Blogs from Bhutan, Asia - page 13

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Asia » Bhutan » Paro December 8th 2011

Typically, I dedicate an entire blog about food in the country I visited. I failed to do that in Bhutan. Bhutan has many many lovely sceneries ... from the stunning views of the Himalayas to the gho or Kira-clad Bhutanese going about their daily business, to the monks and mini-monks, and the quaint architecture of their Dzongs and temples. Food was the least of my concerns while I was there. For one, I've been warned that Bhutanese cuisine does not exactly count many fans. Vegetarians would likely not complain. Most dishes are non-meat. There isn't also a good source of seafood outside of those brought in from India. Landlocked, there isn't much variety in local ingredients. For the whole week I was there, I ate a lot of potatoes and vegetable dumplings. All that accompanied by ... read more
Boiled Bean Soup?
Chicken Curry
Mixed Vegetables

Asia » Bhutan » Punakha December 6th 2011

Spending a week in Bhutan yielded 3 blog posts here and I feel I'm not done yet. Not until I write about this. Of all the cultures I have experienced, theirs is markedly different in a way I feel compelled to explain. After all, it is not everyday that you find houses with hanging phalluses and the same subject painted on their walls. Some in full color, even beribboned, with matching pubic background. Excuse me, did you say THAT is the phallus of one of your favorite saints? Yes, this requires some good explaining. Our tour guide Sonam Norbu gave us a glimpse of Bhutanese culture as he narrated the story of the "Thunderbolt of Flaming Wisdom" which is how they referred to THAT. He narrated it so matter-of-factly that one begins to believe how seriously ... read more
Hanging Phallus
Beribboned Phallus
The Village

Asia » Bhutan » Paro December 4th 2011

I have been looking at photos and videos. Been reading travelers' accounts about their trek up the Taktshang Monastery.This is Bhutan's most famoust monastery perched on a cliff overlooking the valley of Paro. My mind was set that I would at least hike up to the Halfway Station where the Cafeteria is, and where one is able to look at the pilgrims' site at eye level, but for the deep abyss separating the Cafeteria site and the cliff-hugging Monastery on the other side. From the base up to the Halfway Station, the trail crossing a pine forest is basically a copper-colored dirt path following a stream for some time , then winding up the mountain. After that it's stone steps down the side of a hill and back up to the temple. About 900 meters above ... read more
Pathway to Tiger's Nest
Halfway Station
Target In Sight

Asia » Bhutan » Thimphu December 3rd 2011

I would have thought I stepped into my own imagination. My own dream. This trip to Bhutan is so markedly off the usual, beaten paths. Not being melodramatic, but Bhutan is truly one fairyland. Men and women in local costumes, dogs blending in with the locals like they are members of the small Bhutanese populace (they are still under 1 Million as of this writing), mountain views and bubbling streams, a culture so unique, a very strong national identity. Dzongs as Fortresses and Monasteries White monoliths dominate the landscape. Like castles. Some on dry, dead mountains. Others at the junction of flowing rivers. We have been to three dzongs, but managed to explore only 2. We regret having missed exploring the interiors of the Paro Dzong (Rinpung Dzong) as we were dead tired after that climb ... read more
Paro Dzong
Thimpu Dzong
Punakha Dzong

Asia » Bhutan » Paro December 1st 2011

The Himalayas. Shangrila. Gross National Happiness. The Mystique of Tibetan Buddhism in Bhutan. Young and Newly-Married Monarch... A young King at 27. Prime Minister Thinley looking more like a Dalai Lama to me, speaking of a country's collective pursuit of HAPPINESS. Monasteries which also house state offices and serving as fortresses, called Dzongs. Church and State ruling under one roof. Houses painted with phalluses, in memory of the Divine Madman, one of its revered saints. The same phallic symbols turned into hanging ornaments decorating both village houses and urban buildings. Mini-monks, bald chanting nuns and local folks --- so pious, so polite and so amazingly trusting. Where and how do I begin my story about my week in Bhutan?... read more
And This is Just the Airport!
No Traffic Lights in Bhutan!
A Newfound Tranquility

