Our world is under a lot of pressure these days. This is true on either side of the Pacific or Atlantic Oceans. I’m unsure what’s happening to be honest except everyone is beyond stressed and no one can say anything right. If you want an escape from the madness, there is a tiny little Buddhist Kingdom at the base of the mighty Himalaya Mountains called Bhutan. Some refer to Bhutan the Last Shangri-La.
You know you’re in a special place even before landing at the airport in Paro. Pilots skillfully navigate between massive mountain ranges as if they are meandering on a mountain road. It’s incredible. If you’re lucky enough to sit next to a window, you’ll have a delightful landscape show that you’ll never expect.
You’ll also know you’re in a one of a kind destination when you pick up your luggage from the one and only carousel in the airport terminal.
Your Bhutanese experience will only continue to get better day by day. What I’m really saying is you won’t have a bad experience in Bhutan. The Bhutanese are beautiful, peaceful and well beyond friendly. Their smiles will make you melt. Do keep in mind the Bhutanese enjoy their quiet so keep your Western voices down to a minimum.
Schedule your journey to Bhutan to coincide with one of the many festivals that take place throughout the year. You’ll be treated to traditional Bhutanese music and dancing. The most intriguing part of any festival is the display of devotion to Buddha and the Buddhist ceremonies that take place.
Typically, festivals take place at a town’s dzong, which in olden times were large fortresses. Today the dzongs are home to local government councils and offices. Besides the glorious Himalaya Mountains that surround you in almost any place you find yourself in Bhutan, the Bhutanese architecture is just as grand and incredible to see. Be sure to pay attention to the minute details as most buildings feature brilliant woodcarvings and intricate painting designs.
Allow yourself enough time to travel beyond Paro and Thimphu, the capital city. Once your driver takes you past Thimphu, you’re basically on Himalayan mountain roads. Believe me when I say – you’re in for a ride of a lifetime. There is no straight smooth road through the mountains but the scenery is well beyond anything you’ve ever seen. And if you’re lucky, you’ll find your head in the clouds as low clouds move in at dusk. For me, having my head in the clouds was surreal and one of the most memorable travel experiences I’ve ever had in my life.
It was in Bhutan on the long uphill trail to Tiger’s Nest when I first realised selfies had grossly infected society. I was only a few hundred yards from the pinnacle when a youngish American tourist whipped out his phone and declared – “It’s time for a selfie.” Needless to say I was taken back and in disbelief that someone would think to take a photo of himself before considering he was at one of Bhutan’s most sacred sights. Since then, of course, selfies have become more than common and might I add more than annoying. Tiger’s Nest, however, remains a majestic sight and well worth the three hour trek it takes to reach it. You can’t be disappointed, nor will you be.