the secret, sacred wonders of paro valley

Paro Valley, Bhutan

[My below post was published in the March–April 2017 edition of Druk Air’s in-flight magazine Tashi Delek. All proceeds from my fees went to support the Ability Bhutan Society, a charity supported by Her Majesty the Gyaltsuen in aid of persons living with moderate to severe diverse abilities.]

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Deep in a valley in Western Bhutan, on the banks of the Paro Chhu river, lies a town suspended in time. The emerald green fields glimmer in the sun, punctuated with scraggy scarecrows. A lone woman in a purple kira tills the soil under an azure blue sky.

Lao Tzu’s words, from way back in the 6th Century BC, echo in my mind:

“Be still,
Stillness reveals the secrets of eternity.”

My reverie is broken by hollers and laughter in the distance. The farmers have started setting up their produce in the local market comprising a string of wooden tables piled high with fresh and sun-dried vegetables. The latter help carry the Bhutanese over the cold dry sterile winters. A line of red-robed monks file past me, a gentle smile on their lips.

It’s the crack of dawn, and I am in Paro. The main street I am walking down is lined with traditional buildings and was paved only recently, in 1985. Continue reading

the taktsang trek for the non-trekker

taktsang1
That little white speck in the middle—that’s the destination, Taktsang Palphug Monastery, Bhutan. The climb up the ravine—that’s the journey 🙂

I am not a trekker. Don’t get me wrong. I am not lazy. 😛 I can walk miles and miles. But walking on level ground and up boulders, shrubbery, and running streams are two very different things. My excuse is that I spend most of my time in large metropolises. I am aware it is a weak argument. I know many, way more urbane than me, who sip their wines amidst swirls and dress as if they’d just stepped out of a fashion glossy, able to clamber up a mountain with equal ease. How do they do it??? I’d love to be able to. Truly.

But that has not stopped me from attempting climbs and treks which are universally accepted as being spectacular. And doable. Taktsang Trek was one such. Continue reading