As a practitioner of Buddhism, Bhutan is one places to visit for its distinct national culture of being predominantly Buddhist.
There is a daily flight to Bhutan from Singapore operated by Drukair that departs at 0630am.
You will be boarding the plane via bus so you would not want to miss the boarding time at 0530am.
Somehow, I have the impression that the A319 provides ample legroom for an average-built person like me.
This is the first time i enjoyed reading through the entire inflight magazine. It is more like a glimpse of Bhutan while you are heading there where stories are shared and experiences condensed.
If you are an avid hiker, you should consider doing so in Bhutan where 70% of land is covered by mountains. Such information is provided in the magazine as well.
The plane would make a stop at Kolkata, India after 4.5hours for a brief refueling before arriving at Paro International airport where only a small group of pilots are able to land on a runway sitting alongside a valley.
Can you imagine disembarking the plane and be greeted with a scenery that is only common in screen wallpaper for city-dwellers?
You will also be greeted with a family portrait of the 5th King and his newly born prince. :)
The airport's design is fairly minimalist and reflects the bhutanese architecture style.
There's only one conveyor belt unloading the passenger's baggage and people are kind enough to push them inwards them so that it does not bump into anything beyond the belt!
On the journey from Paro to Thimphu, we stopped by a bridge built using iron chains. It is said that there's a master who taught the bhutanese the art of blacksmithing and this bridge is the original one built back in the 1300s. As you will along the area, it is easy to notice the floor glimmering under the sun, hinting its richness in iron minerals.
There are also prayer wheels available for you to say your prayer and accumulate good merits.
We had vegetarian lunch with a generous buffet serving of vegetables such as asparagus, fern and many more. However, what really caught my eye was the bright pinkish ice cream that is made locally. Delicious (i had 2 bowls)!
Along the streets, you will see craftsmen hand painting the exterior of a building. I don't think a machine is anywhere close to what he's capable of.
This is a view of the street in a country with new traffic lights!
The next stop is at Buddha Point where a 51.3 metre tall bronze statue of Shakyamuni Buddha! Inside, it houses thousands of buddha statue and scriptures and the construction is close to completion.
Next up is a visit to the local marketplace! It looks small but there's so much going on inside.
This caught our attention the moment we entered the second floor. This string (literally) of cheese is hard to the core and trying to chew off a chunk would break your teeth! Although you can smell it from far, the tasty is fairly mild.
For some reason, Bhutanese are very into chilli.
Being a buddhist country, taking the life of an animal is prohibited by law. You can, however, purchase imported poultry from the marketplace.
Incense for your daily prayer needs is also readily available.
Wide variety of fruits grown locally.
It happened that there is a carnival going on with a mix of games and product booths and we went over to check it out.
Our tour guide explained that the Queen was having a session with representatives from various valley to understand the problem they were facing and gather information on areas that she can channel more resources to.
We were extremely fortunate as this event only happens once a year and it's cool to see them openly sharing their problems and the Queen replying while everyone else listened. I guess that's their way of having transparency in the system?
This was the only photo that I managed to take before the guard came over to inform us not to do so. It is explained that people misused the photos, made edits and the like which explained the photo restriction.
The hotel room is extremely spacious and I am intrigued by their ability to provide decent cable tv channels!
I am impressed by how they take time to share with you the background and information about the hotel that you are staying. It definitely made my stay more enjoyable. :)
That simple looking bitter gourd is like the best that I have ever eaten. Their cooking style is straightforward. Some frying, stir-frying or roasting and some salt and tada.
And yes, dinner concluded well with that honey coated banana dessert!