Bhutan is known as one of the happiest countries in the world and the kingdom measures this through a unique National Gross Happiness index. My family had heard about its majestic beauty, the peaceful monasteries, as well as, the Dzongs tucked in between the lower Himalayan ranges.
We departed from Delhi airport at 6:35 am. Just an hour into the ride, the great peaks of the Himalayas appeared on our left. The snow-capped mountains stood like giants, basking in all their splendid glory, almost mocking us, as they will live on long after we leave this Earth. The entire airplane went into a frenzy when it was announced that Mount Everest could be spotted amongst the peaks. Everyone took out their phones and snapped away.
The best part about this flight, however, had to be the landing. It was the most unique landing ever. Firstly, the plane was flying, and eventually descending, directly over mountains. Several times I had felt that we would touch the mountains for sure. The runway was in a valley between these mountains and with expert skill the captain guided left and right over them and brought us to safety. As we disembarked, we saw an amazing photo on the young and admired king and queen of Bhutan.
The architecture of Bhutan is very unique as every building seems to resemble a monastery. The Paro International airport was no different.
Within five minutes, we had passed immigration and collected our baggage. A Bhutanese cab driver, who was wearing Rayban glasses along with the traditional Bhutanese dress, ushered us into a taxi. He was friendly and even bought us water – though we found out later that he had charged us extra to our hotel in Thimpu, the capital city. Moral of the story is not to trust a dude with Raybans.
The scenery was breath-taking with mountains on both sides of the road, little houses that look like monasteries, streams that ebb and flow through tiny rocks. Bhutan looked like a country that wasn’t affected by the onslaught of monstrous consumerism. Yet, their society is progressive and they make really good use of technology.
That aside, something bizarre happened en-route Thimpu. The boot of our taxi sprung open and our hand luggage slammed onto the floor. After our initial shock passed, we stopped the cars and went after our bags. Thankfully, everything was intact. The cab driver merely smiled at this event as if it was an everyday occurrence.
After this adventure, we reached Hotel Norbuling in Thimpu and we asked the reception to send people to pick up our bags from the taxi, which was parked on the opposite side of the road. I was expecting to see some well-built males coming to our assistance, but instead around four to five female staff came to pick up our luggage. In fact, the entire hotel is run by a female staff and the owner is female as well.
Norbuling is a very comfortable and affordable hotel, very close to Thimpu centre. The staff are extraordinarily friendly. Once I am done with the trip I will give a concise review.
But coming back to the female staff, as my family and I went to explore the handicrafts market we discovered that women were given equal status to men in this country- which is not very common in countries of this region. Females are safe to roam about on their own and at any time of day. The majority of shops were owned by females and several cabbies were female too. The citizens seem to be happily equal when it comes to their gender.
As for Thimpu as a city- I will be exploring more tomorrow. Will be updating you then!
Source of Keychain: Handicraft store in Thimpu