Tibet Pilgrimage – September 2014

15 DAYS TOUR OF TIBET – QINGHAI 

& MAHKHANG / DHETSANG SCENIC SKYWAY

 

Potala Palace, Lhasa

This September, join Meath Conlan, PhD and Margareta Lee in a unique, personally escorted pilgrimage to the famous Dhe Tsang Monastery, Lhasa, the ancient Tibetan capital, and then travel by train to Quinghai – an unforgettable scenic and spiritual tour. The Dhe Tsang Monastery was the seat of the late Khejok Rinpoche – Australian citizen and revered Buddhist teacher of the Gelugpa Order. Dr Conlan has written of his teachings in his online book: “The House is Burning: How to Get Out Alive” (Amazon).

 

Dates & Flight Schedule:

28 Aug Thur Singapore-Chengdu CA0404 0200/0630

03 Sep  Wed     Chengdu-Lhasa CA4403 0710/0920

10 Sep Wed  Xining-Chengdu CA4206 1030/1155

11 Sep Thur Chengdu-Singapore CA0403 2000/0040+1

 

Day 01 (28 Aug) Thur Singapore-Chengdu (breakfast/lunch/dinner)

Group arrival Chengdu at 6.30am. After

breakfast, proceed to Panda Zoo and hotel

check in.  In the evening we attend the

Sichuan Opera.

 

DheTsang Monastery - Facade and Forecourt

Day 02 (29 Aug) Fri Chengdu – Mahkhang (approx 8hrs) (breakfast)

Day 03 (30 Aug) Sat Mahkhang – Dhetsang Monastery (approx 3hrs)

DheTsang Monastery (alt. 12,500') - Prayer flags decorate the hills

Day 04 (31 Aug) Sun Dhetsang Monastery (we stay at the Monastery)

Day 05 (01 Sep) Mon Dhetsang Monastery – Mahkhang (approx 3hrs)

Day 06 (02 Sep) Tue Mahkhang – Chengdu (approx 8hrs)

    Overnight at our hotel in Chengdu

 

Day 07 (03 Sep) Wed Chengdu-Lhasa. Fly to Lhasa.  Our guide will meet us at Konggar Airport and transfer us to

Lhasa city – about two hours’ drive (100km).

Nie Tang - Giant Buddha Sculpture on way to Lhasa

On way, we are greeted by Nie Tang Buddha -

a giant image engraved in the mountain face.

Arrive in Lhasa, rest and acclimatize. 

Overnight at our hotel in Lhasa. (Dinner)

 

Day 08 (04 Sep) Thur LHASA

After breakfast – a whole day of sightseeing in

the holy city.

Potala Palace, Lhasa - in the evening light

In the morning, visit Lhasa’s land-mark Potala Palace – a structure that deserves a place as one of the wonders of eastern architecture.

The most sacred Jokhiang Temple, Lhasa

After lunch we visit Jokhang temple – the most

revered religious structure in Tibet, and the 

surrounding area Barkhor – Lhasa’s pilgrimage circuit.  This area is both the spiritual heart of 

Lhasa and the main commercial district for 

Tibetans.  Overnight Lhasa (breakfast/lunch/dinner)

 

Day 09 (05 Sep) Fri  LHASA

After breakfast we explore more monasteries such as Drepung Monastery, once considered the world’s largest monastic community of 10,000 monks. Thereafter to the Norbulingka – The Dalai Lama’s Summer Palace.

Overnight Lhasa (breakfast/lunch/dinner)

 

Day 10 (06 Sep) Sat LHASA – YAMDROKTSO – SHIGATSE

Circuitous roads are part of the journey

Today, we’ll explore outside Lhasa.

In the morning, drive 110km to visit

Yamdroktso – one of the three holy lakes in 

Tibet.  It’s a winding road to the mountain, and

bumpy a little.  After we pass over

the Kambala pass, the lake finally

appears.  Seen from the summit of Kambala

pass, the lake is a fabulous shade of deep

turquoise.  After descending from the mountain, 

there’s a 30km road along lakeside, with

barley fields one side of the road.

A nice walk by the lakeside can be a great joy.

Leaving Yamdroktso is as spectacular as arriving,

since we will cross the 5045m Karola, with its

awesome roadside views of the Nojin Kangtsang

Glacier.  In the afternoon, we’ll go to Gyantse, and

visit Kumbum Monastery there.  After that we

drive about two hours (100km) to Shigatse.

Overnight in Shigatse (breakfast/lunch/dinner)

 

Day 11 (07 Sep) Sun SHIGATSE – LHASA

Shigatse Monastery - Seat of the Panchen Lama

In the morning, we’ll drive to the residence

of Panchen Lama (Tashilumpo Monastery). After

visiting this magnificent monastery and having lunch at Shigatse, we’ll go back to Lhasa along

the Yarlong Tseangpo river.  Wonderful views of the

Wonderful Tibetan river drives await us

landscape enroute.  In the afternoon, we drive

to the Gaden Monastery (the first Gelugpa

Monstery) which has remained the main seat of this major Buddhist order since 1409.  Ganden

means “joyous” in Tibetan – the name of the

western paradise that is the home to Jampa Buddha.

Overnight in Lhasa (breakfast/lunch.dinner)

 

Day 12 (08 Sep) Mon LHASA – QINGHAI

Views from the train journey: Lhasa to Quinghai (24 Hours)

We will take the Qinghai – Tibet train to Xi’ning.

The route: Lhasa – Damxung – Nagqu – Amdo – Tuotuo

River – Gelmud – Xi’ning. (Meals on board the train will be covered by yourself).  Overnight on the train.

(breakfast)

 

Day 13 (09 Sep) Tue QINGHAI

After 24hrs travelling, we arrive at Xi’ning

(pearl of Qinghai – Tibet Plateau) Railway Station and

transfer to hotel. Here we experience the 

difference between Loess Plateau and Qinghai-Tibet

Plateau, as well as between Chinese and Tibetan

cultures. We enjoy views of the well-known

Ri Yue mountain, Ri Pavilion, the Yue Pavilion and 

Dao Tang River.  Another highlight of the day is

the famous Qinghai Lake (Koko Nor), which is the

biggest inland salt lake in China.  This somewhat

surreal-looking saline lake is the largest lake in China

containing huge numbers of fish.  Kumbum (Ta’er)

Monastery is one of the six great monasteries of the

Gelugpa sect of Tibetan Buddhism.  The monastery

is noted for its extraordinary art of yak butter

sculpture, fresco and embroidery.  Overnight in

Xi’ning (lunch/dinner)

 

Day 14 (10Sep) Wed XI’NING – CHENGDU

This morning, after the excursion of the highland

park we prepare to depart. 

Our guide will transfer us to the airport, and help 

us board the plane.  Say goodbye to Tibet. Our

local guide will meet us at the Chengdu Airport.

Take our leisure in town.  Overnight in Chengdu.

(breakfast)

 

Day 15 (11 Sep) Thur CHENGDU – SINGAPORE

After breakfast.  Free activities.  We park our

luggage and get ready for leaving.  Transfer

to the airport.  Flight to Singapore.

End the tour with sweet memories (Breakfast)

ACCOMODATION ( * these or similar will be local 4 stars)

Chengdu: International/Sichuan Hotel or similar 

Xining: Gold Seat Hotel or similar

Lhasa: The Tibet Gang Gyan Lhasa Hotel or similar

Shigatse:  Jiumu Yamei International Hotel or similar

 

COST: USD$3,800 

(Our Tour is from and back to Singapore)

 

INFORMATION:

Dr Meath Conlan (Perth, Australia): meath@diversejourneys.com

Mrs Margareta Lee (Singapore): margareta_royal@yahoo.com.sg

 

14-Day Spiritual/Scenic Journey in Tibet

14-DAY SPIRITUAL AND SCENIC JOURNEY IN EASTERN TIBET AND LHASA 

29 August – 15 September 2014

Meath Conlan and Margareta Lee (of Singapore) are offering a special 14-day spiritual journey to Dhe Tsang Buddhist Monastery in the mountains of Eastern Tibet, and thereafter to Lhasa. Meath of Diverse Journeys, and member of the Bede Griffiths Trust, is an honorary member of the Dhe Tsang monastery (as shown in Meath’s watercolour painting above) – having stayed with the community of monks several times over the last fifteen years. Margareta is a frequent visitor to Dhe Tsang – having organised many groups in this part of the world.

