I’ve wanted to go to Bhutan for years, ever since I heard about the King’s idea to measure the success of his company with a “National Happiness Factor”. I finally got to go and though 70% of the citizens now have access to electricity and the country is up to 3 planes, it’s still a very relaxed country. They are dedicated to preserving nature, treat all people fairly and are very welcoming of tourists.
Just a few highlights are:
- Flying into Paro Airport, the most dangerous airport in the world. We wove threw a valley and the wing tips were a matter of meters from the mountain slopes. Prior to landing the pilot announced there was a mechanical error but ‘not to worry’. I was worried.
- Taking a photography tour with National Geographic’s Ira Block and having him tell me not to be shy to get in people’s faces and take pics. The Bhutanese people were across the board friendly and helpful and never complained about my group running up and taking pictures.
- Having dinner with a reincarnated Lama. He didn’t remember much about when he was discovered as a reincarnation because he was only 2 ½ at the time but did manage to explain the overall process to me. He was discovered in Tibet, taken to the monastery, fled the country because of the Chinese, lived in India and ended up in Bhutan running the National Archives. An interesting life.
- Climbing up 3,000 feet to see the most amazing Tiger’s Nest Monastery. Legend has it that Guru Rinpoche (the St. Peter of Himalayan Buddhism), flew up to the cliff on his consort after she transformed into a tiger.
- Learning to play archery, the national sport. BTW, it’s really hard. We got arrows stuck in trees, broke arrows hitting the hotel and the tourists only got points because we happened to land an arrow within the general vicinity of the target (1 point).