Bhutan Sacred Retreat 

September 13-23, 2020

Bhutan 

Everything we experience is a vibrational match to how we feel. What better place can we learn than from those that have already created a successful model? As we travel to Bhutan, we will open the portals of energy within our consciousness to expand peace and love within our Being. Receiving the downloads of this beautiful country inspires authentic Mastery through peace. Elayne's worldwide grid-work awakens portals for a New level of tranquility, restoring our innate Knowing of Love for Self, all sentient Beings, and Mother Earth.  

Bhutan Customized Journey for Elayne Le Monde - Empower Wholeness 

 

 

Bhutan is one of the least visited countries and is the last of the small, hidden Buddhist kingdoms in the Himalayas to unlock the doors to its mysteries. It is a country where Gross National Happiness (GNH) is the official development policy. GNH is a holistic approach to development emphasizing the importance of spiritual well-being alongside economic prosperity. Steeped in legends and mysticism, the country has much in store that is reflected in its culture and people’s way of life. The Land of the Thunder Dragon, as its original name “Drukyul” implies, was never colonized and has maintained its sovereignty and independence throughout the centuries, repelling invasions from the strongholds of its fortified monasteries called "Dzongs." 

 

Bhutan's 38,394 square kilometers are almost entirely mountainous, with the land rising from approximately 180 meters (600 ft) above sea level in the south (sub-tropics) to the over 7,000 meters (21,000 ft) snow peaks in the north (alpine). The country has been recognized as one of the top ten global bio-diversity hot-spots. Bhutanese architecture is striking and houses are a sight to behold, along with the unconventional paintings that adorn the walls of the house. The most typical is the phallus expressed in various styles and in generous sizes. The belief being they keep away bad luck and bring sufficient fertility and prosperity to couples residing in the house. Travel with an open mind and enjoy the friendly happy people, ancient tradition & culture, and pristine environment that Bhutan has to offer. 

Program outline:  September  13- 23, 2020

Day 1: Arrive at Paro; transfer to Thimphu (1 hr drive) 

Day 2:  Explore the capital town

Day 3: To Punakha valley (3 hr drive) 

Day 4: Explore the valley

Day 5:  To the surreal Phobjikha valley (3 hr drive) 

Day 6: Explore the valley 

Day 7: To Wangduephodrang (3 hr drive) 

Day 8: To Paro (4 hr drive) 

Day 9: Hike to the Tiger’s Nest Monastery, Paro (5-6 hour leisurely hike round-trip)

Day 10:  Day in Paro

Day 11: To airport 

Day 01 – September 13th         Welcome  To Bhutan 

 

Depart early from Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok. You will be met by our representative and transferred to Thimphu, (one and half hour drive), the small capital town which has a population of around 120,000. 

 

Thimphu at 7,609 feet, is situated in a valley surrounded by terraced rice fields. The main street in Thimphu, Norzim Lam, is lined with shops. Explore the National Memorial Chorten, built in memory of the third King, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. 

Drive to Drubthop Lhakhang, the nunnery temple. Here we will learn a bit about the role of women in Bhudism. Learn more about the culture through visits to the Bhutanese Indigenous Hospital and Traditional Painting School. 

Tonight after dinner we will have an Orientation Meeting.

Overnight at Hotel. (All meals included)

Day 2 – September 14th          Understanding Gross National Happiness 


Morning     Meditation Session and Intention Setting with Elayne.

 

AM        There are several options for hikes in Thimphu depending on how you feel and the weather. They include a 900 ft. one to two hour climb to the Tango Goemba or an hour’s climb to Cheri Goemba, or a 5 Kilometer hike to the Phajoding Goemba at approximately 12,000 ft. or an easy & nice 1.5 -2 hr hike at Sangaygang overlooking the Thimphu valley. 

PM        After lunch we will  explore the tallest sitting Buddha statue in the world at Kueselphodrang and the traditional paper making factory. 

 

PM        Back at our hotel tonight we will enjoy an Invited speaker,  Norbu Wangchuk  to speak to us about the “Gross National Happiness” .  Bhutan is most famous for the (GNH) in the tourism literature because their national measure of growth and progress based on peace and happiness. It’s reflective of the Buddhist ethos of contentment. The Western influences are pushing their own Gross Domestic Product – the singular economic measure of progress for most nations – into the country via Indian lorries and massive infrastructure projects. Bhutan holds on to their GNH with environmental conservation, public harvest festivals, celebrations of the monarch’s birthdays, and a strong Buddhist culture.  From 2008-2017 Norbu worked for the GNH secretariat and has served at the Ministry of Labor and Human Resources. 

