So, for those of you who don’t know what Tiger’s nest is, let me enlighten you briefly. So Tiger’s Nest or locally called Paro Taktsang (Dzongkha: སྤ་གྲོ་སྟག་ཚང་, also known as the Taktsang Palphug Monastery), is a prominent Himalayan Buddhist sacred site and the temple complex is located in the cliffside of the upper Paro valley in Bhutan. The monastery is located 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) to the north of Paro and hangs on a precarious cliff at 3,120 metres (10,240 ft), about 900 metres (3,000 ft) above the Paro valley, on the right side of the Paro Chu (‘chu’ Bhutanese means ”river or water”).
For people who want to read more about this place can check it out here.
At the moment I am writing this article [10:50 AM, March 16, 2020], the coronavirus cases count is 169,610 with a total of 6518 deaths. The cases have been growing each day exponentially. Most of the countries like mine (India) are going on complete shutdown and international tourists are not-permitted through at the Airports. One such country similar to mine is Bhutan, a country that shares a border with India and China. I visited Bhutan as a tourist last week [March 5th — March 10th]. On 5th March, when I boarded the flight to Bhutan and reached there, everything was alright and Covid-19 wasn’t a pressing concern for Bhutan as there were 0 cases. On 6th Morning, we were in Thimpu valley, the capital of Bhutan and then came the news as a thud. A new case of 76-year-old American tourist suffering from Covid-19 infection was found in Punakha district of Bhutan. We got frightened obviously and likewise, the locals of Bhutan were scared too. Everyone bought masks and then we started to think about what must be done. We accepted all the precautionary measures and went to the Thimpu International Permit centre. Unfortunately, we didn’t get any permits for visiting other districts of Bhutan and we resorted to going to Paro city as we still had a permit for it. Fortunately, the condition wasn’t as bad as we were expecting it to be and the access to the Tiger’s Nest was still open for tourist access. We stayed the night in Paro and the next morning at 7 AM (Temperature 0 degree celsius), we went to the Tiger’s Nest base camp, got the student tickets (Almost half the original price of 1000 BTN).
Don’t get too cocky!
We began the hike at around 7:30 AM. As we progressed further, the destination seemed very close and the hike seemed easy to moderate. We thought we would complete it before we know it. But as cocky as we may have been at that moment, it dawned upon us after a few minutes of early climbing that its not that easy man. On the left is the picture of the final trek destination, taken just at the beginning of the trek itself. In the early morning, at first, since the climb wasn’t steep, we proceeded at a fast pace but later things got super hard and we had to improvise according to that.
Don’t let disappointments dent your Ikigai (Reason for being)
As we progressed further, on our way we encountered several cute and furry dogs on our way. This one in the picture below specifically caught our attention as he didn’t have one of its rear legs and he still was following us with full enthusiasm and energy. This, in turn, provided us with motivation to move forward and we were more excited to see the zenith than ever. After the disappointments of not being able to witness the beauty of the remaining parts of Bhutan, this was the first time that we felt the wave of joy passing through us. We all started to call this beautiful three-legged baby ‘Tomchi’ , which I still don’t remember why! But we offered a few cookies to Tomchi and he kept following us until we had no more cookies left in our bags. This is when we reached the 30–35% completion mark of our trek. Until this point, things were easy and we were not tired at all. We were gaining warmth and it kind of felt great because the temperature was very much close to 0 degrees and was getting colder with the rising altitude.
Move Slow and Steady boys.
After taking some rest and getting hydrated, we walked further and this is when things started becoming a little harder and the slopes became steeper and worn out as there were no stair-like markings and just dusty and tiny dry-mud platforms. We were starting to become tired so we started taking a bite of a nutrition bar every five minutes just to stay energized and to make sure we have enough glucose levels. Regardless of this, we were getting tired and after almost every ten to fifteen minutes we were taking break and stood still at one point. During these breaks, we noticed that the fellow trekkers whom we crossed, overtook and left behind, traced our progress while we were standing still. Then we realized that we were walking way too rapidly and we decided to maintain a constant steady pace from then onwards. And yes, that worked. We were not stopping now and moving continuously.
Don’t feel bad for the consequences which resulted from actions not under your control
After a few minutes of constant trekking (sometimes walking and sometimes climbing), we reached the 40% viewpoint and the destination still seemed so far. It almost looked similar to beginning 3% completion stage. We naturally were a little worried by this and thought “Whoa Man! How high and far is it?” We were moving for the longest amount of time and still attained so little. We shoved some snacks up our mouth and then started moving after clicking a couple of pictures. We cut our mid-conversations and just moved forward. I personally felt very calm during this time and it gave me the time to think about how the trip turned out after all. If we wouldn't have been able to climb this beautiful thing, then it would have been totally futile coming to Bhutan. Everything happens for the best and after all this thought process, I contemplated the depth of the entire journey so far and realized that one should never feel gloomy for the things that are out of his/her control. During all this deep thinking phase, I remembered a few moments from my past where I undermined my existence because of the matters which were indeed out of my control. I was just experiencing the unfair consequences of some unfortunate set of actions which weren’t under my reach at all.
Make sure you remember your wishes so that you can fulfil them
At 65% completion, we reached the Taktsang-Cafeteria. Since we were running low on luck, there was nobody in the cafeteria and we didn’t find anything to snack up. So, instead, we spent some moments resting around this giant praying wheel. I don’t know if this happens with you all too that whenever there is a moment when you need to wish for something, nothing at all crosses the mind. I couldn’t think of a single satisfactory miraculous wish I could ask for. Then I just rotated the wheel and asked for a lifetime of travel experiences. If there’s one thing that I prefer over any other materialistic stuff is my constant love for travel and related experiences. Then it occurred to me that what are basically wishes? It is we who are responsible to fulfil our own wishes. If you’re passionate about something the universe aligns to make that possible. But only if you’re really passionate about it and aren't afraid of seeking discomfort for it. Well, this last line is the motto of Yes Theory youtube channel and makes a 100% sense.
Don’t give up
Now was the hardest leg of the entire uphill trek. The last remaining 25% were full of perspiration, sweat and total hardship which built up the motivation to keep moving. This was extremely steep and even though most of the path was full of complete concrete stairs, it hurt the legs like hell. All the joints were in gruesome agony. And at this point, we could feel the tiny snowflakes hitting our face. Each collision of the snowflake on the face felt like a pinch from the needle’s end. The temperature here was -2 degrees and even though it was so cold, I was just wearing a single T-shirt because my body was so warm at that moment. That moment felt like a hundred emotions at the same time. But somehow that wave of motivation was always there. We saw a few trekkers go back from this moment but we were super pumped up about going all the way. We moved for 30 or 40 minutes more and there it was in all its beauty and grandeur, the majestic Paro-Taktsang Tiger’s Nest.
We spent half an hour meditating in the temple and then proceeded with the downhill trek.
On reaching a total of 100% completion, the exhilarating feeling was similar to Calvin Harris’ song called Feel so Close. Lyrics go like this -
I feel so close to you right now
It’s a force field
I wear my heart upon my sleeve, like a big deal
Your love pours down on me, surrounds me like a waterfall
And there’s no stopping us right now
I feel so close to you right now