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Published: October 21st 2012
The world's largest Buddha
Shangri-La has become synomous with any earthly paradise but particularly a mythical Himalayan utopia-- a permanently happy land, islolated from the outside world. Bhutan seems to fit this definition.
Happiness is the Kingdom of Bhutan
Bhutan has a philosophy they call Gross National Happiness.
They define this by creating a world of well-being and happiness. This means they live life in balance. Sort of dividing things up evenly…..work, sleep and play…..the modern world could learn a few things from Bhutan.
Now, we’re not trying to espouse some Buddhist-induced state of “total enlightenment,” but the Bhutanese are seriously interested in the psychological health of its citizens. Not a bad philosophy to latch onto all things considered.
Research has shown that increasing levels of income correlate to increasing levels of happiness only up to a certain point. This makes good sense. Beyond that, even exponential growth in wealth does not produce higher levels of happiness. The happiness curve flattens out.
In Bhutan the goal is to move people above the poverty line so that all may reach the “happiness plateau”
179 feet tall
Impressive does not begin to describe it.
of relative comfort.
Our strong recommendation is that you book a trip to Bhutan, and don’t wait too long. It is an amazing country. We have seen and experience many wonderful things. The Bhutan culture is unique. The people are amazingly friendly, kind and everyone wants to talk to you.
When we told people we were heading to Bhutan the most common question was where is Bhutan and for those who knew about Bhutan their first comment was, isn’t it very expensive to travel there? Bhutan located east of Nepal, surrounded by India and China and yes it is expensive to travel here.
The Bhutan government will not grant you a visa unless you purchase a tour from an approved agent. We have been told they are attempting to prevent the mistakes that Nepal made in tourism. The last thing they want is a bunch of near-broke backpackers invading their little slice of heaven. What this means is that you purchase all-inclusive packages that can be tailored to the things you want to see, but you will be required to spend $250 per person per night. You will have a personal
Flying to Bhutan
guide with you to show you this enchanting and clean country. For those that can afford this…..it’s well worth it.
With that introduction we want to thank our agent who had a little surprise for us that we did not know about until we got to the airport. Turns out she booked us a flight from Kathmandu in business class on Druk airlines, the airlines of Bhutan.
If you read liliram's blog BHUTAN: One Off My Bucket List
you will have a great description of landing in Bhutan.
As you descend the plane banks left and then banks right. Cruising around some mountains. It is a lovely little adventure. It might take your breath away.
Plus we had nearly 3 hours in the Kathmandu airport before take off in the business class lounge…..life is grand!
The flight from Kathmandu to the Paro airport is barely an hour. We had a fine meal and we are happy to report we were on the left side of the plane so that means we got to see Mt. Everest again……and several mountains in the Himalayas! Unbelievable to see the mother mountain twice in one week. There
were puffy white clouds about so it looked mysterious and grand. We took 100 photos on the flight. We’ll share a couple of the best ones with you. What a great flight!
If you are coming to Bhutan don't forget to ask for a seat on the left side of the plane.
In the Bhutan blogs you will see several photos of Dzong’s. This is a distinctive type of fortress architecture found in the Himalayas, specifically Bhutan and Tibet. This architecture define by wikipedia as massive in style with towering exterior walls surrounding a complex of courtyards, temples, administrative offices, and monk’s accommodation.
Good news! We are back in a country where the people know how to cook. We are pleased. They actually use spices in their foods. You are likely to see food photos again.
We’ve learned that most traditional Bhutan homes are three stories tall. The 1st
level is actually more of a barn from American standards in that they bring the cows in during the winter to stay warm. The family lives on the 2nd
floor and the 3rd
floor is used for
drying meats and vegetables. In Thimphu we were able to go into the local museum which had a replica of a local home. It was interesting.
The national animal is a Takin, which we had never heard of so we had to google it. Life is so easy with google. We went to the local zoo to take a look. Evidentially, they have 14 of them in a fenced in area. It is rather large so there was some difficulty finding them. We were able to see 3 of them. Two of them engaged in a bit of a tussel…no apparent winner. They are not pretty animals by any stretch. Our guide told us they were created by a crazy monk. In many historical tales he is referred to as the divine madman. The whole thing revolves around an amalgamation of a goat and an antelope. Gotta love that! They are big…about 700 pounds. The photos are marginal but we tried. Sometimes wild life does not cooperate. Their living space is very large so we were surprised to see them at all. The smallish zoo also has the barking deer, which is rather small yet cute, the
Sambar deer, which has extremely big ears.
In Thimphu, we had the most wonderful experience. When we were touring Simtokha Dzong, the oldest Dzong in Bhutan we were able to observe the monks having morning prayers. Seriously, mesmerizing! We were invited into the assembly roomed where about 75 monks were sitting on their pillows reading the mantra, chanting and beating their drums. This was a very spiritual experience. We were fascinated. We could have stayed for hours watching. It was an amazing experience.
Do you know what a B.A.B. is? Big Ass Buddha, no disrespect intended. In Thimphu, Bhutan they have built a 179 foot tall Buddha on a mountain top and it sits atop a temple that has not been completed. The work on this Buddha and temple has been going on for 8 years and they predict another 5 years until it will be completed. The building Buddha is sitting on will house a Buddhist temple, a Hindu temple and a Christian church. The projected cost is north of 40 million USD and apparently funded by generous philanthropy by some Chinese.
The Peaceful Resort where we stayed in Thimphu
had a cultural night. Calling it a resort is a stretch but that is beside the point. They had local Bhutanese dancers and singers performing traditional dances. The band was rocking out Bhutanese style and we were able to see costumes from various areas around the country and watch the famous masked dancing. It was truly interesting to see this performance up close.
On Dave’s birthday our guide and driver came to have dinner with us at the Peaceful Resort. They brought Dave a cake and all the staff sang happy birthday to him. Many of the staff gave him birthday cards and several were hand-made which made it very special.
Our guide is fantastic. He asked us if there was anything we would like to do while in his country and of course our answer was we would like to tour the hospital. He arranged for us to meet with the Chief Medical Officer and the Nursing Superintendent of the hospital in Thimphu. Both are physicians and they were happy to talk with us about medical care and medical issues within Bhutan.
We learned that the infant mortality rate is
Your papers don't seem to be in order....?
1 hour delay for paper work. No traffic day in Thimphu.
about 40%! (MISSING)Diabetes and heart disease are on the rise, not because of a change in lifestyle but because more people are seeking health care. The majority of their physicians trained in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Their orthopedic surgeon and Neurosurgeon both trained in Bangkok. They have up to date medical equipment and as in our country they are suffering from a nursing shortage. This hospital gets physician and nursing volunteers from and organization called Health Volunteers Overseas.
We also toured the traditional medicine hospital where we learned how they use leaves, berries, bark and roots to cure all manner of illnesses. The older population still prefer the traditional medicine. Education and classes are being offer so everyone understands and learns to trust modern medicine a bit more.
Please stay with us as we have learned so much more about Bhutan. Places we stayed:
The Peaceful Resort- Thimphu
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