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Legendary Cultures
March 12 to April 1 2011
Day 1 (London)  |  Day 2 (Lille)  |  Day 3 (London)  |  Lapland  |  Armenia  |  Mongolia  |  Lijiang China  |  Papua New Guinea  |  Indonesia  |  Calcutta  |  Bhutan - Day 1  |  Bhutan - Day 2  |  Petra  |  Turkey  |  Reprise

BHUTAN - Day 2

Today we took a long drive to Thimphu, the capitol of Bhutan. We were informed that we were lucky because the road we were traveling on was just constructed several years ago. It used to be a one lane 40 mile road through the mountains with nothing but curves that were, for the most part, blind. Some of the road still seems like one lane. It is a joy to be in our bus when a truck is coming from the other direction. The drive reminded me of traveling through some of our mountain states, with a river in the valley below both framed by mountains.

In fact, the infrastructure of the country is minimal indeed. There is only one airport, in Paro where we are staying, and it has a fairly short landing strip. Only Bhutanese pilots are allowed to land here because the last 20 or so miles of the trip requires the pilots to thread a needle between the tall mountains. Commercial planes typically do not try to land in the afternoon due to the wind conditions. In fact, the wind is so strong that roofs made of corrugated metal are piled with stones. The constructed roofs have wire from the edges of the roof to the ground to anchor the roofs.

Our first stop in Thinphu was at the Dechenn Phodrang Monastery. It looked pretty much like the monasteries we visited yesterday, even to the same decorations and murals. What was different was that the monks were in sight everywhere and the children were playing like kids anywhere (although I saw two boys rolling hoops - I don't think I have ever seen this before). They were even playing soccer, holding up their robes a bit to kick the ball. It was, like most of the monasteries, situated high on a hill overlooking the city. The view encompassed the kingdom's beautiful administration buildings as well as the Kings home.

We then went to a place called RENEW - an organization dedicated to aiding disadvantaged women (read abused). A worthy place but once again, a strange place to be bringing a bunch of tourists as a sightseeing stop. From there we went to another farm, this time not a working farm but more a museum.

Because the afternoon promised more of the same, our bus rebelled and said that we wanted to be taken to a market and to do some have shopping. We love markets as a place where the real natives can be found doing their daily tasks without expecting to be the subject of a tourist's camera. I particularly love the children in these places. After the market, the buses were then divided between those people who wanted to shop and those who wanted to go back to the hotel. We shopped.

Finally, before we took our long journey back to the hotel, we visited the Memorial Chorten dedicated to an early religious leader. It was crowded with locals who use the holy place as a locus of devotion by walking around the main structure chanting prayers and spinning prayer wheels. There were numerous older people there but also a respectable number of younger persons. There were also auxiliary buildings which housed huge prayer wheels and places for the monks to chant and play music.

Tomorrow will be our longest travel day. Although there was some consternation on the part of some of the passengers about going to Jordan, the tour company has an advance man on the ground and are convinced that we are safe.

Hope they are right!



Day 1 (London)  |  Day 2 (Lille)  |  Day 3 (London)  |  Lapland  |  Armenia  |  Mongolia  |  Lijiang China  |  Papua New Guinea  |  Indonesia  |  Calcutta  |  Bhutan - Day 1  |  Bhutan - Day 2  |  Petra  |  Turkey  |  Reprise



HOME  |  AUSTRALIA 2003  |  ACROSS AMERICA  |  IMPRESSIONS OF CHINA  |  VIETNAM  |  AFRICA  |  AROUND THE WORLD 2009  |  SOUTH AMERICA 2009  |  LEGENDARY CULTURES 2011
  |  TURKEY AND GREECE  |  CIRCLE THE ARCTIC