Biking in Bhutan April, 2007      Home
 
Bhutan is a beautiful country about the size of New Hampshire. Comprised of high mountains, terraced rice paddies, and villages in valleys, it is very charming. This elderly Buddhist woman uses her prayer wheel and "rosary" beads for meditation and prayer.





Prayer flags are EVERYWHERE!





As are prayer wheels moving slowly in a clockwise direction,





or very quickly with the help of local children.





They are colorful and found on shops, in temples, and in town squares.





First things first: bikes must be assembled.  





We're ready to pedal--our guide, Khephal, is on his first bike ride in his country. Our driver, Namgay, followed behind in case we wanted a ride uphill or a drink of water.





The terrain is varied and scenic with rivers and terraced paddies





and rice about ready for harvest.





The Himalyas are immense and awe-inspiring.





Chortens with prayer flags once acted as sign-posts for travelers along with a mani wall.





And the dzongs, fortresses that are still working centers: part monastery and part administrative sites in each regional seat, some dating from the 8th century.





The Punakkha dzong was the more decorative, with every inch covered in beautiful paintings, carvings, and murals.





One of the many local deities in mural format.





Even the doorways are ornate.





On our last day, we had a real treat-a 2-hour hike to Tiger's Nest, a monstery and temple perched on a cliff overlooking the Paro Valley.





As we got closer, we were rewarded with nice vistas and photos.





The people of Bhutan are varied, from these Nepalese road workers with fancy nose piercings





to these school boys in the traditional costume. They are in the school band.





The elderly gathered at this temple for a local festival, spinning their prayer wheels and a few stories, I'm guessing.





And little boy monks in crimson robes were found in every temple--many are sent there at a young age as it is auspicious and practical to have a family member serving in a monastery.





Even little children wear the native dress as school uniforms.





Houses are generally found with classic paintings including the phallic symbol, a protective omen, part of their belief that a Divine Madman drove out evil spirits with his penis.





The architecture is very consistent with paint schemes, colorful doors, no nails, and usually roofs held down by stones.





The big games in town were carems





and archery, the national sport. Shot from a distance of 150 meters with a very small target, the game takes great skill.





We saw yaks





and the strange national animal, the takin, half-goat and half-cow.





Our biking adventure in Bhutan was really spectacular with some great views, grueling uphills, but awesome descents over 10,500 ft. passes. We went from Paro to the Ura Valley and back--definitely a trip of a lifetime.