Today was magic – just absolutely magic. We walked across a suspension bridge, with prayer flags flapping in the wind. Then continued through rice paddies and up a hill (passing a few cows along the way) to visit the impressive Khamsum Yuelly Namgyal Chorten (Stupa). In the temple, we climbed three flights of steep stairs that were well worth the effort when we witnessed the incredible view of the Punakha Valley below!
Our afternoon walk was a leisurely one, once again through rice paddies, and up to the temple dedicated to Lam Drukpa Kuenly – otherwise known as the “mad monk.” With jasmine scenting our final few steps, we arrived at the temple to be greeted by a small group of very friendly Twainese who were traveling with a monk. A group member approached me with a huge smile and proceeded to tell me that the monk’s mother had come to this temple years ago to pray for a son. Not long after, she received her wish. Her next story concerned a female member of their group who had been to this temple previously and had also successfully prayed for a son. It was in this manner that I learned the special significance of this temple. From our guide, we heard many amusing stories of the “mad monk” and just how the temple’s reputation came about.
Traveling in Bhutan in the shoulder season has had its rewards. Yes, the mist may have obscured our view of the Himalayas at the top of the pass, but there are few other tourists and minimal traffic. It has not been uncommon for us to be the only travelers at a restaurant or local site. This is sure to change as Bhutan increases in popularity and tourists begin arriving during all seasons of the year.