We travel to Punakha

Previous page - Kujua Monastery and the beer factory


Off to Punakha

Ian and I set off for breakfast but Jeremy still wasn’t feeling like eating.

Ian having morning tea and stroking the cat Ian stroking the cat

Shortly after, it was time to head off to Punakha. We had to head all the way back up the same valley where we stayed at Hotel Chendebji.

It was just as well because Jeremy had accidentally left his Kera (the waistband of his Gho) at the hotel when we stayed there a couple of days ago. It was mid morning when we arrived back at the hotel so we had a lovely cuppa and biscuits to nibble on. A cat seemed to want to attach itself to Ian. To start with we weren’t much concerned but then we realized the right part of the cat’s face looked quite diseased. It then became difficult to shoo the cat away.


Lunch and ice cream again

We were quite pleased to know we would be stopping for lunch once again at the restaurant that overlooks Chimi Lhakhang Temple. It was quite warm in the restaurant but nonetheless we had a reasonable meal with an excellent view. We finished off with a bowl of ice cream. What more could you ask for on a warm day? When we walked back to the main road we could see there was a traffic jam. I think that because it is festival time there are more cars than usual on the roads.


Dangerous driving conditions in Bhutan We got used to dangerous hair pin bends in the road


Add trucks into the equation and they really jam up the works. This time the story seemed to be that there were two truck drivers causing most of the problem. Neither driver felt he should give way to the other. So they just stayed there holding everybody up. Eventually the jam cleared and we were on our way again. We came across lots of road works, landslides and even a group of monkeys frolicking around.


Hotel Zangto Pelri at Punakha

We arrived in Punakha mid afternoon. We went straight to Hotel Zangto Pelri to drop off our gear. The hotel is up quite high so there are nice views. The staff carried our luggage to our rooms for us. Tiny little girls insist on carrying such heavy baggage. My large blue suitcase is indeed heavy. It got extremely rough treatment whilst it was carried to our rooms. The young girl carted it down steps smacking it into everything as she went. I think she must have been trying to put some holes in the suitcase so things would fall out and make it lighter.  We would have preferred to carry it ourselves but this was not acceptable.

Our rooms are in a separate building to the main hotel and are a little dark but then that is caused by the dark wood panelling. Finding power points to re-charge everything is a bit of a problem but ultimately it will all be do-able.


Punakha Dzong

Back in the car and we are heading to Punakha Dzong. This dzong was built in 1637 – 1638 and is the second largest and second oldest in Bhutan. Instead of being high up on a hill this dzong has been built at the confluence of two rivers. I think having the river water around the dzong makes it even more photographic. You had to enter the dzong by walking over a little bridge.

Punakhas Dzong is built at the confluence of two rivers Punakha Dzong on the river
The dzong is reached by a bridge The bridge into the dzong










It is almost time for the Royal wedding and the dzong is being specially decked out for the occasion. It was totally spectacular to look at with coloured flags blowing in the breeze everywhere. It was hard not to get caught up in the wedding fever that is gripping the kingdom right now.

We had a mooch around and took heaps of photos. When we came out we had our photos taken next to a nomadic lady from Laya. Kinga bought some hard cubes of dried cheese threaded on string and offered us some. Let’s say it suited Bhutanese pallets better than Australian pallets.

The whole country is being decorated for the wedding The colourful decorations
Nomadic lady kindly allows us to photograph her The nomadic lady









We stopped off at some shops and bought hair gel for Jeremy and some Cadbury’s chocolate. We bought five little bars – one for each of us. Ian and Jeremy thought the chocolate tasted fine but to me it just wasn’t the same as the Cadbury’s chocolate we buy at home. It didn’t seem as rich or as sweet. Bhutanese people don’t seem to have a sweet tooth like us silly Westerners so perhaps the chocolate is a slightly different recipe to what is sold in Western countries. I think Jeremy and Ian thought it was my taste buds that had the problem and not the chocolate at all. On the packaging it says it was made in India! I didn’t ask Kinga and Dorje if they liked their chocolate. I fear they would have thought it was far too sweet.

This part of Punakha seems quite grubby and littered. It’s also quite dusty here. Punakha supposedly has a better climate than other places in winter so it is considered the winter capital of Bhutan. In fact it used to be the proper capital of the country until 1955 when the capital was moved to Thimphu.


Hotel Zangto Pelri

Back at the hotel we had a quiet wander around. We discovered a swimming pool and people were actually in it. There is a nice roomy lounge at the front of the hotel where there is wi-fi access. Ian stuck his head into the restaurant and said it looked very nice indeed.

Later on we had a great meal in what ended up being a very busy restaurant. We ate tofu, naan bread, pork goulash, fried fish, red rice and vegetables.


Bathroom at Hotel Zangto Pelri

Back in our rooms we tried out the showers. They were fabulous. Masses of hot water was appreciated by all three of us. We were able to open the shower window and have a view of the garden whilst we showered. The towels were quite rough though. As with virtually all Bhutanese bathrooms there were leaks. This time it was the sink leaking water onto the floor.  The rooms are a bit dark and dingy but we quite like it here.


Next page - Returning to Thimphu




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