RAFTING IN PUNAKHA: WHAT HAPPENED WHEN I JUMPED IN THE MIDDLE OF THE RIVER!

MY CO TRAVELER Dipanjan just did it. It was tempting and I was itching to do it too. We were in the middle of the swelling river when Dipanjan jumped all of a sudden, holding on to the rope and his dear life.

“Guys, I wanna do it too!” I protested

“No you are not doing it”, they said in a chorus.

This was repeated 3 to 4 times.

“Please, please , please!”

“OK, fine go ahead, just hold the rope very tightly!”

“Can someone click my pictures while I am doing it?”

“No, if you want to do it for the pictures we are not!”

“Fine, chuck it, I will do it anyways!”

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The starting point of our rafting session!

I bought few seconds of pause, making sure IF I REALLY WANT TO DO IT? Not reaching any conclusion, I finally jumped in, safety vest intact! Someone screamed crocodile seconds before I jumped! As soon as I jumped, the water pushed and pulled me violently, nothing was in my control except a tight grip on the rope. Though I knew there were no crocodiles in the river, somehow my primal fear made me imagine a croc will pull me in and swallow me whole in next few minutes. Fear is the oldest and strongest emotion of mankind; most of it imagined! I stopped running my imagination wild!  Within moments, I started to enjoy the dip in the deep river. I don’t know swimming and yet I did not want to come out. One person from the boat held my rope tight as I tried to find some balance in the rough river. My co-travelers cheered me on, much of which was lost on me, thanks to the chaos of the choppy waters.

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Our group! (Pic: Dipanshu Goyal)

After few minutes of gasping for breath, I signaled my group leader to pull me in the boat. It was the first time I tried white water rafting and what an experience it was. After a long time I felt alive. Of all the genres of travel, adventure is my true love.

Our rafting began on a calm note. We were taken to a location where the water was not rough. After a round of instructions (which I uselessly perfected only in the last 5 minutes), we readied ourselves for an adventurous morning! It was fun for me because I had never attempted rafting before. Our raft moved up and down as we passed through flags fluttering in scenic hills, kids playing in a distance and our tent by the river.

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Me at our camp side. We spent the night here chatting and laughing! (Pic: Swati Jain)

Somewhere in midway, I started humming a slow song while the raft navigated the calmer water. Gradually, the haha and hihi of my friends started to fade even though I was sitting next to them. Over the years I have mastered the art of stealing my ‘Me Moment’ and cocooning myself from human interactions even if it’s temporarily. As I lose myself to the scenery around, a dragonfly hovered at my face as if dancing to the song I was singing. The dragonfly vanished after strutting his/her stuff. The white prayer flags at the distance were the next victim of my imagination. They fluttered violently as if dancing to my tunes. That was the moment I felt a strong connection with Bhutan. My personal and intimate interactions with clouds, river, mountains, flora, fauna always leave me with spiritual growth. These are the moments when I realize there is much love, rhythm and harmony on this planet.

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Our raft as seen from a bridge. At the start of the raft!

What makes rafting in the Po Chu and Mo Chu rivers of Punakha memorable is the fact that its route includes the Punakha Dzong, famous for its unparalleled beauty. As we passed the wooden bridge which connects the Dzong to the mainland, tourists waved at us from the bridge. Rafting in Punakha offers unique views of the Dzong not possible from land.

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Our breakfast table by the camp side.

As we safely reached the landing point near a hotel, I decided to stay longer in the river. I lied down alone, the body below my face submerged in crystal clear water. Few kids and street dogs gave me company. It is moments like these why I am addicted to travel and adventure.

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We stayed here! Next to the river!

In the evening, we huddled near our tents. Some of us wanted to have beer and one of us volunteered to chill the beers in the ‘Natural Refrigirator’. The ice cold water of the river was where the ‘fridge’ was created. A nest with stones was created on the side of the river. The flowing water of the river turned it cold within hours. We dangled our legs in the river and chatted the night away. It was a secluded place which meant we could laugh over pakoda (fritters) and beer till way past midnight. I even joked, “I hope one of us falls in the river while laughing.”

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Ever chilled your beer like this?

MORE BLOGS ON BHUTAN:

SECRET BEHIND PENIS ART ON THE WALLS OF BHUTAN

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ALL YOU WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT PARO

MUST DO THINGS IN THIMPHU: 30 EXCLUSIVE PICTURES

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The place silences you (Pic: Swati Jain)

My trip was sponsored and all the logistics were taken care of by Bhutan Bookings. Click here to plan your vacation in Bhutan with them.

I was accompanied by travel bloggers – Dipanshu, Manjulika, Parnashree and Swati in the fun company of Sonam Karma and Dipanjan from Bhutan Bookings. Click on their names to read their stories from Bhutan.

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Rafters (Pic: Dipanshu Goyal)

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