A Wonderful Trip To Bhutan!
During last winter vacations when me and my wife decided to go to Bhutan there was both anxiety as well as curiosity to know about the people and the place. But let me tell you that it is a remarkable place. In Bhutan, nature is at its best and people are contended, friendly and happy.
One cannot really understand Bhutan without knowing a little of its history. It is said that the place was not very much inhabited. As per history, in 9th century many Buddhist monks who fled from Tibet arrived in Bhutan and laid the foundation of the present day Bhutan which is primarily Buddhist. One surprising fact about Bhutan is that it has always remain independent and has never been ruled, conquered by an outside force. In 1907, the present day monarchy was established when Ugyen Wangchuck was crowned as the king of Bhutan. He was a smart administrator and in 1910 signed a treaty with British in which ensured that they will not interfere in the internal affairs of Bhutan and in return Bhutan will follow the foreign policy as dictate them. Even today, Bhutan has similar understanding with independent Indian government.
The actual progress of Bhutan started under the kind Jigme Singye Wangchuck who came to power from 1972 and worked extensively for the inclusive growth of the kingdom. His son Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, came to power in 2006 when his father abdicated the throne. He is successfully continuing with the progress agenda and Bhutan is fast moving on its developmental path.
Despite all these activities during our visit, we found the Bhutanese are very decent and simple mannered. They are very contented with what they have got in life. There is no major difference between the people living in urbanized areas, such as Thimphu, or in the remote villages that came along with my journey. They all live in a state of peace and happiness, a rare thing indeed. There does not seem to be any type of ill feelings or conflict between them and lone to line in natural and social harmony. They communicate in a very pleasant manner i.e. with full respect and happiness for each other. There is no inequality on the basis of caste, gender or any other religious matter.
All, I want to say about the people living in Bhutan is that they are kind hearted nice people, and whoever visits Bhutan for a trip, he/she will find it very interesting and memorable too. They will enjoy each and every moment of their time spent in Bhutan. One surprising fact about Bhutan is that there are no beggars. This shows that people like to work and are happy in what they have. We visited many places in Bhutan during our stay.
Let us discuss some of them that one going to Bhutan must not miss:
Bhutan is famous for its hiking and Trekking. The famous spot for hiking is “Samteygang Trek”. It is considered to be at the highest altitude and easiest spot for trekking in winter. Its height is about 3720M (3.7 Km). We hired a trek guide, so that we can enjoy each and every interesting fact and don’t miss anything. He was “Namgay”, a local with good hold on English. He also showed us the shortest and smoothest route. The uphill climbing was comparatively easy. There at an old-growth forest we saw rhododendron (a flower), oak & fruit trees. We also saw fresh footprints of bear near a berry plant.
The next day we asked at the hotel reception about more tourist spots and places that we must see. He told me that we must go the “Bumthang Valley” for a walk there. There are a plenty of spots for hiking in Bumthang region. As we both love hiking so we went there and found the spot really interesting and a fun place. As per the hotel receptionist advice we also visited “Goembas” for a trek from Lamey Goemba over the ridge to Tharpaling Goemba. We hired a vehicle with driver cum guide from the hotel so that we can enjoy the places that come in between the journey from the hotel to the tourist spot. We told the driver to meet me at Chhume Valley which is at a height of 3500 m (3.5 km).
During hiking it was obvious that, though there were not many scenic places to be seen, but yes there were many old sacred shrines that gave us a feeling of being on a pilgrimage. There were beautiful pagodas with nice carvings. We took many pictures of us, to preserve the memories. On the way we also hired a guide that told everything about the spots that came in between our journey. It was a full day exertion trip but we enjoyed it very much. After that we also visited the Lha Kharpo to see the rock paintings, Jakar and the Chokhor valley.
Besides trekking one can also enjoy the place on bikes. The next morning we took a bike on rent from the Bhutan Bicycle Club. There is a local company by name of “Yudruk Tours” who runs the club. They offer rides and also give mountain bikes for rent. Usually the rent rate is – US$30 per day including helmet). They also helped us to get to the starting point of the mountain bike journey, and after that for almost 7-8 hours we enjoyed the mountain bike ride throughout the surrounding area. A great experience indeed.
Next morning we visited the Royal Thimphu Golf Club which is very famous for teaching and organizing Golf tournaments. There are many skilled coaches for initiating you into the game. There are many Gold academies that teach Golf and also hold Golf competition on inter-club level or state level. The clubs provided us with a Caddy along with the clubs at a reasonable rent. Normally one does not require appointment for playing. You can just go there, pay for the fees, take a caddy with clubs and they just start playing, may be for the whole day long.
As I was in Bhutan how could I forget the famous dishes which are famous in Bhutan? One such popular dish is “Datshe” which is actually a vegetable dish that is traditionally cooked with farmer’s cheese. It had a wonderful taste. It was one of my greatest experiences on the trip in Bhutan.
In Bhutan, meat is the most common protein giving source for people. The people there (Bhutanese) enjoy the pork and beef, which they believe is very nutritious to stay healthy. There is also one more dish that is very famous called “Cellophane noodles (also known as ‘fing’). At last, I would just like to say that it was a WONDERFUL experience to be in Bhutan. The life moves here at slow pace and if you want to unwind and be at leisure for some time, then there cannot be a place better than Bhutan. Here you can be on your own and set your own pace and just enjoy the nature in its many forms. We came back very much rejuvenated and feel that given a chance shall like to go there again but this time with more time in hand.