Breakfast at Raven’s Nest
We’ve finally reached the very last leg of this journey where I had to hike up the Tiger’s Nest. The hike was quite doable as long as you do it slowly at a consistent pace. Before I go into the details of the hike, let me show you what I had for breakfast that early morning.
I could order anything off their wide menu which mainly consist of the usual American breakfast items like French Toast, eggs, oat porridge, fruits and juices.
7.30 AM: Base of the Cliff
It is advisable to start trekking early in the morning before the huge crowds of tourists come. The weather was perfect that morning, but it started to rain by noon, so some tourists had to take shelter in the cafeteria.
We reached there around 7.45am in the morning, and there aren’t many tourists, so we had that ‘luxury’ of space as we climbed up. It wasn’t that warm either.
What to wear?
Do clad in a T-shirt and long pants. But do bring a jacket along with you as it might get cold on top. However, I did not use my jacket at all except at the temple where I had to put on my jacket to cover my arms. Your body will feel warmed up after all the trekking. I remember sweating quite a bit as well!
Do I need a walking stick?
I found the walking stick very helpful because it acts like a ‘third leg’ to support my body weight, thus adding less pressure on my knees.
I brought my hiking stick from Singapore. If you do not have your walking stick, you can purchase one for USD1 at the base of the cliff. You can purchase it from the locals there.
What if I cannot climb up?
For those who may not be able to climb up, you can choose to take the horses up. However, my guide warns that it might be dangerous to sit on the horses as the terrain is very steep and rocky. In fact, she mentioned that it is safer to walk on foot. Besides, the horses only take you up to the cafeteria. From the cafeteria, you will need to spend another hour to trek up to the temple.
I also do not encourage tourists to ride on horses because these horses that head up the cliff often defaecate as they walked up. Can you imagine what it was like to be skipping over piles of horse dung to avoid them? The smell from the manure was unbearable. I was already huffing and puffing, gasping for breath as I head up; with the stench surrounding me, I had to hold my breath in many instances. It was an unpleasant experience for me. I thought I was trekking up a mountain where I can take in fresh air and enjoy the beautiful view of nature. Unfortunately, it turned out that I had to bypass the polluted trekking route.
How was it like climbing up?
The air seemed thinner up there due to the high altitude. I was feeling breathless after walking up for ten minutes. But I tried to pace myself, taking small steps upwards. I try not to stop so that I will not lose my stamina. Taking short breaks and small sips of water help the body to recover quickly.
Some parts of the rocky terrain are slippery, and I witnessed some tourists missing their steps. Even my tour guide almost slipped and fell too. Hence, wearing a good pair of hiking boots is advisable. I bought my hiking boots from Decathlon for about $80, and they had served me well. Do get those boots with triangular spikes which will provide more friction to the shoes.
Thank goodness I travel light. I only bought a small sling bag with my DSLR, phone and water bottle with me to the hike. That is all you will need. Adding a burden to your shoulders would only sap up your energy.
I took a well-deserved rest at the cafeteria. All tourists are welcomed to drop by the cafeteria for some tea, coffee and biscuits. If you need the loo, there’s one at the cafeteria too.
The sugar biscuits and tea helped to fuel my body for the next leg of the hike.
The locals are amazing. They can trek in any footwear – slippers or high heels.
When you see the majestic temple up close with your own eyes (and not through someone else’s lens), you know it is all worth it.
That’s me with my walking stick. There were bubbles of joy rising inside of me when I reached this photo spot. Feelings of happiness stirred up in me as I knew I had made it to the top and I did not have to ‘suffer’ any longer.
Not Yet. Almost There!
Oh, wait! Did I mention that you must still walk up and down the steps for another 20 minutes before reaching the temple?
Inside the temple
You will walk past the waterfall before reaching the entrance to the temple where you have to surrender your camera and other belongings. They forbid tourists from bringing any items along with them.
The temple ground is huge! The temple was burnt down by a fire in 1998, but it has been rebuilt ever since. The reconstruction costs nearly almost 2 million US dollars. Within the temple, there were many prayer rooms and altars.
My tummy felt warm and fuzzy after filling it up with a hearty dish of Bhutanese red rice, chicken and fresh vegetables.
More Ema Datshi? Bhutanese people love eating cheese, huh?
Kyichu Lhakhang Temple
Dinner at Bukhari, Como Uma Paro
As a form of service recovery, Druk Asia decided to treat me a meal at a 5-star hotel. They brought me to Como Uma Paro for dinner, and the meal was on them. It was a pleasant gesture as they were apologetic by what has happened on the third day of my trip to Punakha. The restaurant was beautiful, and it was rather far away from the central Paro.
Since it was my last meal in Bhutan, I decided to order their Bhutanese set along with a smoothie. The food was great, but I could not finish it as the portion was rather generous. I might be able to share this set with another person.
The dumplings and noodle soup were exceptional. I was already feeling full right after the appetisers. The Bhutanese side dishes with red rice were mediocre; they do not differ much from the typical buffet dishes I had for the past five days in Bhutan.
Nonetheless, I was very thankful for being able to enjoy an excellent meal at a posh restaurant just before leaving Bhutan for Singapore.
Bhutanese Set Dinner
Jasha Bjobchee Jaju (Chicken and buckwheat noodle soup)
Kopi datsi momo ezay (Cabbage and local cheese dumpling with chilli dipping)
They also serve some buns and flatbread with sauces.
Sauteed okra with Sichuan pepper, garlic and chilli flakes
Chicken curry with mustard green and coriander
Fern tips with chilly and cheese curry
Beetroot, onion tomatoes and an orange segment with lime dressing and coriander
Bhutanese Red Rice
For desserts, I opted for mango cheese pudding with strawberry sorbet. It was delicious, but I was too full to savour the fruity flavours of the dessert. But I have to say that this solo trip ended on a sweet note despite the problems I encounter.
I still feel blessed by the Lord.
On Day 7, I caught the earliest plane at 7 am plus along with the other travellers who were leaving Bhutan. Most of the passengers looked familiar because a majority of them were on the same Singapore-to-Bhutan flight as me. All of us had spent seven days here too.
There were occasional turbulences during the flight but thankfully, I reached safely back in Singapore so that I can recount all my adventures and share them with you guys!
During the plane ride, I also spoke to a Singaporean lady who also stayed in Bhutan for seven days with her group of friends. She also truly enjoyed the trip, and from our conversation, I believe that she had an excellent and experienced guide who took care of them. I was envious at first, but now I realised that things to happen for a reason. I may not know what’s their stories but I do understand the heart of God and His love for His people.
That’s it for now, folks! Next up, I will be sharing my foodie trip to Penang!