Oh so fortunate: Wow and Double Wow -- Thurs, 10/22/15

Still in Kathmandu, we were up at five with breakfast at six.  After breakfast, we drove thru deserted streets to the rather deserted airport (so different from our arrival!).  Today is the final day of Dashain, and most people are at home with their families.  One more thing we'll never forget is Krish telling us on our first day in Nepal that traffic signals were "meant to be suggestive only," as our little bus drove straight thru the red.  Crazy, yet it all seemed to work.  Our flight on a cute little Drukair Turbo-prop departed 9:30/ish for the tiny mountainous country of Bhutan, due east of Nepal. 

All aboard!

And it was a spectacular flight ...

... because I had a window seat with a magnificent full view of the Himalaya Mountain Range!

Windswept Mount Everest:  Earth's tallest mountain at 29,029 ft.

Kangchenjunga -- the third highest mountain in the world at 28,169 ft.

I sat glued to the window, thankful for such a clear day.

 Love the look of the airport terminal in Paro. 

Our little group of 11, plus Krish our Nepali guide, was met at the airport by Sonam, our Bhutanese guide. We had lunch in Paro, and then set out on an enchanting hour-and-a-half drive to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan.  We'll stay at Hotel Pedling for two nights.  This is rice country.and it's harvest time, most of it done by hand (because of small plots).  Our elevation is above 7,000 ft again, but our bodies have adjusted to these high altitudes and we scarcely notice it.  

Holy cow!  (so to speak)

Carrying large loads of grain uphill has to be backbreaking labor.

We came across this little chap near the bridge (photo below) over the River Wangchu.  His family had a roadside vegetable stand and he was sorting peppers.  Apparently we are in "pepper" country ... think spicy foods!

The confluence (chuzom) of the Thimphu River (Wang-chu) and the Paro River (Pa-chu).  Chu means river.

Wonderful Gateway Arch at Chuzom.

Bhutan has been a constitutional monarchy since 2008.  Between 1907 and the 1950's, Bhutan was an absolute monarchy.  The Bhutanese are proud of the fact that they have never been colonized (like most of the other countries in Southeast Asia).

Inside a road roundabout, we caught our first glimpse of the Four Harmonious Friends.  It's repeated throughout Bhutan and is a lovely story.  Now in Thimphu, we settled into our room at the hotel, and then visited ...  

The art of making paper is an ancient one.  Here they rely on local production, manual labor and artisan skill. The paper is made from the bark of Daphne Papyri and Edgeworthia Papyri, found growing at high altitudes.

Soaking fibers from papyri (mixed with additional ingredients).

As the worker peels thin wet papers off the stack to place on the heated drying rack (below), Sonam, our Bhutanese guide, stands ready to help.  He's dressed in the native Bhutanese dress.

I believe there is an art to everything.  You know there has to be skill and art involved -- these sheets are, well, they're paper thin!  I'd make such a mess here.

The paper-making factory offered items for sale.  Buying at these gift shops is always optional, but today Jimmy and I bought two small Thunder Dragon (Bhutan's national symbol) wall hangings, which, of course, were rolled and wrapped in hand-made paper.  It was another fascinating visit to see something most people never get to see. We returned to our hotel and dinner.  Thimphu looks like an interesting town, and probably a fun place to explore.


  1. Four Friends: how wonderful! Paper Making: very cool! Mountain views: breathtaking! You are so blessed and so lucky!

  2. Great shots of the Himalaya Mountain Range!

  3. How many of us have seen those mountains. Lucky day for you for sure! What a wonderful trip. The memories will last you a long time. Did you ever feel overloaded or overstimulated with all the complexity of cultures?

  4. Four Friends ... the world could learn so much from that story. Love those mountain shots.

  5. Dave Macaulay8:23 PM

    Amazing photos of the mountains. You were lucky to have such clear weather. Fantastic trip!


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