Land of the Thunder Dragon

The last Shangri-la.


Either the sky had fallen a few inches or Bhutan had risen, because as we left the Ura Valley traveling up an over a mountain pass, we were enveloped in the clouds.  A light mist from being inside a cloud began to fall and we pulled over on the road near a stupa to enjoy our boxed lunches.  I quickly began eating my cheese and butter sandwiches, piece of cold fried chicken, potato slice and two boiled eggs.  So engrossed in my food and satiating my hunger, I failed to notice my guide and driver silently picking apart their boxes and making one to set aside.  Eating half of a sandwich or only one of the two eggs each.

As we wrapped up lunch, I realized there was a separate box not in the trash and assumed a secret snack for later was in the works.  However, as we climbed a touch higher, the rain still falling, we came upon a mother with two children walking on the side of the road.  This is not uncommon in Bhutan to see a mother with an infant on her back and toddler in tow going to find their cows or simply find their way home.  On this day, they were soaked from the cloud and as we approached, Tobgay, our driver, began to slow and gave a short honk. (This is the short, respectful, hey turn around honk. Rather than the longer double honk for cute girls on the road.) Namgay, the guide, rolled down the window, spoke a few words to the woman and the children and handed her the box of food and bottle of water.

I asked about what he had just done and Namgay’s reply was, “they have a harsh life”.  It touched me to see my guide and driver, who probably make a decent bit above the per capita income of 2,000 dollars a year here in Bhutan, to not just acknowledge suffering and act – but to anticipate their actions and how they may address someones suffering in a small, but touching way.

I only spent ten days in this country but I believe that these kind of people are in the majority in Bhutan.

The greatest religion in the world never gives anyone suffering

 – The Buddha

*Quoted by the 3988 meter height maker at the top of Chelela pass.

For perspective, the day before, as we were driving to the Bumthang region on the notoriously narrow and uneven roads, we were coming down a short hill and a young boy about 4 or 5 years old was crouched on the side of the road tinkering with something.  As we passed, the young boy stood up and proudly gave us the finger. I have no clue why. The three of us in the car all laughed so hard it brightened the whole day as we were a little tired after 5 bumpy LONG hours in the Hyundai Tuscon.  If he meant to be rude, it didn’t work.  He created happiness for three weary travelers.

In Bhutan the landscapes are simply incredible.  If New Zealand and Bhutan could create a world, it might just be Pandora from the movie Avatar.  Bhutan is unique, original and authentic.  They protect their culture, respect nature and they are not afraid to talk about their faith.  Bhutan is proud of their 4th Kings concept of Gross National Happiness and no matter a persons lot in life, there is a sense of Happiness in this Kingdom in Clouds.

Genuine Happiness is a powerful feeling. It is one which is distinctly unique to Bhutan, when I compare to other wonderful countries I have visited.  They seem to know if they focus on peace, love and respect as the path to what is really needed to survive happily in this life, everything else will fall into place as it should.

Faith in fate.

Bhutan is a happy place.  Visiting this tiny Kingdom in the Clouds has been a happy dream come true.

Coming soon –

I feel as though I could write a novel on Bhutan as the thoughts are still spinning in my mind about this country and topics…I am going to limit myself to 3 more posts however.  I do encourage questions so leave a comment or contact me directly to learn more about Bhutan.   

Travel Tips, Bhutan – Too many good things to mention just to put it at the end of a post. I’ll talk about exactly what I did too and the reality of travel in this country.

On Happiness – You cannot have a travel blog, travel to Bhutan and not post something about Gross National Happiness.

Land of the Flying Pig – EATS! Bhutan Edition.  These pigs are high, man.

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3 Responses to “Land of the Thunder Dragon”

  1. Mom
    October 19, 2012 at 12:47 pm #

    GC I can feel your passion and love you have for this part of the world and its people. Your writing really makes me stop and think about my life. Thanks for sharing your thoughts because they are truly helping me to see things with a more kind and happy spirit. :)
    love mom

  2. Lisa oliver
    October 19, 2012 at 2:20 pm #

    Lovely excerpt on having lunch in a cloud…and the generosity…can.t wait for the travel tips!

    • October 19, 2012 at 3:07 pm #

      Thanks Lisa – Working hard to make the travel tips good ones. Bhutan is an amazing country.

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