The Royal Academy

There was much excitement and planning days before the Nature Retreat. Everyone was excited because they could sense that the retreat was going to be an adventurous and memorable one.

On the morning of 26th of October, all of us scrambled to get our belongings and quickly got into the school bus. Yes!!! We were finally leaving for the trek and all of us beyond excited. We passed the beautiful Dochula, which was our first stop. The picturesque view took our breath away. We could even see a bird’s eye view of our destination, Gasa from there. Nestled on one of the far away hills, Gasa looked beautiful. On the way, we stopped for lunch at the Botanical Garden and the beauty and tranquility of the garden made us enjoy our lunch even more. After enjoying the lunch beside a small lake, we spent some time exploring the area, admiring the diverse flora. We also visited the museum and then soon were on our way.

We soon reached Punakha and set up our camps near a river at Zomlingthang. The girls then got busy to prepare dinner while the boys pitched tents. We set up a warm bonfire and after a delicious dinner, crept into bed, tired. The next day saw all of us very excited and enthusiastic. It was our trek to Lake Kabjee Hoko Tsho that all of us were looking forward to. We left the camp at 8 in the morning, met our guide on the way and set off for the lake. The trek uphill was challenging but all of us heaved uphill slowly with determination. Our walk up through the secluded and silent forest was rewarded when we found plenty of edible mushrooms. All of us began collecting them, and dinner plans were made then and there. As we climbed up, we rested under the shade of a tree that had a history; it was the same tree that had sheltered the six boys who had come to the lake years ago and had never returned home except for one of them. Strange and mysterious!!! After a few minutes, we reached our destination. What lay before us was something that cannot be described in words. Lake Kabjee Hoko Tsho welcomed us with its clear, cold, shimmering water. We took a deep sigh as we looked at the huge expanse of serene water, and each one of us was spellbound. It was ‘Paradise’. The guide related interesting stories about the lake, which aroused the interest in all of us. We even hoped to see the mystical mermaid as the guide talked about the legend surrounding the mermaid in the lake. After having our lunch and spending some quality time, we descended to our bus. That night, around the bon fire, we retold stories related to some strange experiences we had near the lake. Yes, there was definitely something mystical about that beautiful lake. We went to bed with memories of the wonderful day.

On the third day, we started our journey towards Gasa early in the morning. It was a rough but lovely ride. On the way, we stopped for lunch. By 2 PM, we were at our destination, a picturesque area a little above the hot springs. We pitched our tents and then the boys and girls took turns going to soak themselves at the hot springs. This was another wonderful new experience for most of us as we lay in the hot pool, drifting into tranquil sleep. We thought of how fortunate we were to be there. The children learnt a lot about the hot springs and their excitement knew no bounds. The next day too was spent happily at the springs and everyone was thoroughly satisfied. A few of us even trekked about 100 meters above the springs to a quiet place where we could get our sinus and nose problems treated naturally.

The next day was another exciting day as we made our way up to the Dzong, the town and an ancient 8th Century Lhakhang. What we learnt and saw in these places will remain in our hearts forever. It was too good to be true. We had our lunch near another smaller lake beside the Dzong. Soon we returned to our camps where some of us rested while others went for a dip to the springs again. We must mention that Jigme Om, one of our students in the group, had her uncle visit us and speak to us. He shared stories about the place, the mountains and the springs, which enriched our cultural knowledge.

The next day, we all felt sad to bid good-bye to the lovely place. Each of us agreed that this experience would hold a special chapter in our lives. A wonderful Journey had come to an end and as we drove home to Pangbisa, we were thoroughly satisfied, extremely happy and there was a grateful smile on each of our lips. An event to be cherished for life!!!