Overnight at Hotel. (All meals).

Day 03 – September 15th        Sacred Females and Divine Madmen

 

Morning     Meditation Session and Intention Setting with Elayne.

This morning after we check out we will meet with a gender specialist to learn about the historical and cultural role of women. Then we will drive to Punakha. The road climbs steeply through a scenic forest of pine and cedar trees, to Dochula pass (10,000 feet). The pass offers panoramic views of the Himalayan mountain ranges, on the descent to the fertile valley of Punakha (4,430 feet).

 

Before proceeding further to the town of Punakha, hike about 30 minutes to the Chimi Lhakhang (temple) on a small hilltop. The temple was dedicated to the great Yogi in the 14th century, known as Drukpa Kuenley, as well as the “Divine madman.” He dramatized Buddhist teachings using songs and outrageous sexual humor. Bold phallus symbols and paintings on the houses and temples are a result of his influence. They are believed to ward off evil spirits and the temple is supposed to bless women who seek fertility.

 

After lunch, continue to Punakha Dzong (fortress) situated between the two rivers, Pho Chu and Mochu (male and female river). The fortress is now used as the winter seat of Je Khenpo (the spiritual head of Bhutan). The Dzong served as the capital seat of the Kingdom for more than 300 years. The intricate Buddhist paintings inside the monastery are spectacular.

After time to rest and restore. 

 Overnight at hotel. (All meals)

Day 04 – September 16th     Understanding Buddhism and Exploring  Punakha

 

Morning     Meditation Session and Intention Setting with Elayne.

We start the day with a discussion of Buddhism in Bhutan today. Then we are off to enjoy the beauty of the Punakha Valley. 

Today we will have two hikes.  First we enjoy an easy hike to Khamsum Yueley Namgyel lhakhang/temple: We drive (20 minutes) upstream the mo-chu/female river from Punakha Dzong/fortress and take an invigorating hike through lush farmland to the temple located on the hilltop. The hike begins from the suspension bridge. A 40-minute gradual uphill hike lead us to the stupa. This magnificent stupa was built by Her Majesty the Queen Mother for the well being of the kingdom and the benefit of all sentient beings. Built over a period of several years, the Bhutanese craftsmen including carpenters, painters, and sculptors consulted Holy Scriptures rather than engineering manuals, to construct this 4-storey temple that presents a great view of the mochu valley below.

 

Sangchhen Dorji Lhuendrup Lhakhang/temple & Nunnery:  The nunnery is situated on a ridge amid pine trees and overlooking valleys of Punakha and Wangduephodrang. The nunnery complex houses a permanent higher learning and meditation centre for nuns where, apart from religious trainings, it provides life skill training such as tailoring, embroidery, statue making and thangka painting. The main temple houses a 14-foot main bronze statue of Avalokiteshvara (Chenrigzig chagtong chentong), one of the biggest in the country. Facing the main courtyard is also a goenkhang, housing the nation’s guardian deities. We will exchange here and learn about life in a monastery. 

Overnight at hotel. (All meals)

Day 05 – September  17         Punakha to Gangtey

 

Morning     Meditation Session and Intention Setting with Elayne.

Drive to Phobjikha Valley (3 hrds +/-). After crossing the Pele La pass, we will make a right  turn on another road that will lead us to the expansive and beautiful valley of Phobjikha. The valley serves as the winter home for the rare black-necked cranes that migrate from the plateau of Tibet when it gets extremely cold. 

Overnight at Hotel. (All meals)

Day 06 – September 18th           Explore Phobjikha Valley

 

Morning     Meditation Session and Intention Setting with Elayne.

A peaceful hike leads us through a local village on the way to the Gangtey Monastery. Continue downhill into the picturesque Phobjikha valley. We will continue our hike to the hotel where we will be served with our lunch. 

The remainder of the day is free to explore the village  his afternoon we will have time in this beautiful place for some kind of fun hands on activity.  Maybe a cooking class. 

