Adventure Bhutan: Sunday

footbridge to the monastery in Punakha
footbridge to the monastery in Punakha
Sunday morning, after the prior evening’s rest, and at least one cockroach, we enjoyed a breakfast at the hotel and drove back through town (blink, it’s gone!) and to A gravel lot at one end of a footbridge across a river, and parked, rain spitting on our windshield.
Kate, kids at Chamsum Yueli in Bhutan
Kate, kids at Chamsum Yueli in Bhutan
Our destination was Chamsum yuelling Monastery, a 45 minute hike up the side of a foothill (mountain). We hiked through the muddy path between rice paddy fields, a small stream crossing our path frequently. The rain stopped. The monsoon rains have given the land enough water to put the paddies to bursting, but I didn’t see but one or two people working the hundred or more paddies we saw. Water brimmed in each one, and a small sluiceway from each above let water continuously flow into those below, the valley awash with the musical babbling, until it finally became a small runoff brook and tributary to the rushing 3+4 river below.
Chamsum Yueli Monastery, Bhutan
Chamsum Yueli Monastery, Bhutan

Our group made it to the base of the slick clay foothill, and we began climbing up, getting passed by a couple people from The bhutan foundation, and sweating so profusely that rivulets spattered the ground in front of us and joining the water in the paddies below. The path wound up a clay track and then became a paving stone way through the woods, and we finally took some steps up to the Monastery grounds.
Once through the vine-entangled awning, we came into the grounds, a square patch of green with the monastery at it’s center. The short walls lining the perimeter of the manmade plateau allowed us an incredibile view of the verdant valley and river rushing through it, so high that we could hear it some mile away.
Bridge to the rice paddies below Chamsum Yeli Lhakhang in Punakha
Bridge to the rice paddies below Chamsum Yeli Lhakhang in Punakha

The monk in charge admonished Dordgie for those of us not fully covered, and in the end only Jean and I were allowed in, having long pants and collared shirts. No cameras are allowed, so you’ll have to take my word for it that the paintings covering the walls and the woodwork inside were incredibly detailed and exquisite. We were able to climb two levels in the monastery and look out the balconies, even higher over the valley below.
One of the volunteers managed to convince a butterfly to alight on her hand, delighting the girls. We started our hike back down and the boys (contrary to marching orders) immediately ran down the mountain. When it became apparent they weren’t listening and holding up at switchbacks turns, I jogged after them. I spotted them halfway across the rice paddies, Xander’s orange shirted arms waving jubilantly at us from the dense green.
After a healthy chewing out for running off while in a foreign country where they don’t speak the language, know the customs, nor speak the language, we drove back through town and stopped to see the dzong, probably one of the most beautiful dzongs we saw the entire trip. After crossing the river on a bridge, onto the grounds, there were massive beehive honey combes being constructed from the soffets, far above our heads as we climbed up the ladder/steps into the fortress.
Eleanor at Punakha Dzong
Eleanor at Punakha Dzong

More temples, more paintings, more amazing. Afterwards, we drove on, back to Thimpu and over the ridge, a three hour drive, and back to Chuniding Resort. We had yet another amazing dinner, and turned in, ready for our final day of adventure.