«

»

Visiting Thimphu, Bhutan

After a night of fitful sleep at Bangkok Airport and on a plane to Paro, we had finally arrived in beautiful Bhutan.  We stepped off the plane and soaked up the beauty of the Himalayas from our spot on the tarmac. Collecting us from Paro Airport was our wonderful guide, Tharchu Drukpa and his driver who would both accompany us on our six-day adventure. We were welcomed by a traditional white scarf and promptly fell asleep in the back of the car for the hour’s journey to the capital Thimphu. Our guide deposited us at our hotel, Le Meridien Thimphu for an energizing power nap.  Le Meridien is a lovely hotel, modern with a Bhutanese twist. The rooms are clean, spacious, with a very comfy bed.

An hour later we were up and excited to see Bhutan. First port of call was lunch at the delicious Cousin’s Restaurant. Here we had our first taste of delicious Bhutanese chicken curry, vegetable momo (dumpling) and deep-fried eggplant. Also accompanying most of our meals for the next six days, a generous bowl of Bhutanese red rice, apparently the only agricultural product exported from Bhutan.

We walked off lunch viewing the statue of Buddha Dordenma. Coming from Hong Kong we have our own ‘Big Buddha’ but this one stands at 51.5m made of bronze and is gilded in gold.

Our next cultural meander, was the fascinating National Institute for Zorig Chusum. Here Bhutanese youth are schooled in the 13 traditional art disciplines from wood carving to painting. You can walk through each of the classrooms and watch the students practice their craft.  

Students are on courses that can last up to six years and boarding facilities are provided.  As it was our first day in Bhutan, I wasn’t rushing to purchase souvenirs but I do regret not buying from the school’s show-room.

We then took a short drive the National library, home to numerous sacred scrolls and also one of the world’s biggest books.  Climbing vertiginous wooden stairs this was unlike any library I have ever experienced. Dotted around the library are photos of the Bhutanese Royal Family and our guide Tharchu gave us some interesting insight and history into the family.
Bhutan’s national animal is the takin, a rather interesting looking animal – think a cross between a goat and an antelope.  We got the chance to spy on this remarkable looking creature at the Motithang Takin Preserve. Originally a mini-zoo, it was converted into a preserve when it was discovered that the animals refrained from inhabiting the surrounding forest even when set free. 
Flagging somewhat, our guide realised we needed a quick caffeine boost before our final visit of the day to Tashichho Dzong.  We hit up ‘Coffee Culture’, a western style cafe with great beans. From here it was a short drive to the Dzong. If you’re wondering what a ‘dzong’ is (and you’ll hear about them A LOT in Bhutan travel writing), it is ‘ a fortified building that incorporates both administrative and monastic institutions. The dzongs in Bhutan serve as a focal point for the local community such as during Tsechus (religious festivals) and showcases the country’s artistic and intellectual heritage. Dzongs are usually built on hill tops or high ground for defensive reasons and tend to dominate the main towns of Bhutan’.
Tashichho Dzong has been the seat of the government since 1952 and presently houses the throne room and offices of the king, the secretariat and the ministries of home affairs and finance. Other government departments are housed in buildings nearby.  It also is the headquarters for central monastic body of Bhutan. Bhutan’s spiritual leader Je-Khenpo and the monks of both Thimphu and Punakha reside here during summer. This Dzong is open to the public after 5pm when the government workers have the left the building and it is worth getting in early to beat the queue and have the impressive building to yourself.
 
After a jam-packed filled day on seemingly little sleep, Tharchu dropped us off at Le Meridien Thimphu.  I was so thankful for the hotel steam room and pool, a superb place to unwind. We had a delicious Bhutanese buffet dinner in the hotel’s Sese Shamu restaurant and were in bed by about 9pm!

 

4 comments

Skip to comment form

  1. Elizabeth

    This seems like an amazing day! Those artists at the school are so talented! Bhutan is on my wish list and hopefully we will make it to Asia soon until then I will live vicariously through your posts! #CityTripping

  2. beatravelling

    Butan sounds like something I wanna do!!

  3. Ladies What Travel (@LadiesWTravel)

    What an amazing experience! I really hope to visit Bhutan one day! #CityTripping

  4. Elizabeth (Wander Mum)

    What a fascinating place to visit! I’m so keen to visit Bhutan so looking forward to reading your posts! Thanks for linking #citytripping

Leave comment