Bumthang to Thimpu

Sunday – Woke up early, did some writing and photo downloading, then on to breakfast at the hotel. After leaving we were driven to the “Burning Lake” not far out of town in the countryside. The “lake” was actually part of a mountain stream reached after a short walk. The area was draped with prayer flags; we crossed a short wooden bridge and scrambled down slippery rocks to release oil candles into the stream one by one. Auspiciously, some floated, some capsized. Such is the nature of life.

Nearby was a chanting forest hermit. After greeting him, we rolled dice and made our wishes. Of course I wished for Matthew Human’s great success in country music! The result of the toss was indeed also auspicious.

When we arrived at the airport, also waiting to board the plane were the parents of Khyentse Yangzte. Winna and Kutira made an appointment so we could visit their son after lunch. The father and another monk received a royal sendoff from accompanying monks and officials. Our group sat in the back of the plane while they sat in the front. Once we landed we stayed in our seats until they disembarked, a mix of the traditional and the modern for sure.

For lunch we stopped by the culinary school, the Bongde Institute of Hospitality and Tourism. Two instructors, Auke Thijssen from France and Adrien Rebord from Switzerland, work with local students here for an NGO, teaching hospitality skills. Bhutan’s high end tourism concentrates on five star hotels.  Thus there’s a need for staff to be well trained in giving a high level of service. It was a great meal, and really a worthwhile project.

Next we continued to our quickly planned visit with Khyentse Yangzte at his comfortable home and monastery. We all felt honored that he agreed to meet us. He is considered a reincarnation of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche (recalling this teacher from our earlier visit to the temple in Bumthang). Khyentse had a peaceful air about him, and spoke to us articulately about authenticity and the need to know oneself.

On our way, we picked up the last member of our group, Darrin, who arrived late at the airport. Then it was time to drive onward to the hotel at Thimpu. By that time it was night which was not the most optimal time to make the drive on the two lane winding road, our bus being passed a bit dangerously by many small cars. Pema, our driver was great, so we made it safely. After checking in, we had dinner and gave introductions all around for the complete group – we are very interesting people!