Venturing to the Happiest Place in the World!
I have always dreamed of venturing to the furthest, most exotic regions of the earth and when a chance to visit Bhutan presented itself, I jumped at the opportunity. What could be better than a country whose chief economical indicator is the GNH or the Gross National Happiness?
As we left Delhi, we had great anticipation and a real sense of wonder for what lay ahead in Bhutan. The scene at the International terminal was much more chaotic than the domestic terminal. The airline recommendation was for coach class travelers to arrive three hours prior to departure and business class travelers to arrive two hours prior, so when we arrived and saw the scene at airport security, we quickly understood. Had it not been for a friendly security guard taking pity on us, the flight would have left us behind and because of the limited schedule of Druk Airways (the national airline of Bhutan and ONLY carrier servicing the country) we would have been out of luck for at least (3) days. The flight aboard Druk Airways was absolutely exceptional. Very modern, extremely clean and incredibly friendly, as you would expect for Bhutan.
The flight to Paro took about 2 hours and is one of the most dramatic I’ve ever taken. We paralleled the Himalayas and flew right past Mt. Everest and a number of others whose proximity and beauty made it appear as if they had been painted just for us. The approach into Paro was not for the faint hearted flyer, since we weaved and bobbed in and out of one majestic peak after another. After landing our guide said the compact runway was the last straight line we would see on our visit and he wasn’t kidding. The distances between the valleys and points of interest in Bhutan are not vast and although the roads are well paved, there is one hairpin turn after another. We travelled about ninety minutes from Paro to Thimphu and arrived at the beautiful Amankora property perched high in the hills overlooking the town. The property is an intimate twenty room, artistically designed and engineered facility providing a world class spa and exceptional food. Understated elegance at its best.
After a delicious lunch, we took mountain bikes into town for a city tour and were thrilled to visit a temple, handmade paper making facility and artist’s workshop, where the master painter creates many of the master pieces in the temples throughout the country. The hues and color intensities he creates in his paint colors are created from crushed rocks and is an incredibly labor intensive process. The results were absolutely breath taking.
After only one day here in Bhutan, one quickly dismisses the significant travel distances required to witness the majestic country. I now understand the beauty of the fact that Buddhist Religion totally encompasses the history, philosophy, and the culture of Bhutan. From what I’ve seen thus far, this country is a great recipe for peace tranquility and happiness.