Monday, 29 March 2010

Thursday 18th March

Up early (again) to trek to the Tiger's Lair Monastery (Taktsang) at the head of Paro valley. The pine forest smells lovely in the cold morning air. A few rhodedendrons are coming out, but at this alititude we're too early for most. The majority of the climb is occupied in theological discussion (where's John when you need him?). Tenzin is very curious about others' history, culture and religion. How do you explain the exact nature and role of the Holy Ghost - answers on a post card?!?!?

Bhutan seems to be a remarkably sane place; its key metric being Gross National Happiness (GNH) which is measured by census annually. Equality and equal opportunities for all seem to be enshrined in their constitution and the king has just abdicated in favour of a democratic parliament. With only 600,000 people it is more like an extended family than a country.

Trek to the monastery really was worth the view, particularly since we were the first up there! The monastery clings (literally) to the cliff face; it originated in the 17th century but has repeatedly burnt down and has been rebuilt most recently in 2002. This is due to an unfortunate Buddhist love of butter lamps.

On the way down we visited an archery field where the local blokes unwind after work. Not sure how they can even see, let alone hit, the target. Even with high-tech compound bows it's pretty impressive.

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