Day 4 is a slow-moving day for me as we spent most of the time travelling from Punakha to Paro. During the journey back to Paro, we also stopped over for a while at Dochula Pass to take a breather. Like I mentioned, the journey was not easy especially for me as I have motion sickness. But I got better after popping an anti-motion sickness pill.
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National Museum in Paro
It was soon lunch upon reaching Paro. After lunch, we proceed to the National Museum in Paro which is located next to Ta Dzong, a watch tower built in 1649 to protect the Dzong. However, Ta Dzong suffered an earthquake in 2016, and all the museum exhibits are temporarily displayed at the annex located next to it (which is the one shown in the picture above).
Cameras are not allowed in the museum so I could neither take photos or videos. But the exhibits displayed inside the museum is quite comprehensive as it covers the cultural and religious aspects of Bhutan. On top of that, they also feature the diversity of flora and fauna which could be found within Bhutan. It took me about 30 minutes to view all the exhibits as it is a rather small museum.
On our journey from the museum to Paro Dzong, we drove past a scenic point where we had a good vantage point of Paro valley. We made a brief stop to take some pictures of the valley. It reminded me of God’s love as I am writing this post. Even as you are in the valley of darkness, the Lord who is watching over you right above, shining a ray of light above you. He had a clear view of what’s coming ahead, and to Him, you are part of this marvelous creation whatever how your past or future might look like.
Paro Dzong is also known as Rinpung Dzong which is a Buddhist monastery and fortress built in 1646 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. It is somewhat similar to Punakha Dzong, but it isn’t as magnificient as Punakha Dzong.
I noticed that a standard feature for each Dzong is the cantilever bridge that stems from the Dzong to the main ground, across the river.
It will be quite an eye-opening experience if you visit Bhutan during the peak season when all the traditional Bhutanese festivals are held. There will be performances and rituals performed in the significant Dzongs all over Bhutan. Right now, it is the non-peak season, so things are a little quieter there. On a brighter note, with the lesser crowd, I could take more architectural shots with people photo bombing my pictures.
The next place we visited was Paro Town. We took a short walk here. Since I will be heading back to Singapore in a couple of days time, I thought maybe I could shop for some souvenirs or snacks to bring back home. I happily exchanged my USD for some ngultrums, but it turned out that I did not have anything in mind to purchase. They accept either ngultrums or rupees.
Thus, my advice is to hold on to your cash and not purchase anything here unless you saw something that catches your eye.
Wonder how school buses look like in Bhutan? There are pretty similar to the American yellow school buses.
On Day 4, I checked into Gangtey Palace for a night. This hotel is very charming indeed, and the bigger rooms looked grand. I overhead one of the guests who fought so hard to book the governor’s room because she and her daughter love the interior design of the room. And little did I know that Gangtey Palace used to be an actual palace!
This palace was built in the late 1800s for the administrative governors to stay. In 1994, this property was transformed into a hotel for tourists to stay. Overlooking the palace is Paro Valley and Paro Dzong. At night, you can see Paro Dzong ‘glowing in the dark’ with the night lights switched on.
They served the welcome tea with some biscuits for my room as I decided to have them in the comfort of my own room.
I felt very enclosed in the small single bedroom so I requested if I could change to another room which is brighter. Glad I requested to change room because this room, as shown below, was very spacious and the amenities looked new. The room has two windows so natural light can stream into light up the room.
I wished I actually went around to explore the hotel grounds but it was drizzling and the sky darkened very quickly after the run.
Overall, I am satisfied with my stay at Gangtey Palace even though the staff there may not be as warm and friendly. The food served in the restaurant was decent. For breakfast, they served eggs and toast.
Watch the video below to find out what I bought in Bhutan on Day 4! You will get to see how my room in Gangtey Palace looks like took.