5:00 am in Punakha, Bhutan. Trip so far is wonderful.
Spent a day in Delhi, then a 5 am flight to Paro, Bhutan, views of Everest and all the other peaks lit up at sunrise. And now Bhutan for a couple of weeks. We are part of a small group, 6 other paying customers, 3 guides and a support crew of about 8. Wildlife tour, focus on birds, also a lot more cultural stuff than I expected which has been great. One of the guides is a local, seems to know absolutely everything, speaks English well, puts up with all our questions. Another is Indian, bird/wildlife expert, also wonderful. Trip leader is a younger fellow, dutch, living in Kazakhstan, could be better.
We are usually off before dawn, with breakfast in the field a couple of hours later, ditto for lunch. So far we've been staying in non-chain local hotels run by Bhutanese families. Not fancy but first-rate. Will be camping for several nights, first is tonight, will be at about 10,500'. Will see how that goes. :-)
Been lots of altitude changes, lowest about 4,000', highest 13,000'. Really felt the latter anytime I headed up evening the slightest of hills. Vegetation and wildlife a very altitude dependent, so you get to see a lot of variety in a short time.
So far so good. Internet access is sketchy, but sufficient. Nice not to have it most of the time in all honesty.
Time to hit the road.... ;-)
Paro airport. Houses/buildings are just uniformly gorgeous.
It's a Buddhist country. Prayer wheels large and small abound. You always spin them clockwise, just as you always walk around any religious building clockwise.
Archery is the national sport. Standard distance is 140 meters. Watched a match between two teams for a bit, would have gladly stayed longer.
Lunchtime. We have a bus for us and the guides, a truck for the bags and all the gear, and a bus for the crew. Prayer flags abound.
Chele La (La means pass).