 

White prayer flags donated by our driver - On our way to Merak, Bhutan

We stopped again at the Pass above. The driver said he donated and installed the white prayer flags as per shown in the photos above. He repaired the bamboos that went down blown by the wind and took another short break. 

More white-washed stones built Stupa - On our way to Merak, Bhutan

House storing woods for bukhari - On our way to Merak, Bhutan 

Beautiful road view - On our way to Merak, Bhutan

Prayer flags under the blue sky - On our way to Merak, Bhutan

The journey continued. We finally reached Merak over 3 hours time from Rangjung.

Finally reached Merak!!! Yayyy!!! :)

Reached our destination - Merak, Bhutan :)

The driver stopped and parked his vehicle nearby the Stupa above. We went down and straighten up our legs. We reached Merak. But I could not believe it. I had to ask K few times, "Where are we? Have we reached Merak? Here is Merak? Are you sure??? Do we need to check with the driver again if we have reached Merak???" So many questions on my head. For me, it still felt like a dream to reach Merak in that short period of time. Because from the website that we went through, it's said that we had to trek for 1 to 2 days to reach there. Then I realized that the roadway had been made all the way to make the journey reachable by vehicle. Yalama!!! No wonder we had to pay so much!! After all, it's all worth it :P

Our relieved faces :D

We took our bags down, paid the driver, and bid him goodbye. K called his friend to ask the contact number of the staff who worked at the Park Range Office in Merak as we had to go there to make the Permit for Visiting the Protected Areas. Someone came down to fetch and show us the way to the office. It was about 5-minute walk way up. The staff was asking about my particular and issued us the permit below with a fee of Nu 1,000. The permit was only required for me, foreigner, and not necessary for Bhutanese citizen. 

Permit required to visit the Protected Areas of Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary - Bhutan

Posed inside the Park Range office in Merak, eastern Bhutan :)

Once the permit was done, we went down and looked up for home stay guest house built by local people. We found it with the help of the boy who guided us to the office. The lady carrying her grandson showed us our room in a while. It was located at the second floor. 

View of the Guest House - Merak, Bhutan

There were total of 3 bedroom available and we hired one of them. There was a share space outside the rooms where we could boil tea, cook and eat. Shared toilet was located outside with no water access. We had to collect the water from below and carry it using buckets provided. K bargained for the room and we were offered Nu 400 per night.

My favorite time while traveling - Home cooked food!!! :)

Ohhhh.. After settling down, I then felt hungry. Time shown was almost 3 pm. No wonder lah!!! K borrowed small rice cooker and curry cooker from the owner. Water kettle was there too. We immediately washed all the utensils up, boiled water, made coffee, cooked rice, and prepared curry. K cooked bean with cheese. We made miso soup from the miso paste we bought added with hot water. We completed our meal with ezzay. Woahhh!!! It felt so wonderful!!! Love it soooo muchh..... :D


Tashi Chenzom said...

I am from that region, nearby chaling. I just heard it verbally that the stupa built by Kentu legpa is somewhere near merak but had no clue that it was located on the way to merak and that also in chaling. I must have passed the stupa several times with no knowledge about it...poor me! But I am really glad that I got to read this post of yours where I knew the stupa now. This is great!

Rima Reyka said...

Hehehe... No worry! You'll have many chances to visit that place in the future. Moreover, you can also visit Merak easily :) Hope you'll be able to reach there la! ;)

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