Cost: to be finalised and posted very shortly.

29 August – 3 September 2014: 6-days Journey: Singapore – Chengdu – Mahkhang – Dhe Tsang Monastery

Day 1: Friday 29 Aug. Singapore – Chengdu

Day 2: Saturday 30 Aug. Chengdu – Mahkhang – Dhe Tsang Monastery

Day 3: Sunday 31 Aug. Dhe Tsang Monastery

Day 4: Monday 1 Sept. Dhe Tsang Monastery

Day 5: Tuesday 2 Sept. Dhe Tsang Monastery – Mahkhang

Day 6:  Wednesday 3 Sept. Mahkhang – Chengdu

4 – 14 September 2014: 8-Days Journey: Scenic Journey of Qinghai – Tibet 

Day 7: Thursday 4 Sept. Chengdu – Lhasa

Day 8: Friday 5 Sept. Lhasa – Gaden Monastery

Day 9: Saturday 6 Sept. Lhasa – Yamdroktse – Shigatse

Day 10: Sunday 7 Sept. Shigate – Lhasa

Day 11: Monday 8 Sept. Lhasa – Xining (overnight train journey – 26 hours; Mooncake Festival on board the train)

Day 12: Tuesday 9 Sept. Train Journey

Day 13: Wednesday 10 Sept. Xining

Day 14: Thursday 11 Sept. Xining – Chengdu

Day 15: Friday 12 Sept. Chengdu – Singapore

Enquiries and requests for further information may be made through - 

Dr Meath Conlan: meath@diversejourneys.com

or through Margareta Lee: margareta_royal@yahoo.com.sg

 

Gentleness: A Mark of True Strength

My maternal grandparents: Annie and Tom Underdown, pioneers of Western Australia, who valued the real strength that is displayed by qualities of gentleness.

Over forty years ago my parents travelled to meet friends in Casper, Wyoming. Their hosts, Glen and Joyce Taylor, took them to the local Country Club in Casper. During lunch Glen and Joyce introduced my parents to John Wayne, the actor. My father remarked how tall he was in comparison  and what a massive physique he had. Both my parents observed what a complete gentleman the actor was. Over the years, a message I have received from my parents is that the really strong men of the world are first and foremost known for their gentleness; such men show their inner strength through their gentle regard for others; their good manners and thoughtfulness.

I watched a television documentary last night – a sad and alarming portrayal of Australian tourists in Bali last night: “Bali – the Dark Side of Paradise.” I doubt I need to paint a picture for my readers; everyone knows the stereo-typical loud, uncouth, drunk, drugged Aussie louts that populate the beaches and streets of Kuta. I watched in growing alarm that we have become known for such behaviour, and that it is regarded, by some, as “normal” and okay. I wonder how the nation can take a step back and look closely at the drugs and alcohol that seems to flood our society… I believe it’s high time we do so. Where are the really strong men who, through their inner strength, based on gentleness and good manners, can help show the way for what may well be termed “a lost generation of Australian men?”

Such gentleness and regard for the human situation is long established. As far back as Late Roman Antiquity I found a story of Elder Ammonas that is apt as an illustration of the influence of one man who refused to attack, or condemn, or judge – but rather, grant the gentle and kindly response to those voices around him that wanted angry retribution. The world needs such examples in the really strong men. I hope, like in John Wayne’s case, they come forward and take up the challenge. Here is the story of Ammonas:

It is said of Elder Ammonas that his gentle goodness was so indelibly etched into his character that he took no notice of wickedness in others. Once upon a time a group of old men brought him a young woman who was pregnant. They called her a wretch and demanded Ammonas give her a severe penance. He, however, marked her womb with the sign of the cross. He then commanded that six pairs of fine linen sheets be given her. He said, “It is for fear that when she comes to give birth, either she or the child will die, and they will have nothing for the burial.” But her accusers remonstrated, saying, “Why did you do that Abba? Give her a punishment!” But he turned, looked at them, and said, “Look here my brothers, she is near death; what am I to do?” After that no old man dared accuse anyone any more.

Everyday Anxiety as a Way of Transformation

Today I sat at breakfast with my old friend Karl. Not uncommonly our dialogue centres on life as a kaleidoscope; there is so much around us that builds wonder and awe – and it’s constantly changing. At such times of friendly sharing I become increasingly aware of all that is good, true and beautiful around me. In the presence of a friend like Karl I see more things in balance and a healthy perspective. As things developed, we settled upon the whole question of everyday anxiety and how this can influence the quality, drive, optimism or otherwise, creativity and outcomes of our lives throughout the day. For some, what some may see as trifles in daily life, are daunting obstacles for others. Yet each of us, in our own way, have to confront and deal with the relatively small anxieties as a matter of constant practice. Thus, when the really big issues and problems arise, we at least have some practice at placing all things in perspective and not being crushed by the sudden arrival of seeming misfortune and calamity. Karl has a way of bringing me “back to basics;” he helps me recall the people who, by their resilience and strength of character, have been able to rise above their narrow self-interests and self-absorption to a new and transformed level of being.

Nothing seems to be too big or daunting for Genevieve as she faces life's daily challenges

One of the really remarkable personalities I have, over the last couple of years, become friends with is a travel companion named Genevieve. We’ve just been to Thailand and Cambodia, where I saw Genevieve face up to whatever, on the trail, each new day brings. Genevieve is one of those inspirational people one meets, who lifts one out of one’s own little cavern of self-preoccupation, into the larger world – a world which is full of possibilities, and which, if we let it, can transform our lives and make of them something really wonderful.

As I spoke to Karl today I was reminded of some encouragement given to her companions by that wise woman Teresa of Avila in Spain during the sixteenth century. Her words were rightly aimed at the spirits of her fellow travellers, who were doubtless flagging in their spirits and overcome, to whatever degree, by their everyday anxieties. She likened their inner spirits to the little silkworm that by and by spins an incredible silk “tomb” in which hidden miracles of transformation take place. It is not dissimilar for us human beings. For if we follow the promptings of our daily lives, that is, if we “eat the leaves” that Nature offers us, observe the chances and daily opportunities, we too have the chance of transformation (just like a silkworm eating mulberry leaves) and, in time, will find meaning and purpose in all those things that seem, from time to time, to beset us as obstacles to happiness and an enjoyable life. Here is more or less what Teresa advised:

Dwell then, little silkworm, in the dark and narrow prison of your cocoon until the warmth of grace (or, if you like, Nature) forms you and hatches you out. Eat all the leaves which grace presents to you. Don’t let sadness and disappointment at the loss of the former sense of “peace and security” you thought you once had, overcome you and make you regret your self-abandonment to the Natural processes. Stop what you are doing when Nature gives the signal. In your alternating periods of repose and action and your incomprehensible metamorphoses, you must shed your old forms and methods and habits. This is in the Nature of things. You will find that in your recurring death and resurrection there will be plenty of opportunity to take on those aspects of Nature’s wisdom that will bring you home to yourself. So my friends, go on spinning your silk in secret, doing what you can neither feel nor see. Abandon yourself to this Nature’s directions in order to spin a silk in which the princes of the world will be proud to be clothed. After that, what will you become, little worm? What will be the issue for you? What a wonder of Nature that a person can assume so many forms! Who can guess where Nature’s grace will lead it? Indeed, who could guess the designs of nature on a silkworm, if he had not observed them? All it needs is mulberry leaves, that is all. Nature does the rest.

Bhutan: Spiritual Tour – 26 September – 5 October, 2013

BHUTAN SPIRITUAL TOUR

Guide to Diverse Journeys’ and Druk Asia’s Itinerary: Thursday 26 September – Saturday 5 October, 2013.

