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Bhutan: Images of a glorious experience

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This is is my last blog post (out of six) about Bhutan, unless I think of something else to write about or maybe I’ll get really lucky and get to go back.  I would, actually, like to do that.   Two weeks in the Land of the Thunder Dragon was great, but it simply wasn’t enough for me.  It left me wanting to return.

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 But…..on to this blog post.  It’s a rather random compilation of images and topics I haven’t covered yet and would like to share.  Hope you enjoy.

Several people have asked me about hotels.  They ranged from absolutely fabulous, elegant and posh to pretty basic.  There was one in the Bumthang Valley where the floor boards were curling up and we had electric heaters.

 I enjoyed one right near a rushing river that felt like a cabin in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

The one with a wood burning stove in our room challenged my fire building skills, but I got it going.  We had hot water bottles for our feet there.   I was cozy and warm and happy.

All were clean and the staff very welcoming.  I was always comfortable. Here are two of the hotels.

 

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 I really enjoyed the funny little every day experiences like watching these kids try to get the dog to carry the toddler on its back while taking photos with a cell phone.

Fortunately,  no one got hurt.

 Please note the Chorten (religious structure) in the background.

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This is how our guide learned about road closings.  We encountered them on a section where the roads were being widened and repaired.

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Here’s where the children in one small village went after school to buy a snack.

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I smiled at the Indian trucks.  If you have been to India you know they like to decorate their vehicles and hang on the horn.

Be sure to note the spot in the village for truck parking. Apparently, it is also a good spot for drying laundry.

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Here’s a glorious blue sky day with the clouds nestled in valleys with prayer flags in the foreground.

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I took this on a morning walk before breakfast.  By the time breakfast was over, the mountain was in full view.

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This poster made me think of Gross National Happiness–the Bhutanese approach to their government.  It’s all about “Being Happy” in Bhutan.

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 We went to a couple of markets.  Oh my, I could have stayed longer at both.  Watching the locals buy and sell their vegetables for the week was such a treat.   I also saw lots of chatting and mixing and mingling.

 It was the weekend, so we saw more people in western dress at the market.  In Bhutan, the people wear their National Dress to work.

I’m not sure what the Monk was doing or what that gadget was all about, but I put a donation on his table.

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And here’s a souvenir shop.  If you read the blog about ornamentation you know all about the Phallic symbols on the buildings.  Here you can buy wooden ones to bring home to your friends.  It was right near the temple dedicated to the Divine Mad Monk from the 15th century who started the practice.

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One of my disappointments was not getting to meet or see a Thangkha painter in action.  Evidently he didn’t come to work the day we meandered by.  Thangkha painting is the traditional religious painting done in Bhutan. If he had been there, I would have asked why he feels the need for three locks on the door. Seems like such a peaceful country.  I never felt unsafe.

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Absolutely one of my favorite experience was the few hours we spent at a Festival. This is a really big deal in Bhutan. If I were to go back I’d schedule more time at Festivals.  I loved the music, the dress, the dancing and would love to understand more about the symbolism.  It seemed quite magical to me.

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And lastly I’m including photos I took of the monks and nuns. Remember this country is 95% Buddhist.  They absolutely captivated me.  We had a chance to talk to a few, but I would have enjoyed more time.  I think that’s why I need to return.

 

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As I said, I loved shooting images of the monks and nuns.  Do note the Four Friends fabric hanging to the right of the group.  This is a famous story in Bhutan about how the animals cooperated to reach the fruit hanging high in the tree and all survived as a result.  Images of this story can be seen all around Bhutan.  And yes, I found some in Paro on t-shirts to bring home to my granddaughters.

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I only saw headgear like this once but our guide, Sha, told me this style is only worn by the monks.  Being a former fashion, writer, I was fascinated.

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Aren’t these little boys just the cutest?  Up until the 1950s, the only way a child could get an education was to belong to a wealthy family and be tutored or be sent to a Monastery to be educated by the monks.

These boys  will have opportunities when they are older to leave the monastery or to remain for more training and study to become a monk

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This is the last of six blog posts about Bhutan on DesignDestinations.org.  I traveled with GeoEx. Click here for the GeoEx Website.

Post Author
Susan J. Smith
Susan's career includes writing for newspapers, lots of community work and a wonderful family life. Now she is enjoying traveling, photography and writing for DesignDestinations and Grand Rapids Magazine. She welcomes you on her journey and appreciates your comments.

Comments

8 Comments
  1. posted by
    Linda
    Jun 8, 2015 Reply

    Really enjoyed your posts about Bhutan! It’s wonderful you want to come back. I giggled when I read that two weeks wasn’t long enough. Uh oh! Thanks for pointing me to these posts, and let’s have tea when you do come back. Also, if you want to see a thangka painter working we can press Namgay into service. xo

    • posted by
      Susan J. Smith
      Jun 12, 2015 Reply

      Thank you, Linda. I enjoyed your books. Read “Married to Bhutan” twice actually. Once before going to Bhutan and then it was really fun to read again after we returned. I could visualize much of what you wrote about. If I get back to Bhutan I’d love to meet up with you and meet your husband.

  2. posted by
    Molly Crist
    Jun 10, 2015 Reply

    I love those photos! I just spent 2 weeks in Leh, Ladakh, Northern India. It’s a Tibetan Buddhist region in the Himalayas and it seems similar to Bhutan based on your photos. Bhutan is now high on my list! Sounds like you had a wonderful experience, thanks for sharing photos and stories.

    • posted by
      Susan J. Smith
      Jun 13, 2015 Reply

      Thanks, Molly,

      I have enjoyed following your trip on Facebook. What a fabulous opportunity to spend the trim traveling for months. You’ve had some real adventures.

      If you get back to GR I hope you’ll look us up. Would enjoy reconnecting.

      Bhutan is most definitely a place to see and sooner rather than later.

  3. posted by
    JoAnne Tompkins
    Jun 12, 2015 Reply

    Thank you so much for these blog posts! I have loved every one. You have such a knack for finding the small moments and details that make us connect as people. And, somehow you also manage to capture the big events like the festival from different angles: community and spectacle, definitely, but also with an eye for particular and individual experience. Wonderful!

    • posted by
      Susan J. Smith
      Jun 13, 2015 Reply

      I so appreciate your comments, especially since we were in Bhutan together. I hope we can stay connected and maybe travel together again some time.

  4. posted by
    Michelle Slikkers
    Jul 6, 2015 Reply

    Who needs National Geographic when we have Susan Smith! Thank you for taking us on your trip via photos! I enjoyed each and every blog.

    • posted by
      Susan J. Smith
      Jul 6, 2015 Reply

      You are such a good friend. Always encouraging me. Thank you.

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