We ventured in search of another monastery for the first hour of our hike as we were told it had a really cool artifact to look at, but when we got there it was under the process of being renovated. We asked a few of the workers if we could try to peek our heads in anywhere but they all gave us a firm no. Too much work to be done I suppose. So we headed on back to find our original path via another route and continued our way up the mountain towards our destination. Along our way we were able to take in some wonderful sights - prayer flags, some small chortens, a man hanging some prayer flags, a monkey making some crazy calls, and a spectacular trail. There were some parts that did make us work, but on the whole the trail does some nice undulating and gave us a few breaks on our way.
We made sure to take a few breaks so that we could eat a few snacks. We brought a giant bar of dark chocolate that became an early lunch snack. Man that thing tasted good. The highlight of our trek up, to me at least, was the tent-like structure we came along that was made entirely out of prayer flags. It looked as though it was set up as a place to break and have tea, though there was no table or chairs or tea. The way the sun was beating down at the moment it seemed like the perfect spot to take a nice respite. Anyway, it was a really wonderful spot to come upon and I took some time to marvel over what it might actually be used for.
The real draw to this particular hike though, is what is at the top. Phajoding Monastery (yes they have a website) has been looming over the city of Thimphu for quite some time. At one point it was well cared for and full of wealth, but then with the change of the times things shifted and it became somewhat dilapidated. Then it was given a new purpose and came under new management, or that's how I am describing what I read about. Not only is the monastery now being taken care of again but it has a spectacular purpose. It has been doubling as an orphanage for young boys with no where else to go. They are welcomed into the monastery and raised as monks, with a place to live and grow. How wonderful is that? Many religious buildings exist for good purposes, but some of them rise above these purposes and become a place where the broken can become whole. Phajoding is one of these such places and it was special to visit it. You can actually visit that website and donate to the orphanage.
When we arrived we were almost immediately asked if we would like some tea. There were some young boys sitting at a table (as pictured) and they were quite excited to offer us some piping hot tea. What a welcome surprise! So we took a much needed break after arriving at the monastery while drinking some delicious tea and taking in the amazing view over Thimphu. What a fantastic gift the monks had given us by being so willing to show hospitality to people who just wander up to their monastery. Such a gift allowed us to relax and enjoy the environment with an optimal level of peace. It is really hard not to be happy when receiving an unexpected gift of kindness from children in monk robes.
Taken inside the tent made of prayer flags. It was super cool to stand inside.
Hiking up was a real joy - so many sights to see.
It is fun to pass the mules and horses as they carry things down and up. In this group one of them passed so closely he pressed up against me. Close encounter!
Sarah enjoying her tea and watching the monks.
Feisty dogs. It was fun to play with them.
Too cute to handle.
Sarah took these super cool shots from inside the monastery entryway back out.
Honey Stingers helping give us some nutrition to make it through our hike.
Gotta hone those mad skills.
And those skills are no good without a proper field.
Doing the job.
Taking time to pose for a shot.
Exploring near the monastery.
Modern life mixed with the traditional.
After finishing the hike we got to see some Takin, the national animal of Bhutan. Never seen anything quite like it before. We were far off but it was fun.
Some tiny Takins too! Till next post.