Thursday, April 8, 2010

April 8-Paro, Bhutan

It's a late night here in Paro. Dr_EAM and I decided we needed to experience some real local culture with a massage.  I think he's mush at this point now and since I opted for more of the Thai style, it's likely I've grown an inch (btw- Thai style is translated as woman balancing herself on her knees on your rear-end pulling your arms backwards and over your head.  You know, just in case you were wondering).

Today we left Thimpu for Paro, which is our final destination in Bhutan.  There is so much of this mysterious country we have not seen but we are both chalking those experiences up to "next time."

While in Paro we went to the National Museum that houses information the history of Bhutan with everything pre-1600's written in mystical form "and then Guru Rinpoche flew over the mountains on the back of a tigress to defeat the demon..." as well as information on flora and fauna of the country (they have a stuffed Snipe there) and weapons from past battles.  Though, in the weapons room it was made clear this was only for the times when they had been fired upon and there were three Buddhist sayings on the walls about how it is better to control oneself than succumb to anger.

Next we went to the Rinpung Dzong, one of the 108 dzongs Shadrung Ngawang built in the 1600s in order to tame the demoness of the Himalayan mountains.  When we went in I honestly was at the point of "okay, another temple, 1000 more Buddhas."  Sort of like the point I've come to sometimes when touring Europe "ho hum, another cathedral."  But as we turned the corner to enter the grounds there were crowds of people, all seated on the ground, being served butter tea by old monks.  We had walked right into the dzong's annual ceremony.  It is, unfortunately, one of those moments that a picture cannot adequately convey the scene.

Our next stop was at an old fortress that use to be the main business center for dealing trades with Tibet.

Old Monks Once Young:
While at the first dzong I witnessed something that would continue to play out for the rest of the day- a six year old monk jumping from step to step and spinning in a circle the way my boys love to do.  The feeling I had from watching this boy is hard to explain.  It wasn't sadness, because I can, in some way, understand why his parents would make the sacrifice of sending him to the monastery (good life, security, merit, karma), but it was almost the realization that all these older monks that I've loved to watch go about their daily lives were young once too.

Later on that day we saw a group of 17 year-old-monks playing keep-away with one of the group's outer robe, and then two 9 year-old monks running round together after one had stolen the other's sandals while he was in the temple, and then a group of mixed ages running through the dzong popping each other with fabric.  And this realization of old monks once young, is the remaining collection of pictures for today.

Tomorrow- back to Bangkok


Michelle said...

I've enjoyed all the posts Kate! Sounds like an amazing trip. I too had a massage today, however, not Thai style of course :) So the Asian woman on your back, I thought that was only in movies :) Blessings, on the rest of your trip.

Summer said...

I've never thought about how old monks were once little boys. An interesting thought indeed. I wish I had been able to read/hear the histories - sounds amazing!

andee said...

let me know if you are dropping by Japan while your over this way ;)

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