Rise and shine! It’s Day 5, and we headed to Haa Valley which is about a 3-hour drive away from Paro. After the slight evening shower, the skies were clear again, and the weather then was much colder.
I woke up rather late for breakfast as I slept quite late the night before. Otherwise, I might be able to do a morning walk before heading to the restaurant for breakfast.
Breakfast at Gangtey Palace
The restaurant is located in another building, so I had to make a short walk from my room down to the front of the palace. From the restaurant, you will get a panoramic view of Paro Valley too.
Most of the guests must have eaten their breakfast before that, so it was much quieter with just a couple of guests sitting around.
For breakfast, I have a choice of fried or scrambled eggs served with some toasts and bacon. I skipped the bacon and ordered a fried egg with some toast. I like spreading butter and honey on my toast. Butter and honey are best friends and they ‘tango’ so well together on the toast.
After breakfast, I packed my luggage as I would be moving to another hotel in Paro. When I headed to the lobby, my guide was already waiting for me with a set of traditional Bhutanese costume called Kira (for females). So apparently, you can request to loan their traditional costume during the trip. I left it to my guide to decide when I should wear it but on second thoughts, I should have requested to wear the costume earlier. That’s because I had to take it off because it was so uncomfortable and I was having motion sickness as the car drove through the winding and bumpy roads.
That’s my driver, and he is 30 this year too! He seemed very quiet at first, but somehow we broke into a fruitful conversation towards the end of the trip. He turned out to be kind and understanding.
Chele La Pass
Like Dochula Pass, the Chele La Pass is the highest road pass in Bhutan which you would bypass if you are going en route from Paro to Haa valley. Chele La Pass has an elevation of 3, 988 meters above sea level.
According to the travel itinerary given to me, there was suppose to be a picnic lunch at Chele La Pass, and I was looking forward to it all day. My heart sank an inch when my guide told me that we could not have lunch due to the weather conditions. It was too cold and windy. She explained that my food would turn cold if I brought it up to the mountains. You bet, I was disappointed.
When we reached the pass, we got off the car, and my guide left me on my own to walk up the mountains, while she went to hang out with the other male guides. What could I say?
It was freezing and windy up here, and you should have a thick winter coat with you. After you descend to Haa Valley, the weather gets warmer again.
Many Indian tourists were touring Bhutan as well so you will see many of them as you tour about Bhutan. Since those are heading towards Haa valley would make a pitstop at Chele La Pass, you will see many cars and buses lining along the narrow mountainous roads.
There were also some store vendors selling hot food and beverage to tourists. It is nice to have a hot drink in one hand as the weather is cold up there.
I did not walk very far up to the top of the mountain as I could not bear the cold. After snapping some pictures, I returned to the car and continued our journey to Haa Valley.
In my honest opinion, I do not think Haa valley is worth a visit as it is just another Bhutan town which resembles Paro. This valley was only opened up to tourists in 2002, and there aren’t many places and attractions to visit here at Haa valley.
It took us about 3 hours to get here and another 3 hours for us to return to Paro. It is quite a wasted trip spending so many hours traveling to and fro when there is nothing special for tourists to view. I am now convinced that my 7-day trip to Bhutan could be reduced to just 5 days.
Currently, there is only one hotel in Haa Valley, and we had our lunch there. After lunch, the guide brought me to walk along a small town in Haa Valley.
When I asked the guide if Bhutan has its local snacks, she replied that Bhutanese people do not really snack and even if they do, they only like to chew betel nut. Just like the ones shown below.
Lhakhang Karpo (White Temple)
If you visit Haa valley, your guide would probably take you to two popular temples – the white temple and black temple. I had only been to the white temple called Lhakhang karpo.
When we were touring the site, we saw a group of monks squatting down to remove the weeds growing in between the cracks of the tiles. My guide then shared with me that needy families usually send their sons to become monks where they will be given food, education and a place to stay.
My guide said that the black temple (Lhakhang Narpo) was under some sort of a renovation so we cannot enter the temple but we could take a look from the outside. I decided to give it a miss and chosen to head back to Paro as I was feeling drained by then.
Back to Paro
On our way back, we passed by Paro International airport. It could have been one of the smallest airports in the world judging by the number of plane runways they have.
Raven’s Nest Hotel
Finally, I checked into my last hotel in Bhutan. I actually enjoy moving from one hotel to another as I enjoyed the process of discovering new places. Besides, I did not have much stuff to pack in my luggage as I tend to travel light these days.
The hotel here was beautifully furnished, and I really like the vibe here.
The staff welcomed me with some black tea and a basketful of their traditional pastries called Khabzey. It’s a deep-fried pastry made of dough, and it tasted so crunchy and delightful.
The Tiger’s Nest Temple (or Paro Taktsang) is located just right behind the hotel. The holy spirit in me must have led me to chose the right accommodation for the remaining two nights.
Can you spot the Tiger’s Nest in the midst of the lush greenery in the photo right below?
My room was located on the lower ground and too bad, it wasn’t facing the cliff where the Tiger’s Nest is found. Overall, I am satisfied with my room except for one irritating fly which flew in and never came out. I managed to kill it on the second day though.
Don’t you just love the room? It’s modern and very chic. Considering that this is a 3-star hotel, I would say it is quite a steal. The rooms are equipped with a safe, coffee and tea-making facilities as well as bathrobes.
Next to the shower area in the bathroom is a bathtub. The bathroom has a huge wide window for ventilation. But if you look out of the window, you could also see the balcony of another room right above. And whoever is standing at the balcony right upstairs might be able to see what’s happening in my bathroom. I only came to realize this on my second day. Perhaps I should have to sound it out to their staff. I’m praying for the next guests who are going to stay in this same room as I do.
I went to bed really early that evening because I am setting off at 7 am in the next morning for the hike up to the Tiger’s nest. It was the highlight of my trip. Don’t miss the next blog post!