Hike up to Tiger's Nest in Paro

Trip Start Dec 15, 2012
Trip End Dec 27, 2012

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Where I stayed
The Village Lodge Paro
Read my review - 5/5 stars
What I did
Takshang Lhakang (Tiger's Nest) Paro
Read my review - 5/5 stars

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Sunday, December 23, 2012

    Paro is quieter than Thimphu.  Its a city, but not the capital city.  I stayed at a hotel called the Village Lodge, which is a luxury hotel converted from a farm house.  It is literally amidst rice fields and looks like any old farm house, but the rooms inside are nicer than any other hotel I stayed at through my entire India, Bhutan, Nepal trip.  Heated floors, as many heaters as you ask for, rainfall shower heads, bathtubs, course dinners... Only downside was a couple of flies in the dining room and in my room, but they seemed harmless.  Also, the concept of the hotel is experiencing traditional Bhutanese culture, so there was no wifi, telephones, or television in the rooms.  These could be found in the common room for urgent matters.  At first this seemed inconvenient, but I did feel like I could relax at a deeper level and sleep better without the idea of the world at my fingertips. 

    We visited at an off-time, so we were pretty much the only guests at the hotel.  This offered us a chance to get to know the manager who is a mother of two and only a couple years older than us, as well as the two servers who happened to be sisters younger than us.  The driver was on leave, so the chef helped drive our luggage to and from the outside gate when we arrived and left.  Warm, freshly baked homemade bread was present at both breakfast and dinner.  For breakfast, you could order your own eggs, and they served entirely too much delicious and healthy food at dinner. 

    I spent the majority of my time in Paro hiking up to the Tiger's Nest, which is a temple literally hugging a cliff.  The mountain is considered as part of the (inner) Himalayas-bucket list, "hiking the Himalayas," check!-and breathtaking views will make the grueling labor worth it along the way.  The high altitude makes it even more difficult, as I was out of breath just going up three flights of stairs to my hotel room, but was more than possible for the average person.  Some people did opt for riding a horse up, which needs to be booked in advance.  I wish I had known how dusty it could get, as I was inhaling a lot of sand on my way down and wished for a mask.  The manure from the horses did not create a pleasant fragrance, either.  I was sneezing through the whole afternoon and evening after the hike, but I definitely do not regret doing the hike.  I had ample opportunity to meet a lot of other tourists and tour guides.  We met people from Hong Kong, Japan, America, and Great Britain.  It was funny; we kept running into the same people until we left the airport. 
    My friend purchased a souvenir at the bottom of the trail, and neither she nor the merchant had change.  Our tour guide asked a group climbing down if anyone had smaller bills in exchange for a large bill and without hesitation, a local man offered his cash, which was a bit surprising.  In other countries, we would generally have to search for a small store and buy something to break a large bill.  But everyone seemed to be one community offering a hand here.

    After the hike, we went shopping in downtown Paro.  There wasn't much to buy for my own interests, but we were able to briefly interact with some of the local children which was quite fun.  There were some boys playing with puppies and about to play soccer.  There were some girls playing quietly by a field.  And there were quite a few dogs blissful napping and all of a sudden waking up and barking in a group at random cars.

     It was sad to leave Paro, as by the third day, we had become good friends with our driver, tour guide, and hotel staff.  We wished we had more time to explore this beautiful and friendly country, but we had to leave, regardless.  My friends were almost in tears as they left, but we got their email addresses keep in touch and also be friends on Facebook.  

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