Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Journey to Merak and Sakteng: Day 3 - Trekking from Merak to Sakteng (Part 2)

Descending rough stones path - Trekking to Sakteng, Bhutan

The trekking day to Sakteng (2.950m):

Miksateng to Sakteng
14KM | 5 HOURS | 81M ASCENT | 310M DESCENT | CAMP ALT 2,950M

Descend to the river, crossing it and then following the river bank for few hours, you will climb gradually to a hill adorned by small Chorten (Stupa) overlooking the Sakteng valley. If you are lucky, you can spot red panda among the trees. Descend down from the ridge and camp on the outskirts of the Sakteng village at 2,950m.
(Source info: TrekkinginBhutan.com)

Luckily we had refilled our energy back after the first half of the trekking. At 1.20 pm we departed the temporary resting place and moved on our journey to Sakteng. We had to mostly trek descended down from where we were and passed through the rough stones - big and small in size. For me, it looked more like the path of river full of stones, yet without water. We had to walk carefully yet fast, as not to sprain our ankles through the journey. K had a hard time going through it. His right knee was terribly in pain as he had to put on hold each of his step with such heavy load on his back. Sorry Kipchu...

More stones - big and small - to pass through - Trekking to Sakteng, Bhutan

We were also not very sure if that was the only way that we could pass. I mean, based on the info provided by the website, it seemed that the rest of our journey was mostly going down but they did not give details on how the road would look like. Yet, we followed our intuition... 

Beautiful flowers we found along the way :)

As we kept walking, slowly we found the flowers at the side. The colors were beautiful. We almost thought (with hoping) that it was blue poppy, which was not. My friend said blue poppy could only be found in summer time. It's ok. We still enjoyed their beautiful shapes and colors :)

Rhododendrons everywhere :)

Like I mentioned before, we passed through many blossomed Rhododendrons along our way. K picked one and told me that we could eat it. It was believed that it had many health benefits if consuming it. Well, since they believed so, I gave it a try. He cleaned one and passed it to me. Hmm.... I just felt weird eating flowers... hehehe.. not used to it. He threw it after, saying it was not nice, a bit bitter. So I followed :P

Renakpo Zampa - The first typical wooden bridge in Merak to Sakteng trekking path :)

We were so delighted when we first found a source of water by the roadside. Our drinking water supply had diminished by the time we saw it. We refilled our water bottle there and nearby, we found the first typical wooden bridge that we would find again and again on our trekking path. K mentioned that his King and Queen visited Merak and Sakteng too 2 years ago and he saw both of them took photo at one of the bridges they passed by. Please find His Majesty's picture from his Facebook's page:

His Majesty and Queen walked on the wooden bridge on trekking path from Merak to Sakteng, Bhutan

We took some rest on the bridge, had the chocolate to boost up our energy. K was tired from the bags he carried and still suffered the pain on his right knee. After some time, we moved on and found the beautiful view below :)

Mesmerizing view on trekking path from Merak to Sakteng, Bhutan

Resting and enjoying the beautiful view :)

Yak herding area :)

Yak with beautiful surrounding :)

We kept walking and finally found the Miksateng Campsite as mentioned from the website we read. There were two house-like buildings with many opened air place with wooden rooftop that could be used for bonfire, etc. Stone walls surrounded the area - to prevent animals to get in - with wooden ladder provided to enter the area. 

Finally we reached Miksateng Campsite, Bhutan

The journey continued. We walked descending down following the sound of the river on our right side. It led us to another wooden bridge called Bamugpa Zampa.

Bamugpa Zampa - Beautiful trekking path from Merak to Sakteng, Bhutan

Beautiful river view :)

After so long, we finally met people in our journey. Hahaha... We were happy to see them. We could ask them too if we were in the right way to Sakteng. They said yes, and it only took us about an hour to reach. Well, never believe local people when they said that, because their speed and our speed were very much different :D

The only group of people we met throughout our trekking from Merak to Sakteng, Bhutan

From there, we entered into the forest-like pathway and passed many typical wooden bridges. We both were  tired and had to constantly feed ourselves with snacks that we brought - almond nuts, chocolates, and kumquat pickles - to boost up our energy level. We also stopped few times to take a break while enjoying the beautiful view surrounding us.

Entering forest view - Trekking path from Merak to Sakteng, Bhutan

It started drizzling. We had to stop and wear the raincoat before continuing our journey. Lucky it was just a small one. And as we saw the Chorten (Stupa) mentioned by the website quoted above, we both were very happy!!! It meant that we would reach Sakteng soon!!! We circumambulated the Stupa and conveyed our prayer once again, feeling very grateful for everything that we encountered so far.

Chorten (Stupa) near to Sakteng :)

And how excited we were upon looking at the Sakteng village from afar. Our battery started to go down so low hahaha... Therefore, the view made us happy again :D Not for long though, because the road kept descending down to the lowest level where the river was located. K walked far ahead before me. His knee was killing him.

Sakteng view from afar... There was our destination!!!!

Wooohhooooo!!!! Finally we went down the river there. 

Reaching our destination soon :) Sakteng, Bhutan

Not reaching quite yet... We still had to cross many bridges over the small rivers to reach Sakteng.

Stony path - Finding bridges to cross many rivers at Sakteng, Bhutan

One of many bridges we had to cross :) Sakteng, Bhutan

Once we reached the land area at around 6.10 pm (after almost 5 hours of walk), K was asking the people there where we could stay. He led us to the Sakteng Campsite, located next to the Police office in Sakteng. We had to walk quite far to reach. And we were so disappointed that it was only locked empty buildings with no water facilities, and no one in the vicinity who was in charge of the place. 

Sakteng Campsite - Sakteng, Bhutan

We both were very tired and the sky got darker. K had to ask people who lived not far from the Campsite on where we could find any home-stay in the area. Luckily they said that there was one just near the school We had to walk all the way back with torches in our hand. The road was not smooth and we had to cross many small sewer. Many cows', yaks' or horses' dung occupied the path too. Dogs were howling noisily. The place was so dark with only few lights being turned on by villagers. 

We finally reached a place where the villager told us about. It was a house of one room containing kitchen and bed. Next to it, there was a grocery shop, also belong to the home-stay owner. A couple with their grown up son (named Leki). and still very young daughter were inside. K asked them about the available room. In a while, Leki told us the charge for a night was Nu 300, and if we wanted to have dinner prepared by them, it would cost us Nu 150 per pax. We requested the dinner from them as we both were very tired from the journey and had no energy to prepare dinner for ourselves. He also showed us our room, which turned out to be quite a big and cosy room for us. Toilet was shared and located outside. I was definitely feeling very relieved to see the room condition. 

We put our bags inside the room, washed our face, hands, and legs. I bought mineral water and soap from the grocery shop. The prices were all doubled from what you usually bought outside. In such remote area, we could not expect much, could we? Leki came to our room bringing a pot of tea with 2 cups. We had it in our room. In a while, he came informing us that dinner was ready.

At the home-stay owner's kitchen cum bedroom - Preparing our dinner for the day :) Sakteng, Bhutan

Our dinner at Sakteng, Bhutan :)

We went down to the kitchen cum bedroom. They prepared a plastic table with two chairs for us to sit while they all sat down on the floor surrounding the bukhari. They served us rice,vermicelli with lots of garlic in big chunks and dried beef, saag (bitter vegetable), and Western style mushroom soup. We ate until we were feeling full and then returned back to our room. The weather and water were equally cold so I skipped taking a bath and did it the next morning. Soon, we hid inside the warm blankets and had a good night sleep....

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