I have been in Bhutan for 1 1/4 days now. And what a difference from Nepal! So far all of the roads have been paved and they even have striping on them! Unlike Nepal where I only saw one road with striping and it was so worn out if you weren’t looking for it, you wouldn’t know it was there. They have “Zebra” crosswalks here that everyone uses and the cars even stop for you before you even enter one. There is no trash on the sides of the roads or in the rivers. And they tell me there is fish in the rivers. Not in Nepal, the rivers are so polluted with garbage and anything else they dump in them, there is no way a fish could survive.
Bhutan has 2 major industries. Number one is hydroelectric power. Which they have an excess of so they sell it to India. Number two is tourism. All tourists, except people from India, have to have a trained guide and a seperate driver with them. It isn’t inexpensive though. It is the off season now and the minimum price per day is $210 per person and includes all meals, guide, driver entrance fees and staying in 3 star hotels. Since I am traveling alone, I pay an extra $40 a day. $60 of the $250 fee goes to the health and schooling of all residents. I am also covered while in Bhutan. No one here pays for regular schooling or medical treatment. Prescriptions are also fully covered.
The guide tells me that there are no beggars here. And most people live in comfortable homes. All with electricity. I have seen a couple of shacks near the road that don’t look so good. These are road workers from India and they travel to where the road work is.
Kathmandu from above.
Boudhanath Stupa from above.
Swayambhunath Stupa from above.
Himalayas with Mount Everest in the center.
Short runway at Paro, Bhutan
My guide Sonar. He is wearing the typical clothes of a Bhutanese. All guides have to wear this type of clothing. No trousers or shirts allowed. He will only be with me for 1.5 days. His one and a half year old daughter has 2 holes in her heart and needs an operation in India.
Large stupa dedicated to the last King of Bhutan.
Thimphu the largest city in Bhutan. 100,000 people.
Very large statue of Buddha being built on a hill overlooking Thimphu. It will take 2 more years to finish at a proposed cost of $100,000,000. Ninety percent of the cost was donated by 2 benefactors. One from Singapore and the other from Thailand. It is 174′ tall and will house 4 different temples inside when finished.
Deities facing large Buddha statue making coverings to Buddha.
The statue itself is made out of bronze. The base is covered in gold ceramic tiles. Inside the base there is one temple already built. The walls are covered in hand painted paintings and there are 5 large statues and thousands of small ones. No photos allowed.
This is where the king and queen live. He is 34 and loved by everyone. This fort was built in the 16th century. There are 20 districts in Nepal (similar to states in the US) and everyone one of them has a fort where the high officials live. This district has 2 because the oldest one in Buthan is here but is too small to house the king and queen and all of the government buildings.
Fort at night.
Guards at the Royal Fort. The only people with guns in this country are the military. The police don’t have guns and none of the population have guns.
Market place only open on weekends. The top floor is dedicated to local Bhutanese produce and is all organic. The bottom floor is vegetables from India and is non-organic and some of it is GMO. Six months ago the King, concerned about the people of Bhutan, ordered that all produce grown in Bhutan would be organic. Just like everywhere else in the world it costs more but at least they have a choice now.
A clean river. Most of the architecture I have seen so far is very similar to Tibetan. Every building has a taste of Tibet to it. 90% of the country is Buddhist, 8% is Hindu and 2% is Christian. They practice Mahayana Buddhism which is similar to some of the schools of Tibetan Buddhism but they do not recognize the Dalai Lama as being anything special to their form of Buddhism other than he is a Buddhist admired the world over. In Tibetan Buddhism you will see a picture of the Dalai Lama on a throne in all of the temples. Here you won”t.
Road with real striping on it! And all of it thermoplastic.
I will be traveling to another city today and hope to post more tonight.