Taktshang / Tiger's Nest, Bhutan
Farmhouse dinner, Bhutan
We were already very much looking forward to the famous Tiger’s Nest monastery – a highlight of the trip through the country for many visitors.
What is so special about Taktshang – that’s how the locals call this place? Well, first of all, it is a very picturesque place. A monastery nested on a super steep rock face in the Himalayan mountains. But why do humans build a monastery exactly there – at one of the most difficult places to build a structure? Sure, the view is extraordinary, but there are maybe other places with a nice view but easier access?
Continue reading Taktshang – The Tiger’s Nest monastery
I love food and wherever we travel you can find me in the kitchen. Kitchens are social places, there is always an opportunity to support the cook, learn something new and chat with the people, even if this is only with hand and feet.
Let’s take a break form the cultural experiences and get to the culinary side of Bhutan, before we continue staying in a local farmhouse in the Phunaka valley.
Since we travel Bhutan with a guide, which is not our usual travel style, we had to trust on Tenzins’ recommendations. We told him that we want local food and love spicy. We ended up in a restaurant with 100% foreigners as guests and he disappeared when food was served. Food was tasteless and besides the rice, I think there was nothing local. When he reappeared, we asked where he was eating. “Another place where they have food for locals” he said. “That’s the kind of place we want to go tomorrow, don’t get us in a tourist place again please!” we asked him for. “But it is spicy!” he replied to get reminded “We love spicy very much!”.
Eating Bhutanese food is a spicy affair
Long story short: We got tested with some snacks (deep fried chili, some other things I am not sure what it was) and from there on, we did not enter any tourist restaurant (with the exception of the one at tiger’s nest, but we were too hungry and this was the only place. And Tenzin organized some chili paste from the kitchen, so we could manage). Instead of typical restaurants, we tried to eat at farmhouses as often as possible, which is the best you can do…
Continue reading Bhutan – Culinary experience
I saw excitement, sparkling eyes and at the same time a reverent expression in the face of our guide Tenzin, when he spoke to a local monk in a monastery at the entry of the Trongsa Valley. It was joy, but not just joy. Maybe a little similar to a small boy waiting at Christmas Eve to be allowed to see the tree with all the candles and the strong believe that Santa is about to bring some presents…
The big excitement: the blessing
So what was this all about? “A blessing is being held at the Dzong tomorrow.” was the explanation. “Is this blessing something special to the people?” I wanted to know. “Yes, very special! The monk is very famous. There will be a lot of people. It will be difficult to park the car.” Difficulties to park the car seems to be a global topic, even in a remote valley in Bhutan. “No problem at all to walk. Will it still be possible to visit the Dzong then?”. Since the Bhutanese people are very open to visitors, it did not seem to be any problem at all. So we were curious.
The next morning, the atmosphere was somehow busy but at the same time very calm and patient.
Continue reading Trongsa – travelling back in time into a valley going crazy
Arrival in Bhutan
A buzzing atmosphere full of colors, smiling people, excitement to meet others, almost endless dances and music full of mystical aspects.
We were lucky to be in town while the Thimphu festival – one of the biggest in Bhutan – was on. Apparently the Tshechu is like Christmas, Easter and a city festival together for the Bhutanese living in the Thimphu valley. Months in advance people plan what they are going to wear. New clothes are being made. On the day itself, kids are often sent in the very early morning to reserve a place for the family, because literally EVERYBODY will go there, watch, meet and enjoy.
Continue reading Bhutanese festivals – THE yearly event for everyone in the valley
Easter Island, Chile
Bhutan – the country, not the gas *smiley smiling* . But where exactly is it? And wasn’t it a country which does not let travelers in, or only a limited number? How can you communicate there – the national language is Dzongkha. Only 237 000 people (less than the population of Bonn) speak it and there are at least 18 other languages used in Bhutan. Will it be like traveling in China 20 years ago when speaking with hands and feet really became real for me. Or maybe completely different?
Well, join us on our adventure through the little kingdom in the Himalaya and you will find out on all the questions above and be amazed as we were how different this world is over there…
Continue reading Bhutan – First Glimpse and the reason why we decided to go
Time to say goodbye to the South American Continent…
After almost 6 flight hours (Boing 767, no small what so ever bird…*smiley winking* there was:
One thing to clarify, as we Germans tend to speak about “die Osterinseln” and some English speaking people “the Easter Islands”: It’s only one island – and some two or three very tiny islets – so singular it should be!
Continue reading Rapa Nui by scooter
After our not so successful detour on taking a train ride through the Andes another bus equipped with some nice accessories brought us to our next destination. By the way, moving household here in Ecuador is also done a little different than in Europe. Can’t imagine? Well, when have you last time moved by bus? *smiley winking*
Nearly a month already passed since we started our round-the-world tour, with so many new impressions and positive daily challenges. We think this is a good time to refill energy levels and “invest” into our future. So what might be better than to relax a few days in the Valley of Longevity?
A no-brainer for us, so we arrived in Vilcabamba, had our first beer and made new friends.
And yes, we booked a wellness temple! The first day was – of course – at the pool!
Continue reading Vilcabamba – chilling out in the Valley of Longevity
On the way to Banos, we passed the small town of Pelileo. Sorry this will be an “insider” as opener: There is no tourist sites here. Nothing like that, but then what’s special about it? @IC community of our readers: Pelileo is the home town of Victoria *smiley winking*
Banos itself is a very touristy city, both for Ecuadorian tourists and gringos. We took the first day easy to organize some things, e.g. doing our laundry and drink some fresh lemonade and juice…
In Banos, you can find everything. Pimped cars, good restaurants, and not so well maintained bridges… We were not sure if we should take it, but there were horse drops around. Horses are heavier than we are, so…to keep it short, we made it and the bridge didn’t break!
Continue reading Banos – backpacker hangout with some treats
We made it up to the glacier at Cotopaxis northern side. Yes, indeed at the northern side. As we are in the southern hemisphere this is the easier one. The snow and ice only starts at about 5000 meters altitude. For making it up all the way to the top we would have needed much more solid climbing gear.
Just back from the sea-level after visiting Galapagos we didn’t even think about it. The air is noticeable thinner at above 3000 meters and you need some time to acclimatize. Additionally the day we ascended it was very windy, making it a cold and gray scenery, except…
But let’s take a step at a time.
The bus from Quito to Latacunga dropped us at the right junction in the middle of nowhere. Luckily Thorsten managed to spot two park rangers on their way home and they agreed to give us a lift to our remote accommodation. In exchange for what is worth about two beers they drove us about 2 kilometers on a very bad gravel road.
At our nice lodge for exploring the Cotopaxi region, we immediately found some new friends.
For the first day we explored the surroundings by mountain bike. Most roads unpaved gravel, many paths with potholes, a constant up and down, some ways literally leading into nowhere…
Continue reading Hiking Cotopaxi up to 5000 meters altitude
We got used to the altitude in the Andes. For the first days, you feel much older up here at 4000+ meters.
Despite our lack of Spanish, we organized a luxury low-budget trip to Galapagos. A long-term dream of us about to come true.
Still pumped with energy to explore. No vacation time to waste. Only much later we will realize the value of just living into the day. From time to time floating around, letting things happen.
But for now: How to fill the 2 day gap until Galapagos?
I saw some interesting pictures by fellow travelers. As food-lover I am anxious. Now I need to convince Thorsten to explore one of the biggest farmers markets in the region…
Continue reading Otavalo – Early Birds on the Indian Market