The majority of the WWF Bhutan office set out for an overnight adventure in the Royal Botanical Park on Wednesday afternoon. The drive took about 2.5 hours along a winding mountain road. At the top of the peaks sits a monastery known as Dochula. Dochula was erected in 2003 as a gift to the gods to help protect the Bhutanese Royal Army when they flushed out militant members of an Indian group hiding in the forests. The main monastery is surrounded by 108 chortels to enhance the protective powers. We stopped here & were greeted by a bonfire, tea & biscuits. There is nothing like sitting on a mountaintop, surrounded by evergreen forests, sipping tea & reflecting on the tranquil powers of Buddhism.
We arrived at the Park 45 minutes later & the rangers quickly set-up camp. Shortly after arrival the Country Representative (the head of the office, Kinjay) brought out oro &Johnnie Walker whiskey. Oro is a local drink they refer to as “wine” but is really more like 80 proof moonshine. It is typically served heated, occasionally with an egg poached in it. Kinjay had prepared this batch himself & included coricepts in it. Coricepts are a mealworm like creature that gets impregnated with a fungus that eventually kills it & grows into a vegetable protuberance. It is highly revered & very expensive as it is used in traditional Chinese & Bhutanese “medicines.” They were added just for us (Jan, Ute & myself), so we had to try it. I figured my mouth was still tingling from all the chilies we had for dinner.. why not go for the whole Bhutanese experience!