Final Days in Asia

It’s hard to characterize exactly how one feels when confronted with the idea of leaving Bhutan.  Of course we all want to see our families and our focus is on home and getting back to our lives.  At the same time, at one time or another during that last day, I heard just about everyone say they were not ready for the trip to end.  The end of this trip really crept up on us, and some of us just weren’t ready to go…..Sebi said it best when he mentioned, “This trip went so quickly that just as we got into it, it was over.”

Our final morning was easy and included a short drive to the airport.  Namgay sat with us at breakfast and we talked about this trip, future trips, and thoughts about Bhutan and the U.S.  Cole and Layla both said, “I’m definitely coming back” and Miles said, “This place gets into your bones.”  Miles is so right.  One visit to Bhutan really captures your imagination and you take with you a sense of the people and place unlike other trips we have been on.

As we boarded the flight, many of us looked back on the Paro valley.  The green rice paddies, the light shining through the clouds, all made the departure idyllic.

The flight stopped in Dakar, Bangladesh and then onto Bangkok.  When we got off the plane and waited for the van to our hotel, the heat was oppressive at 40 degrees Celsius.  We waited for a while and finally the van showed up and we got to the Great Residence Hotel (http://greatresidencehotel.com) by about 5:00 PM.  An outdoor pool made this day a bit more relaxed.

That last evening in Bangkok, we wandered the streets looking for some food….we found a place that had outdoor, covered seating and we ordered food en mass to share.  The food was great and very reasonable….we enjoyed sharing a final meal together in good old family style dining….it was a wonderful end to the trip to Asia.

We had to be at the airport the next morning by 3:30 AM….this departure required waking before 3:00 to make the shuttle to the airport.  I am glad we got to the airport that early because the place was crowded and any later arrival would have been disastrous!

The six-hour flight to Tokyo-Narita was uneventful and we landed in Tokyo tired.  Matt immediately found a place to buy a hot dog and some of us found a great noodle shop to have a local meal of udon noodles with tofu or chicken.  Many of us found last minute gifts for family and friends, and we prepared for the nine-hour flight to San Francisco.

The flight back home was necessarily rough in the sense that we were tired, lacked any real sleep for a couple of days, and Struggled with simple tasks in our sleep-addled brains.

Climbing to Taktsang Temple

The Tiger's Nest in the Clouds.
The Tiger’s Nest in the Clouds.

The hike to the Tiger’s Nest is a remarkable experience.  The trail is steep, muddy, and brutal in places.  The steps up to the temple number 700, and the view of the temple itself is among the most spectacular in the world.

We started our day early, at 7:00 AM, and headed to the trail by 8:00.  We were walking by 9:00 AM and headed UP!  On this day, a Sunday in Bhutan, hundreds of folks traveled to the temple.  A large majority of travelers were Indian soldiers training in Bhutan.  Others included Japanese, Indian nationals, and a scattering of folks from Europe and North America.

The crew is ready!
The crew is ready!
Taktsang Temple Complex
Taktsang Temple Complex

As you can see from the few photos posted here, the trail was challenging for most of us.  At the same time, it was enjoyable and a beautiful day, cloudy, humid, and not too hot.

I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

The slow internet connections here in Bhutan have limited the number of pictures I can load.  Today you will see only two….hopefully I can load a few more in Bangkok this afternoon.