We flew from Phuket to Bangkok and arrived in the afternoon. We did a brutal overnight camping stop in Bangkok airport and then flew out at 5:40am in the morning. We did a fueling stop in Calcutta for about thirty minutes and then took to the air for our final flight into Paro, Bhutan. As we approached Bhutan you could see mountains piercing the sky and behind those were even bigger bright white monolithic Himalayan mountains forming a wall across the sky. It was incredible. We dropped down through the clouds and we were skimming through the valleys of immense mountains on both sides. You could see Bhutanese monasteries on the peaks as we flew by. Our altitude must have been around 500 feet or less for several minutes as we approached the landing strip. Then we touched down smoothly… We had arrived.
I think the Paro airport is the most interesting and beautiful airport I have ever seen. We made it through immigration and met our friends from the institute Thinley and Jigme. They drove along winding switchbacks up the valley into the city of Paro. We had some refreshingly cool mango drinks and then they helped us check in at our hotel. After we had a shower and a quick rest we travelled up the valley again to an ancient Dzong (a fortress structure). The Dzong we visited is now a ruin because of a fire there. But it is the site of the last great war in Bhutan against the Tibetans, where the Tibetans were finally defeated and Bhutan found it’s first unifying leader for the country. We travelled back down the valley a bit and stopped to hike up to the top of a ridge line where we were to meet Thinley’s sister-in-law. Her husband is a Buddhist Rinpoche. So her home is next to a temple. We went inside and saw pictures of her father, a very famous Rinpoche that actually built the temple many years ago. Sadly I don’t have pictures of the temple, it is mostly forbidden. After that we had some tea with her and then came back down the ridge to the transport. We headed back into town and crashed at the hotel for like 12 hours. Welcome to Bhutan, fantastic! More images for this post to come! I have to go!