Asia » Bhutan October 11th 2011

Yetis & dragons review They were right when they told me my traveling experience is incomplete if I haven't visited Bhutan. I thought it was just a normal sales pitch, by the travel company I hired, Yetis & Dragons. They are a good bunch of efficient people, and very kind people as well, so I thought I well name this article as yetis & dragons review. I recommend this agency to anyone who is going there, and you will be impressed by their services. My visit there, made me believe that there is one land on this earth where people are still the same, same here means pure. When they laugh they really want to laugh, it comes out from their soul. And now I know more about United nations as well. UN has this happiness ... read more
A1-Ura temple 014 [1024x768]
A4-Ura village 009 [1024x768]
A7-Picnic at Thrumshing La,3800 m 003 [1024x768]

Asia » Bhutan May 21st 2011

My second Bhutan adventure was born over a long and well-oiled lunch Café Español in London’s Soho. The starting point was the wish of my companion, Allyson, to go to Bhutan, a country that this most-widely travelled of my friends had not yet visited. But I didn’t take much persuading. I’d loved my first trip there in 2009, and now wanted to “do a coast-to-coast” of the country – in other words, to cross into Bhutan at one of the two land borders open to tourists (one is in the south-west corner of the country, the other in the south-east) and come out of the other, after traversing the country. Over the next eighteen months, we collected a few other folks to join our adventure, all of whom I had met on my travels at some ... read more
western Bhutan
Punakha Dzong
challenging road conditions

Asia » Bhutan » Bumthang » Ura May 18th 2011

If an eighth century saint answers a village’s prayer to cure a leprosy epidemic, it is only fitting that the miracle be commemorated for ever after in dance and colour and panache. And when that village is in Bhutan, the dance and colour and panache are truly fabulous. On my first trip to Bhutan, I’d been lucky enough to go to one of the biggest festivals in the country, the Tsechu held in the imperious Punakha Dzong, which marks the anniversary of the Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel’s seventeenth century victory over the Tibetans. The Tsechu had been an incredible occasion, presided over by Bhutanese Buddhism’s highest-ranking official, the Je Khenpo, with elaborate dances and re-enactments, fabulously-dressed crowds and colour, bemused tourists and rituals, and the closest I’ve seen to a traffic jam in this sparsely-populated country. This ... read more
dressed to the nines
Ura's temple
"be prepared, come armed!"

Asia » Bhutan » Bumthang May 15th 2011

There aren’t many places in the world where you can gaze upon sights that few, whether local or visitor, have seen – or will ever see. The route up Mount Kilimanjaro seems to be a well-beaten highway; the path to Everest Base Camp in Nepal is apparently strewn with litter; crossing the Gobi there are very few moments when the view is not dotted with at least a couple of gers. Even two years’ ago, I’d walked paths in Bhutan that, if not in the guidebooks, nevertheless saw the regular footfall of local people, with their horses and yaks, going about their daily lives. This year was different. For three days we didn’t see another person. Tshetem himself hadn’t walked this route in five years, and had only ever brought two groups of tourists here before ... read more
wot you lookin' at?
rhododendron
damply setting out

Asia » Bhutan » Punakha May 10th 2011

Saturday morning, we visited Punakha Dzong, one of the most important and, indeed, beautiful in Bhutan. We all felt so fortunate to be in Bhutan this time of year as the dzong was surrounded by mature blooming jacaranda trees whose soft petaled purple blossoms were utterly magical. We arrived to witness a slew of monks, with their robes up to their knees, using a fire hose to wash off the very high wooden steps leading into the main entrance into the dzong. Not something you see everyday! One reason that the stairs needed cleaning was the presence of several enormous bee hives, larger than any we've ever seen, suspended from the eaves of the dzong entrance. Apparently, as the bees naturally die off, they essentially litter the steps with their bodies, thousands of little bee corpses ... read more
Punakha Szong
Punakha Dzong
Punakha Dzong




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