Bhutan Homestay can be an uplifting and soul enrichening. It exudes a strong sense of the old ways. There are so much to see and do in your Bhutan Home Stay. If you do not have much time to explore Bhutan but if you want to experience authentic Bhutan culture, then you got to try out an authentic homestay . I am here to share the best part of my Bhutan Cultural Tour Package experience at Ugyen homestay at Haa Valley.
Bhutan itself is a slice of dropped heaven. And the journey to Haa valley is scenic. All along you will be accompanied by tall hemlocks, soaring mountains and crispy air. Make sure that you stop at Chelela pass (Bhutan’s Highest Motorable Pass) . From here you can enjoy the grand view of Jomolhari Mountain and Paro valley.
The journey from Paro to Haa take about one and half hour. Although we took longer because I made several stops along the way to watch small herds grazing or to admire pink and red rhododendron blossoms sprinkled over the landscape. We even spotted Black Pheasant unser some bushes.
Different people travel with different motives. I travel to discover a part of myself, part of the unexplored earth, to meet new people and understand their culture. It makes me see the world through different eyes.
So to penetrate through their mystic culture, I wanted to include a homestay in our itinerary with a local family. I did some research and finally decided to try out at Ugyen Homestay at Haa and accordingly my tour operator Bhutan Best Inbound Tour did the needful.
Ugyen Village Homestay is located in the heart of the Haa valley under the silhouette of three Majestic Hills. These 3 mountains are believed to represent 1. Jampelyang (Manjushri-God of Wisdom), 2. Chana Dorji (Vajrapani-The God of Power and 3. Chenrizi (Avaloketeshvara-God of Compassion).
Experience at Homestay in Haa Bhutan
As soon as we reached , we were greeted by Mr. Ugyen, our host. He helped us to carry our baggage. Ugyen’s farmhouse is more than 200 years old and has survived seven generation. It is built in the traditional Bhutanese style typically seen all over Bhutan.
We were to take off the shoes before entering our Bhutan Homestay. The house was well maintained, very neat. It is an exceptionally large home displaying some fine features of days gone.
We were taken to our rooms; the room was immaculate; well polished and our beds were arranged on floor. The room was warm despite the harsh cold winter. There is an attached toilet with warm water flow but there is no shower facility. Never the less the amenities provided and available was much more than what I expected from a home stay. And the view of the mountains from our room was spectacular.
We were asked to freshen up and later invited to their kitchen for tea. We were offered white tea. Bhutanese white milk tea is made in a unique way(Less sugar less tea leaves but lots of milk)and the local calls it Oja .And they do not offer you just a cup of tea but the flask of tea (5Ltrs), which the host keep on filling up your glass till you seriously say ‘No More’. And along with the tea they offer you some of the typical Bhutanese snacks like wheat flour,beaten rice and Zaw.
Things To Do in Homestay in Haa Bhutan
We have reached Haa just one day before Lolay( Haap’s New Year). The Kitchen was full of activities. Every one in the family were engaged in making of Hoentoe (Haap’s Dumpling). It was amazing to watch 3 generation of people happily involved in making of Hoentoe.
How to make Hoentoe
Hoentoe is a buckwheat dumpling stuffed with assortment of ingredients that include dried spinach or turnip leave, butter, cottage cheese, ginger and clove garlic. It can be either steamed or fried. Hoentoes are usually eaten with ezay, a chili paste made from local dried chilies.
Cook Turnip leaves or spinach for 20 minutes
Strain and keep it aside
Mix the above mentioned ingredient with strained turnip
Pour heated butter over the ingredients
Make dough out of buckwheat and roll into round shape
Add table spoon of the mixed ingredients onto the dough and fold in shape of dumpling
Steam for 15 minutes
Serve it with ezay
Ritual Cake Making
And there was also a monk who was engage in making ritual cake. Ritual cake is locally called as Torma. It is usually hand molded and colored with dyes. It is the offering made to the deity.