Overnight at hotel. (All meals)

Day 07 – September 19th         Fall Solstice !    

 

Morning     Meditation Session and Intention Setting with Elayne.

Return to Wangdiphrodang (2.5 hr drive) Afternoon is free  for  our Solstice Ceremony.

 Overnight at Hotel. (All meals)

Day 08 – September 20         Wangdiphodrang to Paro

After 1.5 to 2 hour drive, weather permitting, hike from Dochu La mountain pass (10,000 feet) to the quaint Lungchuzekha Goemba (12,000 +/- feet). It will be a good 5 hr hike round-trip. 

 

At Paro, we will explore the Ta-Dzong (watch tower), where you’ll be introduced to Bhutan with a visit to the National Museum which houses art, handicrafts, costumes and ancient weapons displays.  The museum is temporarily housed in a building located just above the old museum (ancient watch tower), which is undergoing major renovation from the earthquake few years ago. Stroll the streets of Paro in the afternoon and enjoy shopping. 

Dinner and Cooking Class with local women! 

Day 09 – September 21        Tiger’s Nest 

 

Morning Stretching and Yoga. Begin the day with breakfast before a short drive to Taktshang Monastery. The trail to the monastery climbs through pine trees festooned with Spanish moss and occasional fluttering prayer flags. Hike at your own pace for about two hours till mid point (cafeteria) and continue for another two hours till the monastery.

 

Built in 1600s, the monastery clings to the edge of a sheer-rock cliff that plunges 2,952 feet into the valley below. It is believed that, in the 8th century, Guru Rinpoche, the tantric mystic who brought Buddhism to Bhutan, landed here on the back of a flying tigress to subdue a demon. Guru Rinpoche is believed to have meditated here for three months. 

Lunch at the cafeteria or at the restaurant  in the valley below.  This afternoon is free to enjoy massage at the hotel. 

Overnight at Hotel. (All meals)

Day 10 – September 22 

 

Morning     Meditation Session and Intention Setting with Elayne.

Our last morning we will enjoy visiting local art galleries and studios and have time to leisurely shop.   One highlight is an exchange with Yusel Handicrafts on Main St. and exchange with Ugyen, a single mother who employs women who have suffered a lot of hard luck, so I like to support her as she so nice and does such good things her mission about more than just money.

Lunch

 

Afternoon Wrap-Up Integration Session with Elayne. 

Farewell dinner at  the  Sonam Trophel Restaurant

Day 11- September 23
Transfer to airport for flight home 

*** Photography is restricted inside the shrine of the Dzongs (fortresses) and the temples. Photography is however allowed in the courtyard of the fortresses. Formal attire (long pants & long sleeve shirt) is required and shoes/hats are to be removed when entering shrines/temples as a mark of respect. When in doubt, please ask your guide.

 

 

PRICE INCLUDES:

  • All accommodations in clean standard 3 hotels with attached bathroom on twin-sharing basis

  • All meals at fine local restaurants  and at the hotels 

  • All land transfers in comfortable mini coach

  • A third to the government as ‘welfare levy’ (used to sustain free education and free health care system)

  • Services of an accompanying tour guide

  • Visa fee & fees for museums and special permits to enter temples & monuments

  • Complimentary bottled water in the car/van 

  • Donations to 2 ngos

  • Honoraria for speakers

 

 

EXCLUDES:

  • Passport services

  • Flights to and from Bhutan or Bangkok though flights will be made on Drukair from Bangkok to Paro.

  • Travel insurance (recommended)

  • Extra Beverages during meals (outside of coffee, tea or water)

  • Tip and gratuity for your tour staff (guide and driver) 

  • Personal expenses such as laundry, phone calls, Spa, internet, etc.

We believe that each traveler is unique, and that your input is just as invaluable as our commitment to optimizing your Bhutan experience. Each day, you are encouraged to discuss/share with your guide, your interests/choice for the following day. Weather and time permitting, and also based on your own preferences, you may prioritize and not necessarily complete all the activities listed under options.

 

Kindly note the driving hours. Bhutanese roads are long, winding and often vertiginous, which makes getting anywhere very time-consuming. Highways are also undergoing widening works. But you will find comfort in the most dramatic of scenes.

Bhutan Customized Journey for Elayne Le Monde - Empower Wholeness LLC 

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