When we were flying over to Bhutan from Kathmandu, we were amazed at the sight we saw. We got to see the Himalayas, including Mt. Everest. It was really awesome! There weren’t too many people on the plane, but when I looked back, every single person had moved to the side of the plane where you could see the Himalayas.
The other incredible thing that happened on this flight was the pilots let me look into the cockpit. The view was all full of clouds, so I had no idea how they could navigate the trip. When we were close to the airport, we saw many mountains and they were covered in trees and our plane seemed like it was getting really close to them, so it felt like we were going to clip a tree with our wing, but we arrived safely on the runway.
On our way to Thimphu, we stopped at Tamchong Lhakhang, which is a beautiful bridge that is made out of iron chain links that were built by a famous TIbetan chain bridge builder. It was really scary and exciting to walk across the bridge, because the water was violently moving which made me feel like I was the one violenty moving. So, I decided to run across the bridge. Walking across this bridge was like someone telling me Bhutan was going to be the best place I had ever been to and so far that is true.
After checking into out hotel and having lunch, we stopped by a huge stupa called National Memorial Chorten. A stupa is a dome-shaped building that is used to honor Buddhist monks or nuns or people who have died and is a place of meditation. While I was there, I was picking flowers and a sweet Bhutanese girl came up to me and asked me if I liked flowers and I told her I did. She told me she liked roses and we traded my white flowers for a rose she picked for me. It made me feel very happy to make a Bhutanese friend.
It was a great day!
Two days later, we packed up and hopped into our van with our guide and headed out on a 3-hour winding road journey to Punakha, Bhutan. I slept half of the way, but when we were at the top of the mountain at 10,000 feet, I woke up and walked around the site of 108 stupas that were in honor of Buddha’s 108 good deeds. It made me think that Buddha was a very honorable person.
Later in the day we visited the Punakha Dzong, which is a fortress that sits right between where the Mother and Father rivers meet. The Dzong was built in 1637 to serve as a place for the Buddhist monks and for the offices of the government. It has been damaged five times but has been fully restored every time by the present King. We went through the Dzong and a maze of halls and temples. In one small temple, you make a prayer and the statue of Buddha will make it come true. I offered the Buddha some money offering, and the monk poured some holy water into my hands, and the way you use the holy water is to sip it and put it into your hair. I like the taste of it and it tastes minty. I felt proud getting the blessing.
I thought it was really pretty and I left feeling a little kinder.
Here are some interesting facts about Bhutan that you may or may not know already:
- 700,000 people live in Bhutan
- People dry chilies on the roofs of their houses
- The national dish here is chili cheese (they love spice)
- Red rice is native to Bhutan
- The national animal is the Takin, which looks like a mix between moutain goat, antelope and ox
- The national sport is archery
- You can see red rice on the fields because they are the dark patches on the fields
- More than 52% of the country are under the age of 40, including the king
- The king studied in USA at Harvard and England at Oxford (they really love him here!)
- All power is hydro power in Bhutan and can provide 35,000 megawatts of electricity
- 72% of the land is covered with trees and wildlife
- 60% of the land is preserved for future generations
- 52% of the land is protected
- 49,623 trees were planted in one hour, which was a world record
- Most trees are pine, spruce, cyress, poplar and teak
- They now have a ban on exporting their trees
- If you cut down a tree, you must plant two in place of the one you cut down
Bhutan is a really special place to me.