Other Activities to Do in Homestay
After the tea we went around to check out places. They have a small place dedicated for us to try out local archery match or Khuru. It was a good Bhutan Cultural experience for us. Mr. Ugyen owns 26 no of cows, 13 horses and 56 nos of Yak. So I teasingly told him that he is a rich man and his reply was ‘In today’s generation richness depends on account balance and not on no of cows’. Mr. Ugyen is friendly and lovable guy.
You can also try out milking cow or lend your hand in Butter or local Tea making.
We also tried Herbal hot stone bath which was rejuvenating.
After the bath we were served typical Bhutanese Food which would be a good thing to try though many may not find it delicious. But we simply love it.Dried Pork,Dried Turnips,Ema Datshi, Ezay , butter tea,fried cheese has somehow blend in with our taste pallet.
As we were having the dinner ,Mr. Ugyen had lot of stories to tell .
We woke up with the crowing of the cock . It was 6 am but the activity of the day had already begun. We are not really a morning person but we somehow got up as we wanted to join Mr. Ugyen in milking the cow. My daughter really enjoyed it and it was something she has not seen before.It was soul enriching experience as it will not only help you to penetrate through Bhutan Culture but will also give you an opportunity to see life through different aspect.
Other Bhutan cultural tours experience in Haa Valley
Haa Valley has many other things to offer other than home stay. Just outside Ugyen home stay, the Meri Punsum Walking trail begins. Another few minutes walk from the home stay will take you to White Temple and another 15 minutes will take you to black temple . There are lots of myths and history behind each temple. Visiting Haa would definitely add value to your Bhutan Cultural Tours.
You can also visit monks at hill to and witness how they find happiness in simple life.
Haa Valley is full of mystery. The villages reminds of the time gone and greenness everywhere. A beautiful place to visit where the earth meets the heaven.
So if you want to experience Bhutan culture in your short stay then I recommend to add homestay in your Bhutan Tour.
Top 3 Bhutan Homestay
In almost all the places in Bhutan, the home stay are available. Some of Bhutan top homestay includes:
Leki Om Homestay in Punakha
Located in picturesque village of Talo, Punakha, Leki Wangmo homestay offers beautiful views of Punakha valley. They have a beautiful Kitchen garden outside the house, from where Mrs. Leki will pick up fresh organic vegetables and cook for you. From here you can stroll to nearby village (Laptshakha / Nobgang ) or go on a short hikes. The place is blessed with variance of birds. The rooms are well equipped with attached bathroom. If you want to enjoy the quaint ambiance of village life , this is the right Bhutan homestay for you. Your host Ms. Leki Wangmo is a warm and you wouldn’t leave disappointed.
2.Tshering Farm House at Paro Dopshari.
Tshering Farmhouse is located in beautiful valley of Dopsari, Paro. It is a 100 year old farmhouse in Paro and has been passed over generation. It is about 3Kms away from the main Paro town. Tshering Homestay is surrounded by lush natural beauty and picturesque views of the mountains.
The farmhouse is famous for it delicious Bhutanese meals. The vegetables served come usually from their garden. Organic & Healthy. It is also another typical Bhutanese homestay designed in a traditional way . The beds are arranged on floors , the stairs are of another time & there is a big room dedicated for Altar.
At Tshering Farmhouse, you can choose to rejuvenate yourself by plunging into hot stone bath or try a hand on local archery. Or just soak yourself in the calmness of nature
3. Dorjibee Homestay in Bumthang
Dorjibi homestay , Bumthang is located in the midst of apple orchard, close to Tamshing monastery . You can enjoy the comfort of rooms with attached bathrooms, heaters and hot water. You will take your meals in the large kitchen of the family home. This is the perfect option for people who want to spend a night in a comfortable farmhouse & experience authentic Bhutanese rural life.
Dorjibi Weaving Centre is located nearby, where you can visit and watch the local women art of weaving. There are also some beautiful hiking trails around the home stay
Contributed by : Mr. Seal