Last night, we walked about 10 minutes from the lodge and settled down to a log fire in the middle of the neighbor’s farm land. We were served a drink of locally brewed rice alcohol and were led into a stone building. The wooden tub had been filled and the back of it was separated with a wooden divider, from which the hot water flowed in. Stones were heated on a fire and placed in the back area. As each stone was added, the water temperature would rise. In the water was a local herb which not only added fragrance, but felt healing and soothing. The bamboo doors were opened and we had an incredible view of the valley. What an incredible experience but after an hour, we had to get out and head off down the hill to the lodge and a great dinner.
WOW, was today special! After breakfast, we drove to the monastery of Gangtey. Here, Tricia and Rick had arranged for a very special blessing ceremony by the monks for all of us. We were led into one of the prayer rooms in the monastery and saw the ceremony had already started (it started at 8am – we arrived at 9am). The ceremony was an all-day event – these monks were praying for a long life for all of us and all who we would come in contact with. Sitting there watching as the head monk, Khenpho (who will become a Lama shortly) read the special prayers with the assistance of 6 other monks, was something I just cannot describe. I had the overwhelming feeling of my spirit awakening; I was truly at peace and am starting to understand what this journey in Bhutan is all about and why I came. Linda had wanted to come here for so long, but we never made the time.
We left the ceremony with the intentions to come back later in the afternoon for the tail end of the blessing. We left the monastery and walked down the hill to the valley. What a great peaceful walk it was. Crossing over small streams, we then came across the revered Black Neck Swans which had just returned from their summer migration in Tibet. We lunched at the lodge and then headed back to the monastery.
We arrived at 2.30pm and sat and listened to the last hour. We were fortunate to then be able to talk with the Khenpho. As with all the other monks we had met, he had a similar message which was that we have to learn to be mindful of everyone else; we have to think of others before ourselves and share what we have with others less fortunate. Then we will understand why we have been lucky to be in this plane we currently live within, this time around.
As we were leaving, our guide Sonam recognized one of the young monks playing in the courtyard as a friend of his son. But this is a very special young monk – he is the reincarnate of the Rimpoche who heads all the monks in Bhutan, and he will, in time take that role. We spoke with him and he told us he was identified as the reincarnate at age 3 and had been in the monastery since then, being taught by the Khenpho’s about his special role in the world as he grows up. You could tell he was a special person. He had a soothing smile, gentle hand and soft calming voice. He was able to give a warm embrace without even making contact with me and he gave me a blessing – I felt so moved and privileged to be in his presence.
Tonight, we are having dinner in the Potato Shed (on the same farmers land as last night). Potatoes are grown everywhere here, and I am very happy as I love fries!
Linda and I walk up the hill again to the small potato shed (which was close to the Hot Stone bath shed). Here, we were greeted by the Amankora team with a large bonfire and drinks. We sat outside as the flames grew and then went inside and found a beautifully candle lit room, with walls of potatoes and rocks (just as it has been for centuries) and a table for two!
A fireplace inside was used to steam the Bhutanese bread and pork dumplings. This experience really showed us how the Bhutanese live and take advantage of what they have up here, which we would feel very little, but they are so content and feel they have everything they need. We can learn so much from them.
The remainder of the dinner was beautiful and delicious, and we had lots of time to reflect the day’s wonderful activities. The team here is so friendly. We spoke at length with them during dinner and they were as eager to tell us of their lives as we were to find out.
It just keeps getting more interesting each minute.