There was low cloud as we landed in Paro and we could see rain down in some of the side valleys. Paro is supposed to be a very dangerous airport as the flight path involves weaving between mountains at very close quarters. We felt the plane twisting and turning but couldn’t really see anything. The airport is small and pretty casual. We asked at the currency exchange if we could change some Indian rupees as they didn’t have them up on their board, the Ngultrum (Bhutanese currency) is pegged to the rupee on a 1 for 1. Sure they said, there wasn’t even any commission to pay. We literally passed them some money and they paid us back in local currency – it has to be the easiest currency exchange ever. We were met by our guide Pensoc and driver Sangay, who greeted us with white scarves.
Rucksacks were taken off us and car doors opened and closed for us. All we had to do was slip into our nice clean shiny transport, where bottles of water and welcome packs including copies of our itinerary and free postcards with stamps already on were waiting for us.
First stop was a restaurant for lunch in town. We’d had breakfast at the airport and been fed on the plane and it was only a 2 and 1/2 hr flight so we declined and had tea and biscuits instead. In the afternoon we visited Paro Dzong (a Dzong is a fort-monastery typically found in Bhutan and Tibet which houses both monks and district government offices). Built in 1644 it sits high up on a steep hillside dominating the town.We were driven up to it and Sangay dropped us and Pensoc off. The Dzong is both impressive and beautiful. We visited the temples. One had stunning wall paintings protected by hanging curtains. The other, the central temple, women aren’t allowed in but it turned out we could enter the first floor, above the temple and look down into it. There was a ritual going on so we watched for a while.
When we left the Dzong we walked down the pathway to the side down to the bridge at the bottom. Sangay was waiting or us at the other side. Before heading to the hotel we went into town as we needed to pick up some gifts for the nuns we were going to stay with the next day. Pensoc had no idea what we should get, but after a couple of phone calls we settled on a bag of milk powder and 2 bags of ‘butter’ for the butter lamps.
The hotel was high up a hill, it surrounded a beautiful courtyard garden and had some cabin type buildings in the grounds and we got one of those. Surrounded by trees and with a great view of the valley when the cloud actually lifted, it was very peaceful. Better yet it actually had comfy beds. It started raining not long after we arrived and continued all night.
- There are no vehicle horns
- There is no rubbish at the side of the road
- We hate having the car doors opened and closed for us
Click on any image to enlarge and scroll through