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Bhutan the Bhutiful


Bhutan, besides being a country of happy people is a country of almost unparalleled beauty. As you can see, even the money is Bhutiful

We only saw a quarter of it in our week there and a lot of that from the back seat of our sedan. I am not sure how many times I asked the driver to stop so I could take in a vista, and take some photos, but the simple fact that I took close to 700 photos in a week should say something.

At a quick stop for lunch I found the “Window on Bhutan”

Bhutan is of course a mountainous country with plenty of rain. The combination of the two means nice rivers.

I started wondering about fishing, so I asked. Yes, you can fish in Bhutan, with a special permit. They sort of frown on it because Buddhists don’t take the life of creatures, including fish. So I asked “what type of fish are there in these rivers ?”  The guide said trout. I started putting two and two together.I figured if nobody fished, and never really had, these rivers must have some lunkers. So I asked the guide “big trout?” He said “some”. The driver, who was a very communicative young man shook his head and said “huge trout”. He related a story that about a year ago he had guided five Texans into the mountains to do some fly fishing. He was happy they practiced catch and release. He started telling me about them landing 8 to 10  pound trout all day long while he fished with a bamboo pole and a worm on a hook. He said he caught the biggest, and so that is the one they ate for dinner. This is one reason, among many, I would love to return to the land of the Thunder Dragon.

If I were a birder, I would definitely find Bhutan a  destination of choice. Bhutan has many tour companies specializing in birding. This is one  I only chose that one because I stole the following photo from their web site.

Not that I was always ready to get good bird photos (which is an art in and of itself) but I did see many bhutiful birds during my stay.

Bhutan has some marvelous detail work on their buildings.

Prayer wheels in the central square in Thimpu. These wheels are hollow inside and contain hundreds or thousand of prayers (very small font size) and when people walk past, they spin them to help the prayers do their thing. You always spin them clockwise. I can’t walk past a set of these wheels without spinning them all. It just feels good.

Windows on a temple. This style of window frame is all over Bhutan, from temples to government buildings to homes.

Just another doorway in just another temple. I could have used up an entire memory card with just photos of doors in Bhutan.

Another view of the big Buddha we saw under construction. When he is done there will be an entire temple under him. Before construction started, they blessed the land around him. I took home a blessed rock. I am staring at it right now.

This is almost a logo of Bhutan. It depicts an act friendship, kindness and cooperation. The elephant is giving the monkey a ride, the rabbit is on top of the monkey, and the bird is on top of the rabbit, all so that they can reach the “golden fruit” in the tree. This is depicted in many ways in Bhutan, I saw one where the elephant was wearing sneakers and the monkey was garbed out with sunglasses and a scarf.

I have made a big deal about Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness.  They take a  census and publish the results, and then take action where needed. The idea is catching on. The UN is talking about it, but most amazing is that so is the US Fed Reserve. Don’t believe me, read this. Be sure to read the mention about Bhutan half way down the story.

Another reason they might be so happy is their music.

Under certain conditions back in the day, I might have seen Jerry Garcia look like this, but without the bird on his head.

One weird thing I saw in Bhutan, and no where else I have been, is using a Phallus as a talisman against evil.

Sometimes they paint them outside their door…

…or on the walls of the school.

OK, so the government of Bhutan will not admit it, but I happen to think that one little reason for the happiness is this; pot grows wild all over the place.

I stopped our sedan to relieve myself. When I looked at what I was watering, I just had to laugh.

Right outside the front door!

I stopped to mail a post card. Across the street was the Thimpu police station. Look what is growing in their front yard!

So I asked the guide, who of course works for the government, if this was perhaps a factor in the happiness thing. He denied it and said that the marijuana is only used for pig food. Don’t believe me? Read this.

A happy pig in Bhutan. By the way, the pork was delicious!

However, the driver who was a bit more irreverent (had to love him) said that the young people, because of the influence of TV and movies have discovered they have a natural source of happiness growing at their feet, and yes, they are feeding the pigs less.

That is it for Bhutan. I strongly suggest that the more adventurous readers/travelers go to experience this place yourselves. You can only get there through Thailand, Bangladesh or Nepal. I suggest Nepal. The best guy to set you up with tours or trekking in both places is Mr. Pandy, who you can contact right here.

Thanks for reading, share with a friend, make a comment, or better yet, plan your own trip!


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