Woke up to a beautiful sunrise. The guides brought us metal bowls filled with hot water to wash in—heaven. My appetite was small, just some mango juice and a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast. We have a pony that is being broken in by following it’s mother who is part of the baggage train. The horse handler hobbled all the horses and donkeys on a line staked into the ground (picket). The donkeys had fun kicking and nipping each other in turn and braying loudly. The horse handler would yell and smack them on the bum in return. It was like watching a ill-behaved family interact with the father knocking heads (or bums) when things got out of hand
We quickly packed up and climbed up (of course!) to the Dzong or fortress temple. Perched on top of the ridge and surrounded by prayer poles, its thick stone walls were whitewashed and trimmed with red and gold accents. Inside we had to take off our shoes and leave our cameras behind. The smell of incense was thick and we could hear the chanting of the young monks as we came into the main room. Three enormous Buddha’s representing past, present, and future dominated the room. In front was an altar with offerings of rice, packaged goods (Doritos?!), and bowls of water. Chonda said that water is the best offering, as you have no attachment to it: at least not in Bhutan where water is plentiful. You’d use sand in Egypt or snow in Canada I guess. Cloth hangings both straight and cylindrical hung over the altar like multi-colored rainbows. We made a small offering and were blessed by the caretaker monk with a handful of water, which you are supposed to sip and then pour over your head. Thinking about Rob and his bowels of adventure I mimed the sipping part.
We scampered up a rickety ladder made from tree limbs to the top floor of the Dzong to see the monks in training. They were sitting by a window, cross legged, reading from strips of paper that were approximately 14” wide and 6” tall with Bhutanese script on them chanting and rocking to and fro. Curiosity of the young is universal as they seemed especially interested in our arrival and looked at us with big eyes. With their shaved heads and saffron robes they were quite the sight! We continued along the ridge through a forest of rhododendrons and descended down to a meadow passing through pines. Shorter trip today or so it seemed.