Monday 4 May 2015

Unforgettable Bhutan

While I have traveled to many places around the world, there is no place that has left a deeper impression on me than Bhutan. To say that Bhutan is a land of happiness or the Last Shangri-La is almost an understatement.  

This fascinating country (aka Land of the Thunder Dragon) is nothing like the gleaming and progressive cities we live in, yet in my opinion, they are ahead of us in many ways. 

For one, they don’t take their amazing landscape for granted.  Conservation laws have protected 75% of their forested areas, making it one of the most pristine and untouched environments on earth.
The country is blessed with an amazing landscape where snowcapped peaks rise above gorges cloaked in blue pine and rhododendron. Within the folds of the majestic mountains lie sacred temples, terraced rice fields, and farm houses in villages unchanged by time.
As the sole surviving Himalayan Buddhist Kingdom, Bhutan’s traditional ways of Mahayana Buddhism permeate every aspect of Bhutanese life.  The people are deeply religious, yet on the other hand, well educated and knowledgeable. They speak good English and have perfect manners. 

This is a country where women are treated equally, both at work and at home. Children are taught from birth to respect their parents, family and the elders.
Bhutan's Buddhist tradition of respect and reverence for nature also means that botanical riches and unique mammals and birds are protected in the national parks. Dogs are everywhere but being so well treated, they live harmoniously with the people and show no sign of aggression. 
It's like going back in time where life is simple and everyone is kind. I'm privileged to be one of the few who have experienced the natural charm of a country where Gross National Happiness is deemed more important than Gross National Product.
All the buildings, including the airport is beautifully decorated.

Getting there is easier than you think. From Singapore, there is a direct flight on Druk Air which stops in Calcutta for half an hour (refueling) before heading to Paro, Bhutan. The flying time is around 5 hours. The daily tariff of USD250 includes accommodation, food, driver and an official guide. 

We did not quite get the summer weather we were expecting as it could dip to 5 degree celcius on some nights, even in May. So always bring a jacket especially if you're going up the mountains.

We booked our holiday with Little Bhutan ( after reading all the good reviews. Indeed, their service standard surpassed our expectations. It is probably the best trip of my life.

I will write in detail about the places we visited including Thimphu, Paro, Panukha and Gangtey. Stay tuned.

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