Come to the Kingdom of Bhutan with Dr Meath Conlan and Margareta Lee (of Singapore), and a small group of travelers. Our itinerary is generally longer and has more activities listed on each day. We have initially done so to cater to our travelers who are able walkers/climbers. If you would like to linger or have a slower pace, please know that you can do so. You are welcome to discuss your itinerary with myself, Dr Meath Conlan, and prioritize the attractions which you prefer the most. The wider options are also meant to provide you with possibilities should you wish to adapt your trip (e.g. some guests, who are not inclined to the longer walks or climbs may wish to sit and sketch, read or simply rest).

We suggest that you use your itinerary as a “guide” rather than a fixed schedule. Remember the unexpected is always possible in Bhutan. Also, as Bhutan has really just opened up, do not expect service to be what you may be used to. However, to offset this, the Bhutanese are among the world’s friendliest and jolliest people.

We use Standard Hotels during the Peak Periods (March, April, May, Sept, Oct and Nov). Our tour, of course, is in September and October, 2013.

Some of the preferred hotels with which we work closely:

Paro: Tenzinling Hotel, Metta Resort & Spa or equivalent
Thimphu: Kisa Hotel, Khang Residency, Rochel Pel or equivalent Punakha: Meri Puensum, Dragon Nest or equivalent
Wangdue: Dragon Nest Hotel
Bumthang: Rinchen Ling Hotel, Peling Hotel and Yu Gar-Ling Hotel

Visiting Bhutan is a once-in-a-lifetime trip, and, as a consequence our intention is that our guests enjoy every moment soaking in this amazing Kingdom.

Day 1: Paro – Thimphu Thursday, 26th September 2013

Elevation 2,320m | Drive time 1 hours

Welcome to Bhutan, the Land of the Thunder Dragon. Touching down at Paro International Airport, we are greeted by our guide upon exiting the arrival hall. Today, we will necessarily take it easy to acclimatise to the altitude. Drive to Thimphu, check in to the hotel and enjoy our first taste of Bhutanese cuisine.

National Memorial Chorten [1 hrs] – Meet the elderly generation in circumambulation at the National Memorial Chorten. Chorten literally means ‘Seat of Faith’ and Buddhists often call such monuments, the
‘Mind of Buddha’. We will see fantastic depictions of Buddhist teachings in form of paintings and sculptures at this temple.

As the name denotes this National Memorial Chorten was consecrated on July 28, 1974 in memory of the Third King.

Tashichhodzong (Thimphu Dzong) [1 hrs] – The “fortress of the glorious religion” was initially constructed in 1641 and restored by the Third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck in the 1960s. Tashichhodzong houses several Ministries: His Majesty’s Secretariat, and the Central Monastic Body. (Hours: 5 – 6 pm Mon – Fri, 8 am – 6 pm Sat & Sun, to 5 pm in winter)

Folk Heritage Museum [1 hrs] – If there is still time, we may visit this replica of a traditional Bhutanese house as it would have looked 100 years ago and as many Bhutanese families still live to this day.
Please note: museum, monastery, temple and dzong opening days and times can and do vary with national holidays and events such a visit by a member of the Royal Family or auspicious ceremonies.

(Hours: weekday, 10 am – 4.30 pm, Sat 10.30 – 1 pm, Sun, 11.30 – 3.30pm)

Buddha Point [1 hrs] – Located at Kuensel Phodrang, the 169 feet bronze statue of Buddha Dordenma, Vajra Throne Buddha symbolising indestructibility will be completed soon. The view of Thimphu valley from the Buddha point is spectacular and beautiful, especially at night.

Day 2: Thimphu (Tango Day Hike) Friday, 27th September 2013

Elevation 2,320m

Situated at an altitude of 2400m, Thimphu is the centre of government, religion and commerce. The capital has an interesting combination of tradition and modernity. It includes some of the most advanced and remotest parts of the kingdom. It is home to the Kings and the Royal family, civil servants, expatriates, politicians, business persons and monks. Enjoy this cultural mix based on livelihood. Guests may walk through temples, dzongs, chortens, museums, handicraft stores, nunneries, parks and much more.

Tango/Cheri Monastery [4 hrs] – Trek to Tango Goemba & picnic/lunch by river The Tango Goemba site has had religious significance since the 12th century when it was the home of the Lama who brought the Drukpa Kagyupa school of Buddhism to Bhutan. Tango, a Buddhist monastic college, is named after a vision of the horse-headed deity experienced by Drukpa master Phajo Drukom Zhigpo, while Cheri is a retreat centre for meditating lamas. Both monasteries are about an hour’s hike.

Tango is the highest center of Buddhist learning in the country; almost every Je Khenpo (religious head of Bhutan) completed the 9-year program there. After completing that program, monks traditionally spend 3 years, 3 months and 3 days in mediation at the nearby Cheri Goemba retreat, built in 1619 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the founder or first unifier of Bhutan. It is currently the home of an 19 year old boy believed to be the seventh reincarnation of the fourth desi, or ruler, of Bhutan.

After our hike, we might want to enjoy a leisurely packed lunch by the river.

Changangkha Monastery [3 hrs] – Built in 12th century, Changangkha Lhakhang is oldest temple in Thimphu. It is hovering over a ridge above Thimphu, near Motithang. Lama Phajo Drukgom Zhigpo who came to

Bhutan from Ralung in Tibet chose this site to build this lhakhang. The Lhakhang houses Chenrizig: an 11-headed, thousand-armed manifestation of Avolokitesawara as the central statue.

Weaving Centre [1 hrs] – Learn about Bhutan’s living national art of weaving.

Institute of Zorig Chusum [1 hrs] – Commonly known as the Painting School, or the School of the Thirteen Arts, the Institute offers a glimpse of novices learning 13 traditional Bhutanese arts and crafts.

(Hours: Mon – Fri, 09.00 – 15.30; Sat, 09.00 – 12.00)

Takin Enclosure [1 hrs] – On the way to the viewpoint over Thimphu is the home of Bhutan’s national animal, the Takin, a strange looking beast some say looks like a bee-stung moose.

Sangaygang (BBS Tower) [2 hrs] – Drive about 15 minutes from the main city to a hillock where the Bhutan Broad Casting Tower is stationed. From there we relish the beautiful scene of the whole of Thimphu City. On the way up or down from this hillock, we see Takin, the national animal of Bhutan.

It is also possible to enjoy an early morning walk up to this view point.

Visit the Archery Ground [1 hrs] – The national sport of Bhutan. Archery in Bhutan is culturally distinctive. People from different social strata find archery one of the most enjoyable sports, being both fun and physical exercise. Archery in Bhutan is a way of socialization, communication, and development of relations between people. Emotions run high during competitions. Support for archers and ridicule or distraction of opponents can become as energised as in other countries’ sporting events.

Day 3: Thimphu to Punakha Saturday, 28th September 2013

Elevation 1,300m | Drive time 3 hours

We will set off early from Thimphu after breakfast, perhaps with a visit to the weekend market first. Then proceed to Punakha, the ancient capital of Bhutan, about 2 1/2 hours drive from Thimphu across Dochu-la pass. Once we cross the pass, we wind down into a warm fertile valley and meander along a gently flowing aquamarine river that leads to the Punakha Dzong, the second dzong to be built in Bhutan.

Dochula Pass [2 hrs] – at 3,050m, this beautiful pass with its 108 Bhutanese stupas was built by Her Majesty The Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck to commemorate victory over Indian militants and to liberate the souls of the lives lost.

Chhimi Lhakhang [2 hrs] – The divine madman also known, as Drukpa Kinley is a famous teacher with whom the phallic symbol is associated. The Divine Madman sits there though a statue this time; his deeds painted on the walls.

Pho Chhu Suspension Bridge [1 hrs] – The 160 metres Pho Chhu Suspension Bridge is known for the longest suspension bridge in Bhutan; giving you spectacular views of Punakha dzong and the Pho Chhu Valley.

Dochu La Nature Hike [1 hrs] – Hike through the deep forest of Rhododendrons, Magnolia and Juniper for more than 2 hours to the Botanical Garden at the bottom. Guests can hike here, observing the beautiful flora that Dochu-la has to offer.

