As our guide had this habit of being tardy, we agreed to meet earlier the next morning – our third in Bhutan. We headed to Wangdue Phodrang – the easternmost part of the country that we got to visit during this trip. The relatively short distance from Punakha to Wangduephodrang was filled with rice terraces that extended high up in the mountainside. It was common to hear the farmers singing as a group while they harvested the season’s crops.
looking at the valley below
The main town of Wangduephodrang is situated on a hill, outside the dzong. The dzong itself is smaller, and not as well-maintained as its counterpart in Punakha. However, it is unusually shaped, and its exterior walls seem to follow the contours of the hill – something I didn’t see in the other dzongs.
curious monks at Wangdue Phodrang Dzong
After the visit, we had another long drive – this time to Paro. On the way, we passed by Dochula again. The fog seemed to have cleared a bit, but by no means was the Himalayan range in view. Near our approach to Paro, the sky cleared up and the weather turned much more favorable for us. The colors just seemed much more vibrant with the sun around as we passed by some of the same sights we saw only a day or two earlier amid a gray sky.
one of our random stops – near Paro
We ended up reaching Paro at about 1:30 – a bit behind schedule. On the way, we asked the driver to stop a few times. One particular stop was by the Paro River. With the sun up, the river was unbelievably clear and it made for a nice photo opp. We had lunch at a resto which again had a magnificent view – this time of Paro Valley.
Paro (Rinpung) Dzong – glad the sun was out!
Paro is a charming town, situated in a more spacious valley than the one in Thimphu but not as spread out. Unlike some other towns in Bhutan, the dzong in Paro literally dominates the skyline as it’s perched on a ridge overlooking the town. The Rinpung (Paro) Dzong, from outside, isn’t the most majestic looking in Bhutan but it is certainly one of the most well-maintained.The ornate carvings were restored well and looked new. It was also quite well-visited by the locals.
the magestic Paro Valley
Above the dzong is the National Museum which used to be a watch tower. Bhutan wouldn’t be the country that it is without religion and indeed, Buddhist themes dominated the artifacts inside. Aside from that, the place provided a bit more of a peek at how the locals lived their daily lives. It’s not that different from other agrarian societies, though it’s evident that rituals has traditionally played a key role.
at Paro Dzong
That evening, our guide brought us to a local bar for some nightlife. It was quite interesting to see – karaoke is also popular in the country. But local elements were apparent, from the picture of the king (even in the bars!) to the traditional musical instrument they played as accompaniment to the song performance. The local beer is cheap and good – it didn’t have the bitterness that’s found in the mainstream global brands.