After three weeks, three countries, 40 miles of trekking through the Himalayas, and being on the go sunup to sundown, I decided some self care was in order so I stayed at the hotel to rest today while the group went on their excursion. Our lodging, Hotel Pema Karpo in Wangdue, was a lovely respite to replenish myself. The staff know every guest and their needs (ie food sensitivities, timing of our excursions, when we need meals ready, etc).

Hotel Pema Karpo as seen from the river

While opting to miss a day of adventure was a hard decision given that we were here just five days, it was absolutely the right move for me. After much needed sleep I felt like a new woman and headed across the street to meditate at river. Someone had the brilliant idea to put some benches at the riverside and the locals had been using them all morning. I can understand why: it’s a beautiful and magical place. The river sparkles and appears to be going in three directions at once. To call it a meditative experience is an understatement.

How I feel after meditating by this magical river
Watch the water. It appears to be going in three directions

On my way back to the hotel, a small group of girls were walking home from school and asked for a selfie with me. We chatted briefly about their school day, my life at home, they marveled at my four-generation photo of my family before they continued on their way. I admired their level of trust in a stranger and the maturity of their insightful questions. These are some of my favorite moments of travel.

My retreat companions returned from their excursion of hiking in this glacial valley called Gangtey and showed the spoils of shopping from the locals there: hand woven fabrics, yak wool shawls and blankets, cashmere scarves and sweaters, Buddhist symbols, and more. The area is also known for its rare black-necked cranes and its monastery from the 17th century. They talked with an 80+ year old shepherd herding his horses as if he was a spry younger man. We decided to secret to staying agile and young is to stay active!

Bhutanese shepherd herding horses wearing traditional dress

For evening spiritual work, David offered an excellent meditation using concepts from his book (“The 7 Energies of the Soul”, available on Amazon and Audible) and specifically helping us learn to identify when we are deflating or inflating when faced with challenging situations. Deflating means we make ourselves smaller, perhaps give way to others, deflect, pretend not to know, or otherwise don’t stand in our power. Inflating implies we portray ourselves as larger, smarter, the stronger leader, more fierce rival, etc when challenged or confronted. We were asked to reflect which we tend to default to. He is a wonderful teacher! Check him out on his Meditation School app, Facebook, his various podcasts, etc.

Interesting facts about Bhutan:

✅ All US citizens must have a visa to travel to Bhutan, and the visa is required in order to purchase a plane ticket to this destination. However, the only way to obtain this visa is through a licensed tour operator in Bhutan. If you don’t like flying, you may also take an eight-hour bus ride from Kathmandu, which likely has amazing views too in the daylight. But I don’t think anything can top seeing the Himalayas and Mount Everest from 30,000 feet on a clear day.

✅ Rubber trees grow so well here that there are entire farms growing them (Asia is the world’s leading producer of natural rubber at more than three million tons per year!)

✅ What was not lost on us was the juxtaposition of selling, showcasing, and worshipping phalluses everywhere while requiring women to cover their shoulders, arms, and legs

✅ Beter nut is the seed of the Areca palm fruit and is widely chewed among Bhutanese. Every day you will see people chewing. Despite staining teeth red, locals consider it protective to teeth and gums; a mild stimulant; and feel a sense of euphoria, well-being and stamina. Before you run to Amazon and place your order, do your research because the inter webs offer conflicting results and potential health risks.

✅ Bhutanese call themselves Drukpa, the main ethnic group within Bhutan. Druk means thunder dragon. Even the airline showcases the Druk.

✅ If you want your coffee or tea with milk you must request “milk tea” or “milk coffee”. If you ask for milk or cream on the side or “coffee with milk” they will not know what you mean.

And if you want more fun facts, click here.

That’s all for now. I’m so grateful you’re enjoying this journey with me! Thanks for spending your precious time here.

Love, Wen

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