Punakha Dzong [2 hrs] – Placed strategically at the junction of the Pho Chu and Mo Chu rivers, the dzong was built in 1637 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to serve as the religious and administrative seat of the region. It was here that the dual system of government was introduced in the 17th century. In 1907, the country enthroned the first King Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuck. Damaged over the centuries by four catastrophic fires and an earthquake, the dzong has been fully restored in the recent years by the 4th King Jigme Singye Wangchuck. At the dzong enrich your trip with the opportunity to see the highest standards in woodwork. Do not miss the massive Kuenray, the Coronation Hall of all Bhutanese kings, the Dzongchung at the entrance to the dzong and the cantilever bridge over the Mochu that has been recently renovated.

Khamsum Yuley Temple [3 hrs] – There is no temple in Bhutan built as elaborately as this. This fascinating temple was built by the Queen Mother of the 5th King to bring universal peace in this world. Beautiful art works are painted on the inner walls. There are also paintings of Buddhist teachers and tutelary deities of the country; the perfect arena for the study of symbolic meanings of frescoes and sculptures.

1 hour to ascend and 1 hour to descend.

Day 4: Punakha to Trongsa Sunday, 29th September 2013

Drive time 8 hours

Pelela Pass (alt. 3300m) is an important dividing range that separates Western from Central and Eastern Bhutan. Crossing this important Pass, one may enjoy pastoral feelings while driving deeper into the valley with meadows where sheep and yaks graze. The bamboos that grow plentifully on these hillsides are trimmed by yaks; they love dwarfed bamboos. Bird watchers look out for the specialty called the Wren Babbler taking refuge underneath those bamboos. In the months of April-June, the hillsides are painted with the rhododendron blooms. Trongsa district, is the sacred and the temporal heart of the country.

Trongsa Museum (Taa Dzong) [2 hrs] – sits high above the valley at a strategic vantage point over Trongsa Dzong. The “Tower of Trongsa” tells the stories of the dzong and the valley that it has watched over for centuries. His Majesty the King inaugurated the Taa Dzong as a museum dedicated to the Wangchuk dynasty. Thus marking yet another significant event as the nation celebrates 100 years of the monarchy. The museum represents a tasteful blend of tradition and modernity. There are 224 items on display, include a sacred image of Sung Joenma Dorji Chang (self-spoken Vajradharna), a bronze statue of Pema Lingpa, made by himself, and a number of centuries old treasures such as dance and ritual costumes and objects, ancient prayer books, paintings, scrolls and textiles.

Chendebji Chorten [1 hrs] – Two kilometres beyond Chendebji village is Chendebji Chorten, at a lovely spot by a river confluence. The large white chorten is patterned after Swayambhunath in Kathmandu and was built in the 19th century by Lama Shida, to cover the remains of an evil spirit that was killed.

Trongsa Dzong [1 hrs] – Foundations here were laid in the 16th century by Pema Lingpa and flourished during the 17th century under Shabdrung Ngwang Namgyal. The impressive fortress is a massive structure; its wall looming high above the winding Mangde Chu Valley, commanding the east-west road.

Day 5: Bumthang Monday, 30th September 2013 

Bumthang is one of the most spectacular valleys in Bhutan and also the heartland of Buddhism in Bhutan. It is an area with a wide variety of fauna and flora. The Guru Rinpoche and his lineage of Tertons (treasure finders) making Bumthang his home have led to more than 40 temples being built in this peaceful valley.

Kurjey Lhakhang [1 hrs] – one of the most sacred monasteries in Bhutan. Built by the Guru Rinpoche in 1652, it houses a rock with an imprint of his body. Legend has it that Guru Rinpoche manifested as a Garuda to defeat the demon Shelging Karpo who had taken the form of a white lion.

Jambay Lhakhang [1 hrs] – This 7th century monastery was one of 108 monasteries built in 659 by Tibetan King Sontsen Gampo to subdue evil spirits in the Himalayan region and who was obstructing the spread of Buddhism. Its present architectural appearance dates from the early 20th century. However the inner shrine with the Future Buddha is believed to have been there some 1400 years ago.

Jambay Festival (Jambay Lhakhang Drup in the late autumn) is famous for the Tercham. English-speaking Bhutanese refer to this dance as the Naked Dance.

Tamshing Goemba [2 hrs] – Built by 1501 by Buddhist saint Pema Lingpa then hike up to Thangbi Valley and cross a suspension bridge to visit Thangbi Lhakhang built in the 14th century via unpaved road.

Jakar Dzong [1 hrs] – Pitched on a high ground overlooking the town junction, the Dzong was first constructed in 1549 by the great-grandfather of the first Shabdrung, the dzong was initially built as a monastery. It was upgraded in 1646, after the Shabdrung had firmly established his power. Jakar Dzong is now used as the administrative center for Bumthang valley, and also houses the regional monastic convocation.

Day 6: Bumthang, visit Ura Valley Tuesday, 1st October 2013 

One of Bhutan’s most tranquil and beautiful valleys, in Bumthang. While in Ura visit the Ura Monastery; enjoy the meadows and the beautiful landscapes; the buck-wheat and barley fields.

Dechen Chholing Goemba [2 hrs] – Chakhar (Iron Castle) Lhakhang; is the site of the palace of the Indian King, Sindhu Raja, who invited Guru Rinpoche to Bumthang. The Original palace was made of Iron and hence the name Chakhar. The saint Dorji Lingpa built the Current building in 14th century. Its correct name is Dechen Phodrang.

Ura Valley [6 hrs] – Enjoy an excursion to Ura valley which will be around four hours driving back and forth. The drive is exciting as it passes through some sheep farms. Serthang-la pass at 3600m above sea level offers a great view of Gangkar Puensum (the highest unclimbed mountain in the Himalayas).

Farmers at Ura village are enterprising; they have a community library initiated by Global READ (an NGO from the US). The highlight of Ura village is the festival that takes place in spring.

Me-Bar Tsho (Burning Lake) [1 hrs] – One of the most sacred lake-sites in Bhutan. Long ago, Terton Pema Lingpa (Buddhist saint and treasure discoverer) dove into the lake while holding a burning butter lamp on one hand. Several hours later when he came out of the lake, he was holding some relics one one hand, while the butter lamp in his other hand was still burning! Thus the lake was called Me-Bar Tsho (Me-bar=Burning Tsho=Lake)

Day 7: Bumthang to Gangtey Wednesday, 2nd October 2013

Drive time 7 hours

The valley of Phobjikha is well-known as the winter home of the Black Necked Crane (Grus Nigricollis). Bhutan is home to around six hundred Black Necked Cranes, with Phobjikha being one of the popular places to which birds migrate in the winter months from the Tibetan plateau. Unfortunately for our September tour, the elegant and shy birds can be observed from early November to end of March.

Black-Necked Crane Information Centre [1 hrs] -  Here there are informative displays about the cranes and the valley environment. Guests can use the centre’s powerful telescopes; checking what is seen against the Centre’s pamphlet ‘Field Guide to Crane Behaviour’. If the weather is inclement Guests can browse the library and handicraft shop.

This is also the centre of the valley’s fledgling ecotourism initiative. Guests can enjoy mountain-bike hire (cost: Nu 700 per day), an overnight stay in a local farmhouse, or informative lectures on the local ecosystem.

Nature Hike along the valley of Phobjikha [2 hrs] – A short trek of about 90-120 minutes known as the ‘Gangte Nature Trail’ – starts from the Mani stone wall to the north of the Gangteng Gonpa and ends in Khewa Lhakhang.

Gangtey Goempa [1 hrs] – Situated south of the road and east of Wangdue Phodrang, is Gangtey Gompa, an old monastery dating back to the 17th century. The largest Nyingma monastery in western Bhutan, it was founded in 1613 by Gyalse Pema Thinlay.

Day 8: Gangtey to Paro Thursday, 3rd October 2013

Elevation 2,280m | Drive time 5 hours

The beautiful valley of Paro is home to many of Bhutan’s old monasteries and temples. The country’s only Airport is in Paro. The valley is also home to mount Chomolhari (alt. 7,300 meters) situated at the northern end of the valley whose glacial waters forms the Pachu, flowing through the valley.

