Living in Western Australia, the largest and most remote state of Australia I have an unique concept of distance. I have no issues driving 6 hrs over 600km from Perth to Kalgoorlie for the weekend to see friends, or driving 200kms return trip just to pick up the newspaper at work. So when the entire length of Bhutan at its longest point is a modest 306km you would think it would be a country you could see in a matter of hours. How wrong you would be, todays drive from Punakha to Paro a short 143km drive will take you over 4hrs, due to the astronomical 10-12 bends per kilometre. The roads are well built how ever they are so windy and are dotted with road works and the road blocks slow you down even more. We could only really manage a brisk walking pace of 20-30km per hour. Just to make this road even crazier it rises to a whopping 3800m at the Dochala Pass.
Once we arrived in Paro we made a quick stop at the mechanics, apparently the brake fluid was leaking, I am pretty happy that I was not aware of that at 3800m. It was interesting seeing inside a workshop in Bhutan. I have spent years hanging around workshops, so for me even this little side trip was an unusual high light. It turns out workshops in Bhutan are pretty similar to what you would see in Australia. They were clean, had similar tools and car parts hanging all over the place, the usual oil sign posted up on the wall even the vehicles were similar. Bhutan’s cars are pretty much what you see in Australia, except for the odd Indian import, Land cruisers and any type of Toyota were very popular. We had some extra time to explore Paro whilst we were getting our new vehicle, so a quick souvenir shopping spree was had. I said goodbye to Telo my driver and hello to our new driver and brand new Toyota Hiace.
After lunch we visited the National Museum of Bhutan at the old Paro Watch Tower, well it was in the new building built behind the Watch Tower, but up until the huge earthquake in 2011 the museum was inside the old watch tower. The old building was a beautiful traditional structure standing tall and keeping a watchful eye over the Paro Fortress. You could see the physical signs of the earthquake, the large cracks running the height of the building. I hope they can repair the damage and restore this beautiful building to its former glory.
I loved exploring the Paro Fortress, watching the local monks spinning prayer wheels, gazing at all the beautifully intricate artwork plastered all over the old walls, I always get a feeling of peace when I enter these spiritual places. From the bottom of the hill you can see all three of the structures all built in 1646, at the top is the Watch Tower, below that the Paro Fortress and crossing the river the old bridge. Then some bright spark put a power line right across river and ruined what would be a magic photo. You got to watch out for those electricians…
Thank you for stopping by Tattered Passport, If you have liked this post don’t forget to hit the LIKE button and share with your family and friends. You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and simple by clicking the “Follow” button at the bottom of your screen.
One Life, One Search,