Lobesa, located some 100 kms east of Paro, served as the place of our accommodation on 28th Oct. morning when we checked in there for a couple of hours to freshen up for our day long trip to Paro, as well as for the night halt on the same day before bidding adieu to Bhutan the next day. Lobesa, as described by our guide, is the windiest town in Bhutan and also the most fertile in the otherwise mountainous kingdom. Time for something about our accommodation which was nothing more than an inn with all rooms on the ground only (i.e, no other floor above the ceiling). The inn was built as per the Buddhist architecture with each room having colourful & intricate paintings on its walls, which for any novice would mean nothing but would definitely attract a true connoisseur of art. And the best part of our room was breathtaking and panoramic view of the Himalayan ranges with paddy fields at the foothills. After quick bath, we had a quick breakfast too and set off for the 3 hours drive to Paro, which was our the last major phase of our Bhutanese trip.
Nearly 3 hours of drive east of Lobes, brought us to one of the major towns in Bhutan, Paro, which also has the only international airport of Bhutan. The international airport is not more than a modest airfield which primarily connects this Himalayan Kingdom by air with Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Singapore and Bangkok. Druk Air serves as the national airlines for Bhutan and is the only gateway for the common man in Bhutan to the outside world by air. Few chartered flights also fly to Kathmandu from Paro international airport. I recommend to always keep the 'flight to Paro' as the last option if you are planning a budget trip, or should be opted for in case of emergencies, since most of the times, the flight costs usually remains bit expensive and will be a lion's share of your budget. Well, upon reaching on the outskirts of Paro, we decided to go on a trek uphill to the famous Taktsang Monastery (also called as Tiger's Nest) perched on the cliffside of the upper Paro valley. It is one of the most prominent & sacred Buddhist site. Trekking uphill on narrow lanes that spirals along the edge of a hill (sometimes steep & sometimes with muddy steps) was an unforgettable experience which had put our fitness to an ultimate test (atleast for us !). As we gained height, the weather to changed. In the beginning phase of the trek, it was cloudy but there was no threat of rain. After few metres uphill, slight drizzle started which changed to increased rain later on. Finally, there was hailstorm when we were sufficiently at a higher altitude. The Tiger's Nest was clearly visible from a point from where the last phase of the trek starts. Always surrounded by clouds and mist, it was difficult for us to have a clear shot from our camera, but finally we managed to have some descent to good snaps of the monastery. We were hell tired. Our both the legs had become almost numb. Then, we felt it is better to call off the plan to trek upto the monastery and instead have some snacks at the refreshment counter at the point from where the true adventurers & the pilgrims start their final leg of trek. We too had an oppurtunity of meeting a Thai person, a pilgrim in fact, who treks uphill to the monastery every year. While chatting with him, we came to know about Bhutan- the culture, heritage, Buddhism etc. and a lots more. But it is not that we were only on the receiving side. We gave a brief description of our road trip from India till Thimphu, which baffled him because he had never any land route to reach Bhutan. After spending some more time with the Thai pilgrim, we had some snaps around that place including our guide too, to cherish those memorable moments which even now also fills us with thrill and excitement. Then, we started our trek down the hill. While returning , we did not forget to buy some beautiful artifacts and sovneirs from the local village sellers. Physically exhausted but not devoid of excitement to explore more, we moved on to our next spot -Kyichu Lhakhang, the oldest Buddhist temple in Bhutan, originally built in 7th Century AD by by the Tibetan Emperor Songtsän Gampo. With the Sun Set, the very thought of our wonderful trip at the verge of end made us bit sad. But it was time for the last attraction of the trip - the local Night Club in Paro, where my friends tried their hands at karaoke before having the last Bhutanese Dinner at Lobesa.
The next morning welcomed us with some of the most beautiful sceneries. The endless mountain ranges quite far off, having their peaks covered with snow which glittered with the first rays of sun. It was truly amazing for us, for we has never seen such beauty of Mother Nature.
The next day, we set off on our return journey to Thimphu. En-route, we came across a iron chain bridge on the Amochhu river, which is considered to be one of the oldest in the country and some breathtaking sceneries too. In lunch, we decided to try some Bhutanese cuisines - the Ema datshi (national dish of Bhutan made out of cheese & chillies), Kewa datshi (cheese and potatoes) and not the least, Shamu datshi (cheese and mushrooms) along with some soupy noodles. The taste buds did experience something different & interesting, and some of them even went in flames which had to relieved by few glasses of water. After lunch, we had some "good bye" snaps with our driver and the guide who as a goodwill gesture, dropped us at the local bus stand and stood there till the bus started off to Phuntshoiling. We had our trains booked from New Jalpaiguri Railway Station for the return journey to Bhubaneswar, India.