Paro Dzong (aka Ringpung Dzong) [2 hrs] – Explore the Rinpung Dzong, which the locals call the ‘fortress of a heap of jewels’. Built in 1646 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the dzong stands on a hill above Paro Township. It is linked by the traditional cantilever bridge (called the Nemi Zam) over the scenic Pa Chu River. Guests can walk up a paved stone path running alongside the imposing outer walls. Once inside the Dzong, you will be welcomed by the monks, architecture and the ancient frescoes.

Kyichu Lhakhang [1 hrs] – Also known as Kyerchu Temple or Lho Kyerchu, is the oldest temple in Bhutan. Just like Jambhay Lhakhang in Bumthang, it is one of the 108 temples built by the Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo to subdue an ogress that was obstructing the spread of Buddhism. According to legend, all 108 temples were built in a single night.

Go back in time to visit the 7th century Kyichhu temple; a reservoir of peace; the serenity is quite palpable here.

Next to the temple is a museum dedicated to the late famous Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.

Paro Valley [0 hrs] – The beautiful valley is home to many of Bhutan’s old monasteries and temples. The country’s only Airport is in Paro. The valley is also home to mount Chomolhari (alt. 7,300 meters) situated at the northern end of the valley whose glacier water forms the Pachu River, flowing through the valley. The following are some of the prominent places to visit in Paro.

Day 9: Paro Friday, 4th October 2013

Elevation 2,280m

We will be making the hike up to one of the key highlights in Bhutan today – Tiger’s Nest, also know as the Taktsang Monastery

Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest) [6 hrs] – perched on the cliffs, has struck many a visitor with awe. The journey there fills one with spiritual bliss. For those not choosing the spiritual side it is the dramatic, artistically built monument that becomes a hiker’s delight. During this climb guests ascend more than two thousand feet from the valley floor.

A prominent Himalayan Buddhist sacred site and temple complex located on the cliff side of Paro Valley. According to legends, it is believed that Guru Rinpoche flew to this location from Tibet on the back of a Tigress (his consort Yeshey Tshogyal) and meditated in one of the caves. Guru Rinpoche performed meditation and emerged in eight manifestations thus rendering the place holy, and ever since, called “Tiger’s Nest”.

Drukgyal Dzong [1 hrs] – Ruins of this fortress tell a tale of how medieval warriors defended Bhutan from northern invaders. Built in 1647 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, father and unifier of medieval Bhutan, to commemorate the victory over Tibetan invaders.

Though largely destroyed by fire in 1951, it has been left in ruins as an evocative reminder of the great victories it was built to commemorate. Towering outer walls and central keep still remain an imposing sight. If you want to know how this ruin looked like in those glorious days, visit the archives of National Geographic Magazine of 1914 issue.

Day 10: Depart Paro Saturday, 5th October 2013 

Druk Air Tickets

Druk Air is the only airline that flies in and out of Bhutan. Druk Air fares are subject to change. Also note that Druk Air tickets are refundable, if cancellation is made prior to 45 days of your initial travel date. You may also re-schedule up to one month from date of departure. On receipt of payment for the full fare, guests will be sent a copy of their E-ticket via email.

Should you flight be delayed and you have to miss your connecting flights, Druk Air would arrange for your lodging in Singapore. Druk Air would also arrange for you to take the next flight in the same airline. We advise that all travelers take the so-called “full-fledged” airline for connecting flights as this ensures Druk Air being able to re-schedule your flight. Druk Air may not be able to re-schedule your flight for budget airlines.

Guide & Driver

Our Druk Asia guide will be waiting for our group outside the arrival hall. Both our guide and driver will be with us throughout the trip. Guests are sent their contact number together with Visa.

Your travel package to Bhutan will include:
1) Royal Druk Air Flights: Singapore – Paro – Singapore                                                         2) Visas for Bhutan
3) A qualified & licensed English-speaking guide
4) An experienced driver
5) Suitable transport for your group with experienced driver
6) All meals inclusive at selected restaurants
7) Accommodation at 3-star rated hotels
8) Taxes, surcharges, and required government contribution
9) Mineral water for the duration of the stay

* Hotels in Bhutan are typically subject to availability at point of reservation

The package excludes:
1) Your flights to and from Singapore.                                                                                       2) Hotel Stays in Singapore as you prepare to take your Druk Air flight to Bhutan, or if you wish to remain in Singapore after your tour
3) Personal Travel Insurance
4) Lunch & Dinner outside selected restaurants
5) Tips for guide and driver
6) Alcoholic drinks
7) Expenditure of personal nature, e.g. personal shopping and hot stone bath

Travel to Bhutan

In association with Diverse Journeys, Druk Asia handles the whole booking process on behalf of our guests, including Druk Air flights and visa applications (included in the package) but it is advisable to book well in advance to secure accommodation and seats on Bhutan’s national airline Royal Bhutan Airlines – Drukair.

Further Questions:

May be directed to Dr Meath Conlan of Diverse Journeys: meath@diversejourneys.com

Cost of Tour:

US$4,800 / person / Twin Share ( * cost based on a minimum group of six confirmed guests on this tour)

Deadline for Tour:

The deadline for confirming your intention to come is 25 August, 2013. Once you indicate your intention, Dr Conlan will send further information and deposit details for your convenience.

 

 

Bhutan Tour: August 25 – 30, 2013

PILGRIMAGE TO BHUTAN – 25 AUGUST : Singapore – Paro -Thimphu

Elevation 2,280m | Weather in Paro

PARO DZONG, PARO, BHUTAN

Welcome to Bhutan, the Land of the Thunder Dragon. Touching down at Paro International Airport, we will be greeted by our Druk Asia guide. Today, we will take it easy to acclimatise to the altitude. Drive to Thimphu, check in to the hotel. Here you will have your first taste of Bhutanese cuisine.

 

Ruins of Drukgyal Dzong, Paro, Bhutan

Buddha Point – at Kuensel Phodrang will also be open to tourists once it is completed. The 169 feet bronze statue of Buddha Dordenma, Vajra Throne Buddha symbolising indestructibility will be completed soon. The view of Thimphu valley from the Buddha point is spectacular and beautiful, especially at night.

 

Paro Dzong, Paro, Bhutan

Sangaygang -Drive about 15 minutes from the main city to a hillock where the Bhutan Broad Casting Tower is stationed. From there we can relish the beautiful scene of the whole of Thimphu City. On the way up or down from the hillock, we can also see Takin the national animal of Bhutan.

 

Thimphu Dzong, Trashichodzong, or the fortress of the glorious religion, Bhutan

Thimphu Dzong – the largest Dzong, is also the seat of the office of the King of Bhutan, (5 – 6 pm Mon – Fri, 8 am – 6 pm Sat & Sun, to 5 pm in winter)

 

 

 

 

Thimphu Farmers' Market Thimphu, Bhutan

Centenary Farmers’ Market – Every Saturday and Sunday most of the Thimphu population congregate on the banks of the river where the weekend market is held. Here villagers from the valley and beyond come to sell their agriculture products.

Visit the Archery Ground on the weekend

Taktsang Monastery, Tiger Nest, Paro, Bhutam

National Memorial Chorten – which was built in honor of the late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk Shop. Walk around Thimphu town.

For a taste of local life:

  •   Take coffee at Karma Caffee (better coffee in town)
  •   Ambient Café is where NGOs and expats often converge. It is run by a Western monk who is involved in drug rehabilitation programHotel in Thimphu – Kisa Hotel

    26 AUGUST : Thimphu (Tango Day Trek)

    Elevation 2,280m | Weather in Thimphu

    Day Trek – Tango Goemba

    Trongsa Festival, Trongsa, Bhutan

    The Tango Goemba site has had religious significance since the 12th century when it was the home of the Lama who brought the Drukpa Kagyupa school of Buddhism to Bhutan. The monastery was built there in the 15th century by Drukpa Kunley (“The Divine Madman”). Tango is the highest center of Buddhist learning in the country; almost every Je Khenpo (religious head of Bhutan) completed the 9-year program there. After completing that program, monks traditionally spend 3 years, 3 months and 3 days in mediation at the nearby Cheri Goemba retreat, built in 1619 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the founder or first unifier of Bhutan. It is currently the home of an 11 year old boy believed to be the seventh reincarnation of the fourth Desi, or ruler, of Bhutan.

