Zhingkham Resort sits high on a hill, overlooking the Punakha Valley, where from my room, I finally get what my guide, Phuntsho, was describing – Punakha Dzong, the religious and winter government administrative building, is built on a piece of delta shaped like the nose of an elephant, flanked on both sides by tusks, that of the flowing male and female river. Behind, the hump of the mountains give rise to the head and body of the elephant.
In Bhutan, the elephant is one of the four harmonic animals, where on his body rests an ape with a rabbit atop its head, which in turn has a bird on its head, reaching easily for the peach on the tree for which they are resting next to. This picture of harmony is captured in sculpture, paintings and embroidery, and displayed to bring peace and harmony to the home or work place.
From my balcony, the mountain ranges stretches across the canvass, hiding intermittently behind veils of clouds drifting lazily admist blue summer sky. It’s June and I feel the warmth of the sun on my skin, yet the air I breathe in has the cool crispness of fresh oxygen I often miss back home in humid Singapore.
I watch as school children, in their olive green uniform, a traditional Bhutanese dress – knee length gho for boys and ankle length kiras for girls, walk the zigzag path uphill past the resort, to their school higher up, carrying modern backpacks and plastic container of lunch.
The forty-room resort is fully occupied with two Singaporean tour groups, a PRC group of three and Indian families. Electricity is erratic, which means my phone drains battery just searching for weak Wi-Fi.
Breakfast this morning was late to serve – a continental buffet of toasts, sunny side eggs and ham slices. There’s additional chapati sandwich with dahl, cereal and green bananas. It’s a poor contrast to dinner buffet last night with a wider selection, of chicken, fried bitter gourd, stir fried peas and pork, bringal, mushroom soup and Bhutanese red rice.
The bedroom is equipped with shampoo and lotion but no tissue paper. We ignored the aircon and opted for the ceiling fan to sleep. The king bed was firm with four thick pillows and warm quilt. Shower was strong and hot/cold water easily adjustable – I just turned both taps to their extreme.
As the chalets are built on hills, you need to climb plenty of stairs to reach your room, which might not be suitable for the elderly or disabled, unless the hotel porters – two petite girls – can carry them, like how they hauled our heavy luggages, one in each hand, up the stairs for us, making the men in my group gasped in awe.
Unfortunately, as this is a transit point for us, we spent only a night here, making this stay all the more memorable.