The first stop was at the stupa on the way into the Phobjikha Valley as this was a scene in the “Travelers and Magicians” movie. After taking a few photos we headed over the 3420m Pele La pass and stopped at Chendebeji, 27km to the East. This took one hour to traverse, given the windy, hilly narrow roads connecting the towns in Bhutan.
Chendebeji is a large white stupa modeled after the Swayambhunath in Katmandu and was built in the 19th century by a Tibetan Lama to ward off evil spirits. The next 41km to Trongsa would take 90 minutes to travel. We stopped half way there at a look out directly across the valley from the Trongsa Dzong. This dzong was the longest one that we would see, hugging the top and side of the hill, and looked very impressive from our vantage point. We still had 45 minutes to go to get to Trongsa despite the seemingly close distance across the other side of the valley.
This was our lunch spot with a mixture of Nepalese dumplings and Bhutanese food, in the VIP Room!
After lunch we visited the dzong, built in the 16th century and which had a strategic position overlooking the valleys below. Historically, the trail connecting Eastern aa\nd Western Bhutan ran right through the dzong, with the result that all who passed had to pay a tax (some things never change!).
Like the other dzongs we visited, Trongsa is a administrative center for the region and is the winter residence of Trongsa monastic body that summers in Bumthang.
We continued for the next two and half hours to Bumthang, stopping at the Weaving Center 30 minutes west of the town to look at the weavings and other souvenirs for sale. Most of these weavings were very expensive, costing many hundreds of dollars. However, there were some interesting tourist souvenirs of traditional clothing and footwear that made for some memorable photos.