    Estimated Duration:1 hour to ascend. (Those wishing not to trek may remain behind. There are wonderful opportunities for photography and sketching or quiet meditation)

    Additional Trek- Some of us may choose to trek to go Chari Goemba after Tango Gooemba. This is another one and half hour trek.

    Punakha Dzong in Spring, Punakha, Bhuta

    Chari Gompa – Hike to Chari Gompa. Chari Monastery was established in 1620 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the founder and unifier of Bhutan in memory of his late father Tenpai Nyima. Zhabdrung established the first Drukpa Kagyu monastic order here. The monastery which is now a major teaching and retreat center of the Southern Drukpa Kagyu order is located in the North of Thimphu Valley about fifteen kilometres from the capital. It sits on a hill top close to Tango monastery.

    Estimated Duration:1 hour and 15 minute to ascend. (Those wishing not to trek may remain behind. There are wonderful opportunities for photography and sketching or quiet meditation)

    Heritage Museum – Dedicated to connecting people to the Bhutanese rural past though the exhibition of artifacts used in rural households, (weekday, 10 am – 4.30 pm, Sat 10.30 – 1 pm, Sun, 11.30 – 3.30pm)

    Changangkha Monastery – Built in 12th century, Changangkha Lhakhang is oldest temple in Thimphu; hovering over a ridge above Thimphu, near Motithang. Lama Phajo

    Drukgom Zhigpo, who came to Bhutan from Ralung in Tibet, chose this site to build this lhakhang. The Lhakhang houses Chenrizig: an 11-headed, thousand-armed manifestation of Avolokitesawara as the central statue.

    Simtokha Dzong – Five miles from Thimphu, on a lofty ridge, stands Semtokha Dzong the oldest fortress in the Kingdom.

    Weaving Centre – at Changzamtog
    Zilukha Nunnery – This modern nunnery offers a good view of Thimphu Dzong and the Parliament.

    Textile Museum – witnesses the art of traditional Bhutanese weaving.

    Hotel in Thimphu – Kisa Hotel

    27 AUGUST : Thimphu to Punakha

    Elevation 1,300m | Weather in Punakha

    Punakha Dzong in late Spring, Punakha, Bhutan

    In the morning we will head on to Punakha, the ancient capital of Bhutan. The roads bring visitors through scented pine and cedar forests, festooned with hanging lichen. The Punakha river is one of the biggest rivers in Bhutan. During spring and winter, the color of the river turns jade and is beautiful.

    Dochula Pass – at 3,050m, this beautiful pass with its 108 Bhutanese stupas is the memorial site of fallen Bhutanese soldiers in the 1990s.

    Dochu La Nature Hike – Hike through the deep forest of Rhododendrons, Magnolia and Juniper for more than 2 hours to the Botanical Garden at the bottom. Beautiful hike to see the flora that Dochu la has to offer. This is possible if you start early or have picnic lunch.

    Taktsang Monastery, Paro, Bhutan

    Chhimi Lhakhang – A 20-minutes walk across terraced fields through the village of Sopsokha from the roadside, to the small temple located on a hillock in the centre of the valley below Metshina. Ngawang Chogyel built the temple in 15th century after the ‘Divine Madman’ Drukpa Kuenlay built a small chorten there. It is a pilgrim-site for women desiring to become pregnant.

    Punakha Dzong – Built in 1637, the Dzong continues to be the winter home for the clergy, headed by the Chief Abbott, the Je Khenpo. It is a stunning example of Bhutanese architecture, sitting at the fork of two rivers, portraying the image of a medieval city from a distance. The Dzong was destroyed by fire and glacial floods over the years, but has been carefully restored, and is, today, a fine example of Bhutanese craftsmanship.

    Pho Chhu Suspension Bridge. If time permits:

    Wangdue Dzong, Wangdue, Bhutan

    Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten – Built by the third Queen Mother Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuck, this Chorten is a splendid example of Bhutanese architecture and art, and is the only one of its kind in the world. It has been built over eight and a half years in its details have been drawn from religious scriptures.

    Alternatively some of us may take a walk from Punakha to the hotel – that is, if we are staying in Meri Puensum.

    Drive time 3 and a half hour.

    Hotel in Punakha – Meripuensum

    28 AUGUST : Punakha to Paro

    Elevation 2,280m | Weather in Paro

    In the morning, we can walk along the valley.

    Paro Valley – This beautiful valley is home to many of Bhutan’s old monasteries and temples. The country’s only Airport is in Paro. The valley is also home to Mount Chomolhari (7,300 meters) situated at the northern end of the valley, whose glacial-water forms the Pachu river flowing through the valley. The following are some of the prominent places to visit in Paro.

    Paro Dzong – also known as Rinpung Dzong, this 15th century massive fortress/monastery, is also the administrative center of the Dzonkhag.

    Ta Dzong – Built as a watch-tower, the Ta Dzong has since been turned into the national museum.

    Zuri Dzong Trek. If time permits and the weather is good. This continuse from Ta Dzong.
    Visit the National Museum in Paro. Hike along forested area to Zuri Dzong and then down to Uma Resort. On the way, we will pass Gonsaka Lhakhang, a neglected but charming place that actually predates paro dzong. There is a meditation cave that we can explore here. The view down over the valley and dzong are wonderful. Duration: 2 hours

    Drive time 5 hours
    Hotel in Paro : Metta Resort and Spa

    29 AUGUST : Paro to Haa via Chelela

    Elevation 2,280m | Weather in Paro

    Dochula La and 109 Stupas, Thimphu, Bhutan

    The beautiful Paro valley is home to many of Bhutan’s old monasteries and temples. The country’s only Airport is in Paro. The valley is also home to mount Chomolhari (7,300 meters) situated at the northern end of the valley whose glacier water forms the Pachu flowing through the valley. The following are some of the prominent places to visit in Paro.

    Drive to Haa through Chele La (3,988m). From the pass we can see Paro valley on one side and then Haa valley on the other. We can also have a picnic at Chele La. In Haa, we are able to visit Katsho village and also the Katso Lhakhang.

    The Valley of Haa was only opened to Tourist in 2002. Haa is the least visited valley in Bhutan due to the lack of Tourist infrastructure. This has helped preserving Haa the way it has always been, with Bhutanese families living their traditional and simple life. There are no tourist standard hotels in Haa valley, so we return back to Paro for the night.

    Drive time 2hrs 30 mins each
    Hotel in Paro : Metta Resort and Spa

    30 AUGUST : Paro

    Elevation 2,280m | Weather in Paro

    Finale at Paro Festival, Paro, Bhutan

    Taktsang Monastery – is a prominent Himalayan Buddhist sacred site and temple complex, located on the cliff-side of Paro Valley. According to legends, it is believed that Guru Rinpoche flew to this location from Tibet on the back of a Tigress (his consort Yeshey Tshogyal) and meditated in one of the caves. Guru Rinpoche performed meditation, and emerged in eight manifestations and the place became holy. Thus the place gained the name ‘Tiger’s Nest”.

    Estimated time to ascend 2 and half hour. Estimated time to descend 2 hours. (Note: This is not for everyone, so those wishing to remain behind may do so. We will make sure a thermos of tea is brought with us as a little comfort. Remember to bring your camera and sketch book for the sites)

    Drukgyal Dzong – A drive, north of Paro Valley brings us to the ruins of Drukgyal Dzong. Built in 1647 by the great Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, father and unifier of medieval Bhutan, the Dzong was destroyed by an accidental fire and left in ruins as an evocative reminder of the great victories, it was built to commemorate. Explore the ramparts and relive the memories of a glorious past.

    Kyichu Lhakhang – is one of the oldest temples in Bhutan. Just like the Jambhay Lhakhang in Bumthang, it is one of the 108 temples built by the Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo to subdue and pin down an Ogress that was obstructing the spread of Buddhism. According to legend, all 108 temples were built in a single night.

    Walk and shop around Paro Town.
    Optional, Hot Stone Bath. – Here we can enjoy locally-owned the hot stone bath which can take 4 people at one time. Cost about 10 USD per person.

