Day 15 To Thimphu

Today we visited a nunnery on the outskirts   of Punakha. It has an amazing setting on a hilltop with views every which way. The place is a school for nuns. They must attend for nine years. Afterwards they can choose to teach or live a life of meditation.

The Sangchen Dorji Lhundrup Choeling College  was built by the current king’s grandmother. Inside the temple we admired the enormous statues and paintings, but we couldn’t take photos. The nuns were very friendly, spoke good English and served us tea and Danish butter cookies.

Our guide Chencho signed us in with the nuns to enter the temple.

Next we visited the Dzong in Punakha, situated at the meeting of two rivers: the female Mochhu and the male Phochhu. It was the capital of Bhutan until 1955.

It is exceptionally impressive, particularly as we arrived in time to see the monks chanting and blowing their long, bellowing horns in some kind of ceremony. Again photos were not permitted.

An old man greeted our guide on the bridge to the Dzong.

Another old man could barely make it up the steep steps to the temple.

Once there, he found a plastic chair where he could sit while turning the prayer wheel.

On the way to Thimpu we crossed the Donchula Pass at over 10,000 feet. It is marked by 108 stupas.

It takes a lot to maintain the property. These painters have the wall plus 108 stupas to keep them busy.

Thimphu is Bhutan’s largest town with a population of about 80,000. We had some free time after lunch to shop and street wander. The traffic officer directs traffic by hand signals. There was a lot of traffic.

I bought some very cheap fabric. (This woman clerk is a dentist pitching in at her family’s shop.)

I liked the label on the fabric, and my fellow traveler Ingrid and I split 3 meters  for about $1.50 total.

The dentist’s cousin is a music recording artist passionate about American folk singers like Bob Dylan and Johhny Cash. He says he’s having trouble getting Asian folks of his generation interested. We wished him the best of luck. This guy was totally global, one of the new gen connecting on Instagram and elsewhere.

We met a handicraft shop owner whose parents came from Tibet in 1959. We asked him about the photo on the right displayed in his store.  Who is it? It’s the Dalai Lama when he was young. The same sweet face.

He told us that the Bhutanese King is reluctant to meet with the Dalai Lama because Bhutan cannot afford to antagonize China. 

We are back in the big city and have many sightseeing plans for tomorrow.