It was an honour and great joy to visit the beautiful Kingdom of Bhutan!
TAKTSANG TIGER’S NEST MONASTERY
How not to fall in love and in peace with the beautiful Taktsang Paro, Tiger’s Nest Monastery?
It sits perched on a steep mountain, hugging the cliffs overlooking the Paro valley. The views are simply breathtaking and hike up can be dizzying. Is it vertigo, lack of oxygen or the simple sacredness of the whole landscape that is getting to me?
In the 8th century, Guru Rinpoche arrived in Bhutan from Tibet riding on the back of a flying tigress. He came to introduce Buddhism to Bhutan, and his first stop was right here in a cave on this mountain.
Taktsang Monastery was built in the 17th century, around one of the caves he meditated in.
TASCHICHHO DZONG IN THIMPHU, BHUTAN
PUNAKHA DZONG, BHUTAN
Welcome to the gorgeous Punakha dzong, the Palace of Bliss!
Punakha dzong sits against a mountain backdrop at the confluence of the Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu rivers. Pho Chhu means ‘father’ and Mo Chhu ‘mother‘, and the dzong is an impressive series of imbricated buildings and courtyards.
The majestic dzong, the friendly children monks and the purple Jacaranda trees soothed our souls, and the rivers’ clear icy cold waters soothed our weary travelers’ feet.
THIMPHU MARKET, BHUTAN
A bit of down to earth shopping at Thimpu’s open air market. Friendly smiles, laughing children, huge meat carcasses, vegetables, rice, trinkets, dried cheese strung like mala beads, and oh yes, piles of red and green CHILI !!
EMA DATSHI – BHUTANESE CHEESE AND CHILI STEW
One of Bhutan’s most famous dishes MUST be ema datshi.
Ema Datshi is a cheese and chili stew. YUP, you heard me, CHEESE AND CHILI. Who said chili can’t be used as a vegetable?? (it is technically a fruit)
After the dzong visiting, we were ready for food. But was I ready for ema datshi ?? I grew up in Asia, and have grazed my way through tear-inducing Penang laksas, Thai tom yam soups and fiery Southern Indian curries. But ema datshi? It’s a whole new dimension to HOT and NUMBING.
RED PANDA BHUTANESE BEER
Because Bhutan has one of the world’s cutest beers, Red Panda Beer. No red pandas inside, just smooth white beer. The perfect antidote to the fiery ema datshi.
And no, I’m telling you it’s the high altitude, not the 5% alcohol content that’s making my head spin…
DRUKAIR LANDING IN PARO AIRPORT BHUTAN
Because reaching Bhutan’s Paro airport on Drukair’s specially fitted A319 means twisting and turning around mountains before landing in the valley. One of the most acrobatic landings I’ve had: it seemed as if I could reach out and touch the grazing yak!
GROSS NATIONAL HAPPINESS – BHUTAN
And because happiness counts too, not just Gross National Product…
Read more on Gross National Happiness in Bhutan.
May I return to Bhutan one day.