    Other places of interest:  Ugyen Pelri Thang

     ChhoetenLhakhang  Druk Choeding
     Dumtse Lhakhang

    A few options that can be pursued:
     Rent a bike and cycle around Paro

     Go to Gangtey Palace for Coffee Hotel in Paro : Metta Resort and Spa

    31 AUGUST : Paro – Singapore

    Elevation 2,280m | Weather in Paro

    Today we bid fond farewell to this beautiful country.

    This tour is a special pilgrimage that seeks to encourage a deeper experience of the land and its people. Meath Conlan from Australia is a Spiritual Director of 30 years’ experience and Margareta Lee from Singapore is a practicing Buddhist with deep wisdom and practical skills as a tour director.

    FLIGHTS from Singapore to Paro, Bhutan and return from Paro to Singapore included:

    25AUG     KB501     SIN-PBH     0630-1025

    31AUG     KB500     PBH-SIN     0720-1515

    Singapore-Kathmandu-Bangkok-Paro-Thimphu.

    Cost: S$4,000 (Singapore Dollars)

    The Total Package Cost will be Land Cost + Airfare

     The Total Package includes:

    1)      Visas

    2)      Return air tickets on Druk Air for SIN-PBH-SIN

    3)      A qualified & licensed English speaking guide

    4)      An experienced driver

    5)      A 4WD (Hyundai Sante Fe or Toyota Prado/Hyundai H1 or a Toyota Hiace Bus for group with 3 or more people)

    6)      All meals inclusive

    7)      Accommodation

    • 2 Nights at Namgay Heritage (4 star hotel)
    • 1 night at Dragon’s Nest (3 star hotel)
    • 1 Night at Dewachen (3 star hotel)
    • 3 nights at Tashi Namgay Resort (4 star hotel)

    *hotels are subject to availability

     8)      Taxes, surcharges, government contribution

    9)      Mineral water for the duration of the stay (foc)

    10)    Museum fees and other special entry fees 

    The package excludes:

    1)      Travel Insurance

    2)      Meals at 5 stars restaurants. Breakfast at 5 stars restaurant is included if you have booked a night at the hotel.

    3)      Tips for the guide and driver

    4)      Alcoholic drink

    5)      Expenditure of personal nature

    You can practically enter Bhutan expecting minimum expenses with this package as all costs have been included.

    For your visa application, we would need you to send us the following

    ·         A clear scanned copy of your passports

    ·         Occupation, address and contact numbers

     The government of Bhutan imposes a USD $65 per day royalty on each traveller to fund the education and health care services. This has been incorporated in the package cost.

    Further information can be obtained and all enquiries directed to:

    Dr Meath Conlan: meath@diversejourneys.com

    Margareta Lee: margareta.diverse@yahoo.com

     

Journey to Dhe-Tsang Monastery, Eastern Tibet – (late August, 2013)

Cultural & Spiritual Journey to Dhe-Tsang Monastery, Eastern Tibet - (late August, 2013)

Join Dr Meath Conlan of Australia and Margareta Lee of Singapore on a spiritually rewarding, culturally rich journey through Sichuan and Eastern Tibet. Dhe-tsang Monastery is situated in Maerkang County in Aba Tibetan Autonomous prefecture in southwest China’s Sichuan Province. Dhe-tsang Monastery’s full name is Gadan Dhe-tsang Lhundrup Ling, and was built in 1414 by Tsako Ngawang Drakpa, a close disciple of the 15th century master Je Tsong Khapa. Dhe-tsang is the second oldest monastery of the Gelugpa order of Tibetan Buddhism. At its height, Dhe-tsang Monastery housed over 1,000 monks practising and students.

The largest town near Dhe Tsang Monastery is Markam, which is in the Markam Prefecture of Aba County. From Markam to the Aba Prefecture (of Aba County) it is about 5 hours or so. Here there are monasteries and nunneries of Nyingma, Gelug, Kagyu, Sakya, Jonangpa, and the ancient pre-Buddhist Bonpo – all in one valley! Also we will see 40 meter tall stupas – that simply add to the extraordinary scenic and cultural possibilities of this little-visited region.

Sichuan is known as the “Land of Abundance” and has three places on the World Cultural and Natural Heritage List: Jiuzhaigou Scenic Area, Huang Long Valley (Yellow Dragon Valley) and Mount Emeishan including the Leshan Giant Buddha. Visitors to this province can experience a wide variety of beautiful landscapes, including plateaus, mountains, ravines, basins, hills, plains, rivers, lakes, hot springs, waterfalls and limestone caves. In addition, there are an abundance of important historic relics. Visitors to Sichuan also taste the spicy Sichuan Cuisine.

Jiuzhaigou is a deep valley of stunning natural beauty, approximately 620 square kilometers (240 square miles), located in north Sichuan. It is a national park and has also been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. The name Jiuzhaigou refers to the 9 Tibetan villages that are situated in the valley. The valley has a variety of natural scenery – lakes, waterfalls, snowy mountains and lush green forests. There are also more than 100 lakes of various sizes and shapes that sparkle with color in the flickering sunlight.

Huang Long Valley has some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. In 1992 it entered “China World Cultural and Natural Heritage List”. It covers an area of about 700 square kilometers (270 square miles) and has two parts: Huang Long and Muni Gorge.

Huang Long has unique scenery, rich natural resources and a primeval forest. The majestic and unrivaled emerald-coloured lakes, layered waterfalls, colorful forests, snow peaks and Tibetan folk villages blend harmoniously into the mountains and sparkle like jewels. Huang Long is known as a “mountain fairyland.”

Expressions of interest are welcomed. The full itinerary and cost will be posted very soon.

Visit: www.meathconlan.com

Contact: meath@meathconlan.com

New Book! Featuring Khejok Rinpoche & The Desert Elders

New Book! Inter-spiritual Journey with Khejok Rinpoche & The Desert Elders

A new book by author Meath Conlan, PhD to be published in 2013. This book takes select teachings of a modern-day Buddhist Master and attempts to show how common ground of inter-spiritual wisdom can be found between his aphorisms or sayings and teachings from the early Christian centuries (250 AD to Late Roman Antiquity). Khejok Tulku Rinpoche is one of the diminishing numbers of “old teachers” in the Tibetan Tradition. Born in the 1930s, he is regarded as an incarnation of a renowned lama from the 5th Dalai Lama’s time. As a boy he was recognised and installed as Abbot of the second oldest monastery in the Gelugpa tradition of Tibetan Buddhism – Dhe Tsang Monastery, in Eastern Tibet. Khejok Rinpoche crossed the Himalayas and eventually came to Australia in 1986. He established centres dedicated to the learning and practice of Buddhism in the Gelug lineage. Meath Conlan, a student of the late Dom Bede Griffiths, met Rinpoche in 1988. The two men have become firm friends, having travelled together to Christian and Buddhist Monasteries in Tibet, India, Nepal and Australia. Throughout the book, original drawings, taken from the author’s field notebooks during his travels in Tibet and Nepal, will add interest to the readings contained in this book. For further information please contact: meath@meathconlan.com

Journey to Bhutan and Nepal: September – October, 2013

Cultural Journey to The Kingdom of Bhutan and Nepal

(September – October, 2013 – * a date to be confirmed – * expressions of interest welcomed)

Join Meath Conlan of Australia and Margareta Lee of Singapore on a spiritually rewarding, culturally rich journey through the Kingdom of Bhutan and Nepal. Be touched by Bhutan’s ever-changing skies beneath which climb the eternal mountains in shimmering colours of valley-greens, glistening snow-whites, the red roofs of ancient thick-walled Buddhist monasteries and the polka-dots of small peaceful villages scattered throughout. Take in the alluring scents of village-markets, and be welcomed by the deep spiritual history and animated Buddhist culture of this ancient Himalayan region. Travel through the charming towns of the Bhutanese Plains to picturesque pilgrim-monasteries along the sacred rivers of these Eastern Himalayan foothills. Enjoy tranquil monastic gardens, scintillating bazaars, and the excitement of local festivals that honour the gods. Our Bhutanese journey is a wonderful way of exploring this unique and largely unexplored Buddhist Kingdom in a small-group setting with like-minded travelers ready to explore new spiritual and cultural adventures. Nepal will be similar in many ways, though this is a country that has been through vast upheavals in recent years. Yet the people and the landscape remain the same – ever fascinating mountains and valleys, forests and wilderness.

