Phunaka valley – hiking along a path our guide did not yet know

I open an eye. Twilight outside. Dawn is slowly giving changing the pitch black outside into a grayish. Getting lighter by the minute.

It’s early morning. My eyes are still adjusting after waking up. But the sounds outside reveal, we are at the country side. Forest close by.

I slept very well on the mattress on the floor in a farmhouse in the Phunaka valley. There is already some activity outside. Time to get up…

Breakfast on the “terrace”

Our guide Tenzin is already helping our host to setup the breakfast tables outside. A bit improvised, but what a view over the valley. Clouds slowly lifted while the sun is coming up.

Quite a contrast to the much more luxurious hotels we had so far during out journey in Bhutan. Sure, this is not the “normal” farm house, since they rent out one room. But I feel a bit closer to everyday life here after the night.

Adding to this feeling is also last nights experience. We spent quite some time together with the women of our host family. Mainly in the kitchen. Me watching. Iris joining the cooking. And a joint dinner in the main house.

Exploring a “new” hiking trail

We could have stayed forever sitting on the terrace this morning, warming up by the rising sun over the valley. Simply taking up the sound of nature and some very manual farming activity around.

But time as a visitor is precious in Bhutan. Its much limited and there is so much more to explore.

Today we go for a physical workout. Hiking up a narrow path to a temple, high above the valley. And there we stand once again, admiring the beauty of this small country in the Himalaya. Now it feels a bit like being in Switzerland, just somebody replaced chapels with stupas.

A question from Tenzin brings our thoughts back. “Do you want to take the same way back? Or are you up for something more adventurous? I heard there is another path down along the river, that I have not walked yet.”

Now we are really surrounded by vegetation. “Of course Tenzin seems nevertheless to know the way, but tourists have most likely not yet walked here”, I think descending the steep way. Down to the river. Birds and butterflies around.

Bridges are the life-lines here for humans and animals alike. And also our way back to meet our driver Tashi again.

Steep steps up to the Dzong

What would a day in Bhutan be without a Dzong? Difficult. Luckily Phunaka has one as well. It already looks huge from the distance. But even more so now climbing the steep stairs up to the entrance. And into the wide courtyard with its massive religious and administrative buildings.

We expect our next and unfortunately already last Dzong to visit even more impressive and are now on our way to the Tigers Nest.

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