Punakha and Thimphu


IMG_3328From Bumthang, my next destination was Punakha. It was a 7 hour drive, so we spent most of that day in the car. It was also raining, so it was a good day to be driving all day. On the way to Punakha, we even saw a small black bear cross the road. The scenery was very beautiful, especially as we got closer to Punakha. I didn’t realize that there were rice fields in Bhutan. I found the same lush green rice fields in Punakha that I found earlier in Bali (Indonesia). Somehow I thought Bhutan would be too cold for rice…

Unfortunately, I was still quite in pain that day because of the chili-induced blisters on my tongue… Instead of getting better, the pain got worse till the next morning. It’s really hard to avoid chili in Bhutan and so I am wondering if I had even more chili that day. The next morning, we did some sightseeing in Punakha. We went to the Punakha dzong, which is the most elaborate dzong of Bhutan and is built at the intersection of two rivers. We also visited the Zangtho Pelri Monastery with its large Nepalese style chorten. Finally, we took a walk in the rice fields which was my favorite part. We ended our walk at a monastery/temple (Chime Lhakhang) where many young monks were playing outside and families were having picnics. It’s in this monastery that childless couples can get blessed with a wooden phallus and archery set to have their children wish fulfilled.


IMG_3311Finally, we drove back to Thimphu and I stayed at Savitri’s place that night. Thimphu being the capital, and as big of a city as it gets in Bhutan, was finally the right opportunity for me to visit a pharmacy and get something for my tongue wounds. The pharmacist immediately knew what had happened and that these were chili-induced wounds, and prescribed me a creme. From then on, I was super careful about what I was eating. No more chili for me. I still have problems fully believing that chili has the power to induce such wounds, but apparently one shouldn’t take chili lightly…

That day was also “rainy blessed day”, which is a holiday in Bhutan.
People celebrate the last day of rain in Bhutan before the dry season. We had plans to go and celebrate that night, but because I wasn’t feeling great, I skipped the party. However, Savitri and her children cooked a really good dinner for me and we just hung out at her place together with her husband, her sister, and her children. It was a fun evening despite being sick.

The next morning, I spent a little bit more time in Thimphu. Most places were closed in Thimphu because of the holiday, but we made a quick stop at the zoo to see the Takin animal, one of Bhutan’s national animals. After that, we were off to our last stop, Paro.

See more photos here.