“Great things never came from comfort zones,” read a quote in the hotel lobby where I was put up during my trip to Bhutan. I had contemplated much about this trip. I had cancelled my tickets once, simply because I had not wanted to get out of my comfort bubble—the trip included many treks, which I personally was not very fond of.
However, after much deliberation, I decided to go ahead and book my tickets. And here I was, waiting for the cab to take me to the renowned Taktsang Palphug Monastery in the picturesque Paro Valley. From Ramthangkha, the base point, the monastery looked like a tiny speck of white dust. And the path unwinding and steep.
For a couch potato like me, a trek uphill seemed impossible. In fact, this was the first time in my adult life that I was hiking. The last time I trekked was back in my school days. And trust me I did not enjoy the experience. I looked at my guide with a sad face that spoke volumes about how reluctant I was to make the trek. But I had no other go. I had woken up early and travelled quite a distance to reach the basepoint on a cold winter morning. And, now if I didn’t climb the hill, it would be a waste of time and energy. Moreover, by hiking, I wouldn’t be losing anything. In fact, it would be one of those times, when I finally would have got out of my comfort zone. So, I decided to go ahead with the plan.
The five-km trek uphill began in the luscious pine forests. Birds chirped at a distance, accompanied by the sound of prayer bells at a distance. In the first leg of the journey, I took many water breaks, exchanged pleasantries with fellow climbers. As we hiked further, the path became steeper, making it a difficult climb. After a point, my legs were ready to give up, and I was huffing and puffing for breath. I wanted to go back. When I looked down, I realised that I had already covered quite a distance. Somewhere, deep down, I was happy about the progress I had made so far. It pushed me to scale further. I set small targets for myself and covered the rest of the distance.
I finally reached a point where I could get a glimpse of the monastery. It was surreal. Taktsang Palphug resembled a white castle adjoining the mountains, sitting in a treacherous position. From this point onwards, I enjoyed walking in the forest, with the cold wind sweeping the curls off my face, and kissing my cheeks. At the end of the trail was a stairway that led to a waterfall. And from there we climbed another flight of stairs to the monastery. At this point, I felt the journey wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.