Things to see in Thimphu, Part 2

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Tashichho Dzong

This huge building has been the seat of Bhutan's government since 1952 and presently houses the throne room and offices of the king, the secretariat and the ministries of home affairs and finance. Visiting this important place was the reason we had purchased our shirts.

Tashichho Dzong where some of us saw the three relics Tashichho Dzong

When Dorje drove towards the place we could see it was extremely busy. This was a day of celebration and people were out and about in their thousands. Poor Dorje had trouble finding somewhere to park the car.

We clambered out of the vehicle and quickly headed where everyone else was going. We had to pass through a security section before entering the grounds.  It was quite hot and we tried our best to stand in the shade of the Dzong or the trees. Everyone was milling around and a queue had started to form. I wondered why we hadn’t joined the queue. What on earth were we going to see in this place and how were we going to see it with so many thousands of other people up front of us.


The mad race begins

Suddenly our guide told us we needed to make a move and fast!  We shot off inside the walled area with our guide telling us to “Hurry, hurry, hurry!” There was a large quadrangle and we were tearing across it at a great rate of knots. Then we had to clamber up huge steps in an effort to beat all the other people to the top. There was an awful scramble of people with a heck of a lot of pushing and shoving going on.

I didn’t like this one little bit. At the top of the steps we had to line up and keep moving forward. We didn’t need to propel ourselves as we were getting pushed by the mob from behind. There were lots of children and babies. One lady was told to move off and evidently didn’t move fast enough so a guard pulled her away by her hair. She had a baby attached to her too. It was most uncomfortable as we continued to shuffle forward towards who knows what.

I was at the front of the four of us and blindly continued on in a forward direction. Suddenly the throng started to disperse and the men caught up with me. “Did you see it? Did you see it?” they all asked me.  “See what?” said I. “The three relics!” they all said in unison. I wondered what on earth they were talking about. Apparently that was what we and fifty thousand others had come to see. That was what all the push and shove was about. Well I’d missed the whole thing. I think I was too busy watching where I was going and making sure I wasn’t trampling anybody down to be looking at such items as relics.

When I asked what I had missed, Ian and Jeremy said it was a bit like three snow globes. They didn’t think I’d missed much. Obviously if you were a Buddhist it meant an awful lot. It turns out the three “snow globes” contained little pieces of bone belonging to Buddha and his two chief disciples. The relics were on tour in Thimphu just by chance on the day we were there. The display was then heading off to Punakha. I felt a bit of an idiot for not seeing the relics. I must have had my ears turned off before we even went into the dzong because I thought we were just checking out the dzong as you would any other dzong. Ian and Jeremy seemed to be fully aware of what we were doing there. There was so much push and shove whilst there than our cameras never even came out of our pockets.


Jungshi Handmade Paper Factory

Mulberry fibrous wood soaking to make paper The fibrous wood soaking in wooden vats

We really enjoyed checking out this little factory. Rather than recite my account of what we saw you can read this The Jungshi Paper Factory.  This person’s description is spot on. I’ll just add some photos to give you the visual side of things too. The paper we saw was so rich in colour. Everything was wet and sloppy in there so you had to watch where you walked.

Hand-made paper from Bhutan The end results




The workers didn’t seem to mind us mooching around in there at all. The paper is made from Daphne or Mulberry wood. Afterwards we went into the little paper shop. We were very tempted to buy their spectacular products but then we thought we might not be allowed to bring such things back into Australia for fear of insects being in it.


Simtokha Dzong

Simtokha Dzong in Thimphu Simtokha Dzong

The last attraction for the day was Simtokha Dzong.

It was built in 1629 and is the oldest that has survived as a complete structure. It is in a very strategic position and overlooks the whole Thimphu valley.  It is the home of the Institute for Language and Culture Studies, the students being both monks and lay people. Interesting history and information about the dzong is available here Windhorse Tours.. There are beautiful frescos and slate carvings in Simtokha. Whilst at the dzong we saw Dorje talking to a young fellow. It turns out this young man is a monk and he is Dorje's son.



Jeremy dressed up as a Bhutanese man Jeremy and Kinga wearing their Ghos

Back to the Phuntsho Pelri Hotel

Back at the hotel Ian and I were glad to make a cuppa and rest for a while.  Jeremy had other ideas.  He really like the Gho outfit that men wear here. He wanted to buy one and wear it whilst in Bhutan. Kinga said he would go with Jeremy to buy one.  They were gone for quite a while but arrived back with Jeremy wearing the Gho plus his other clothes underneath. He was very satisfied but boiling hot underneath all his gear. As well as the Gho he bought a traditional white top to go underneath it and a pair of sheer black knee high socks to finish it off. From what Jeremy and Kinga told us there was a lot of hilarity in the shop when Jeremy was buying the Gho. The staff thought it was intriguing that a yellow haired (not blonde) person should ever wear a Gho. For a first timer the Gho is very complicated to put on but Kinga showed him how to do it again when he got back to the hotel.


Ian standing by some healthy fruit and vegetables Ian at the night markets


Dinner at the hotel

For dinner we were served a vegetable soup that was almost white in colour. From the buffet we served ourselves rice, noodles, a pork dish, tomatoes, bony fish as was served last night plus cubes of fried potato, asparagus and a spinach soup which I tried but found quite fatty. Dessert was a cube of sponge cake with icing on the top. We found a couple from Edinburgh in Scotland to chat to whilst we ate our dinner. Ian and I decided to have an evening stroll around the streets and we were surprised how busy the shopping area becomes when stall holders produce their wares and sell them, market fashion, on the pavements. Shoes seemed to be popular market items.


Next page - Up early for a visit to Dochula Pass




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