There is an ethereal beauty to Bhutan that visitors just can’t get enough of.
It was just after 11pm, Wednesday, in the western town of Paro, Bhutan. It was also Ladies’ Night, and we were walking towards Destiny Club disco to celebrate the last night of our trip. Young girls in mini-skirts and heels overtook our big group, checked out our casual clothes and said: “Tourism day?”
Bhutan is “the Land of the Thunder Dragon,” called Druk Yul, and it is happiness rather than gross profit that is measured and reported by the Government! The landing in Paro can be challenging, but the experienced pilots of Drukair will slide you into the green valley with no problem. The air and light are crisp and I feel so free as I come out of the plane… only to smile and be happier to see that all the men are wearing wrap dresses! The photos of the young King and his recent bride are everywhere, and they truly are the most beautiful young couple!
“You can’t come to Bhutan and not visit the Tiger’s Nest!” beamed the elderly European tourist as he happily trekked down the trail that led to the Taktsang Monastery, perched higher up on a sheer cliff on a mountainside in Paro Valley in Bhutan. I was resting on a rock, fanning myself in the hot sun and looking down at the valley below. I was contemplating whether I would in fact be able to make it to the top of the cliff (located 1,500 feet above the valley) where I could just about glimpse the white walls of the monastery. Paro is situated at about 7,000 feet above sea level, and every step up was getting more and more difficult.
This diminutive man from Dotey has been performing mask dance now for thirty years and counting. If health permits, Kaka expects to perform at the Paro Tshechu for another 10 years.
One of Bhutan’s major tourist attractions, the National Museum, housed in Paro Ta Dzong, will re-open only in 2015. The Ta Dzong suffered major structural damage during last year’s earthquake, rendering it inaccessible to the public for safety reasons.
Readers of a UK travel magazine, Wanderlust recently rated Paro airport as the best airport in the world.
Paro airport had an average rating of 92 percent, equal to Singapore’s Changi, and higher than Hong Kong international, and even Tokyo Narita.
Under a warm spring sun, and dressed in their finest ghos and kiras, Parops, pilgrims, and an almost equal number of tourists, celebrated the first day of Paro Tsechu, witnessing sacred dances performed in the cobble-stoned courtyard of the Paro Rinpung Dzong.
Zhiwa Ling is a fully Bhutanese owned luxury hotel in Paro. As a goodwill gesture from Zhiwa Ling, the professionals of the tourism industry (in Bhutan) were invited to spend the Saturday night (11 July) at their beautiful 45-room property in the upper reaches of the lush Paro valley. Such gestures are much appreciated. Thank you Zhiwa Ling.