The philosophy of spiritual Bhutan is a celebration of the sanatana dharma or Universal and Fundamental Law of our human nature, through the honoring of the human person. In this remote valley-culture they have made a virtue of declaring Happiness as their ultimate Gross National Product. This is beautifully represented in the multiple art forms, architecture and spiritual teachings as represented in Mahayana Buddhism. Here, in sight of ‘Father Himalaya’, we will bring unity to our bodies, minds and spirits. Daily, through our understanding and practice of meditation, we will purify and rejuvenate our bodies and minds. Ascending the mountain valleys, we lift our spirits to new heights, feeling at one with our surroundings.

Our journey of exploration brings us to some of the sacred temples and monasteries, divine and majestic peaks, hidden green valleys and crystal clear river waters of Bhutan. Witnessing this from close quarters provides us with an opportunity to surrender to the serenity that embraces us.

To help us enjoy all the wonders of Bhutan and Nepal in a true and authentic way, we have carefully selected beautiful standard properties for our accommodation.

Journey with Dr Meath Conlan and Margareta Lee on this trip of a lifetime and let yourself be happily surprised by this diverse and mysterious land. Come! Explore and immerse yourself in the Bhutanese experience that will cause your soul to be touched, moved and inspired.

MEATH CONLAN, Ph.D.

Dr. Meath Conlan, an adult-educator and spiritual counsellor, is Australian-born, residing for most of the year in Perth, Western Australia. He has wide experience of diverse cultural backgrounds and ethnicities. His mentor and friend of many years was the late Bede Griffiths, an English Benedictine, who, for over thirty years, resided in and taught at Saccidananda Ashram, Shantivanam, in South India. While living with him, Meath’s outlook and sensitivity expanded to embrace a tolerant and inclusive understanding of diverse philosophies and spiritual traditions. Meath has been a leader in inter-religious dialogue for many years, having, at the invitation of H. H. The Dalai Lama, delivered a series of lectures since the late 1980’s in Western Contemplation and Philosophy to Tibetan Buddhist Monks and Nuns in Himachal Pradesh. Meath is the author of the book, “Bede Griffiths: Friend & Gift of the Spirit”, 2006, Templegate, Il.

MARGARETA LEE                                                                                                 Margareta, who was instrumental in establishing both the Institute of Buddhist Learning and Practices (Singapore), and the Kalachakra Buddhist Society, is a student of Tibetan Doctor and Lama H.E. Khejok Rinpoche since 1992, H.H. Khensur Rinpoche Ngawang Thekchok since 1994, and H.H. the Ninth Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa Rinpcohe since 1999. She is a much-travelled convener of spiritual journeys throughout Buddhist South East Asia, and an accredited and licensed Agent in the real estate industry in Singapore. Margareta is not new to exploring the varied and captivating horizons throughout the spiritually rich and diverse cultures of Asia. Margareta brings to our tours, her unusual gifts of focus and organisation, as well as many personal local connections. She thus enables us to broaden our understanding of spirituality. Margareta has developed many close connections throughout Buddhist S. E. Asia, which help our tours to be instructive and exciting potential avenues for building friendships between people of many nations, ethnicities, traditions and professions. Margareta and Meath have been friends for over a decade. They have enjoyed voyages of discovery in Tibet and India. Margareta may be contacted by email: margareta_assets@yahoo.com.sg

Our Daily Program will include: Meditation instruction and practice (with a published work-book by Dr Conlan for each person), and yoga-nidra (deep relaxation) exercise.

During our journey Inter-faith Readings will include selections from the Buddhist Dhammapada, as well as several Buddhist mystics. These will be sources of inspiration throughout our journey. Individual Spiritual Direction (spiritual counselling) with Meath Conlan is available throughout this retreat-journey..

Diverse Journeys offers various opportunities for experiencing the culture and spirituality of South India. In the coming year we are excited to present a number of spiritual journeys. Dr Meath Conlan invites you to peruse our spiritual journey offerings and see if you or your friends may like to join us for one of these special opportunities.

“Your desire to make this trip to India successful for the Elliott Family was reflected in the time you devoted to organizing all the details in this very foreign land. We felt cocooned and protected from all the inefficiencies and small disasters that can be part of the Indian experience. It all went like clock-work. The whole experience more than met my expectations, and this is because of all the work and effort you put into our trip Meath. I will be talking widely about the experience . . .  I will be recommending you as the master of ceremonies. Thanks again mate.”

Herb Elliott, AC., MBE.  Olympic Athlete, Australia

Meditation and Quiet Reflection

Diverse Journeys has a unique combination of cultural and spiritual experiences in one of the friendliest and most relaxed regions of the world. Yes, there’ll be time for shopping among the colourful bazaars and markets throughout the journey. But there will also be plenty of time for solo and group meditation as well as quiet reflection.

For most days, there will be opportunities for interreligious learning as well as Deep Relaxation (yoga nidra), and Meditation (Dhyana).

Sacred Spaces and Friendships

In Asia every day is special and potentially exciting. The ordinary, everyday colours, sounds, tastes and smells of this ‘Island of the Gods’, when experienced with a few others, provide terrific opportunities for building lasting friendships.

Talks and Discussion

As participants on Diverse Journeys are mostly adults, there will be opportunities for general sharing (on a completely voluntary basis) so that individuals may grow in new knowledge and integration.

For further information: contact – Dr Meath Conlan (meath@diversejourneys.com – or – meath@meathconlan.com)

The Art of Seeing Things as They Are

Mini E-Course of seven DAILY lessons

Anchoring The Mind: The Practice of Mindfulness Meditation

Lesson Seven: The Art of Seeing Things as They Are

Welcome to the consideration of these brief points in, “Anchoring the Mind: The Practice of Mindfulness Meditation”. Some of this material will be included in a new book to be published later next year.

Seeing Things as They Are

  • Seeing things “as they are,” moment-by-moment – helps untangle knots of attachment, fear, and confusion.
  • Addictive behaviours: craving pleasure, aversion from discomfort and pain, and tuning out from the neutral experience.
  • These need not be the ultimate ground of your daily life.

Becoming Clear

  • Once the fruits of our addictions become clear – as attachments, fears and confusions – we will, if we choose, be able to live more from a place of joy, wisdom, compassion, and equanimity.

The Simple Rule of the Four “R”s

  • Resist no thought
  • Retain no thought
  • React emotionally to no thought
  • Return to the breath

Thank you for participating for this mini e-course of seven daily lessons. I have enjoyed putting the material together for you and hope that you have derived benefit from reading and reflecting on it. There are other free mini e-courses on my website, www.diversejourneys.com – which I encourage you to visit and explore when you have time.

Point for Consideration: Take time today to become gently aware of the three areas of potential addictive reactions in your life:

  • craving pleasure, 
  • aversion from discomfort and pain, and 
  • tuning out from the neutral (boring) experience.

Make an effort today to learn the Rule of the “Four R’s”

What Diverse Journeys Can Do For You:

Contact Diverse Journeys to discuss ways we can help you or your organization focus on the importance of spirituality in daily life. We can conduct live, on-site events, meditation courses, seminars and personal or group spiritual counselling. We can work with you or another designate to assure a high level of involvement using stimulating presentations and interactive team challenges. Dr Conlan travels to North America, Europe and Asia, and is ready to work with you in setting up a tailor-made program in your area. Additionally Diverse Journeys conducts spiritual journeys to significant ashrams and spiritual centres in India, Thailand, Nepal, Tibet and various other locales throughout the world.

Dr Meath Conlan is a spiritual counsellor (Spiritual Director) of many years’ experience. He accepts online applicants and will conduct 50 minute online sessions through Skype. For more information, his email: meath@diversejourneys.com

Call - (+61) 408 080 560 (cell) or go to the website: www.DiverseJourneys.com