Textile is a major industry for eastern women in Bhutan. Most of the expensive weaving products are woven by hand. In the old days, weaving products are form of tax payment to the government. Today, the hand woven products in Bhutan commands a high price. Of course it has to do with the complexity of the pattern, too. A Bhutanese silk dress (Kira) which is basically a big piece of fabric fixed to the waist by a belt may costs up to over USD 1,000. That was the price in Paro city. Other than the eastern part of Bhutan, many weaving products come from the central area. If you travel to Bumthang, stopping over a weaving shop is usually on the itinerary. Check it out when you are there.
Bhutan may be small on the world map but it’s really big if the only means of transportation is by car. There is no trains nor domestic airports yet. I think that it’s nice to stay that way even though it takes a bit more time commuting. More vehicles, tracks and airports means more pollution. So you will spend quite a lot of time sitting in a car, particularly if you travel to the central Bhutan. At the moment, there is only one highway connecting the west the east. There is a road widening project going on right now that makes the road bumpy and some times rock falls and mud slides, making the commute more challenging. It is more challenging in the summer when it rains a lot. Having said that, it’s not all that boring on a long car ride. Bhutan is a lush country with a lot of trees and valleys. It’s beautiful everywhere and you will often see some yaks and cows herding along the road. Anther interesting thing is this type of trucks. Local people…
When I travel to Bumthang to see the Jakar Tshechu Festival, I stayed in this Yagharling Hotel which is up on the hill and not too far from Jakar Dzong. The hotel has a restaurant, a bar with pool table, conference facilities and free wifi but it is limited to the restaurant and bar area. There is no wifi in the room. The room is really spacious. There are two double beds, a dresser, two sitting areas, and a balcony. Besides, there are 3 electric heaters, 2 in the room and 1 in the bathroom which is very important in the winter. Well, I went to Bumthang in November. It was warm when the sun is out in the morning but it was freezing at night.
Tshechu means “Day Ten” is an annual religious festival held on the 10th of the month in every district of Bhutan. It is an annual event and each district holds the event at different time of the year. Spring and autumn are the best seasons visiting Bhutan when the sky is clear and weather is nice and there are some major festivals around the country that you may attend.
Rinchenling Lodge is one of the local three stars guest houses for foreign tourists in Bumthang, central Bhutan. There are around 20 standard rooms for twin sharing, a few deluxe rooms and 2 suites in an independent house.
It takes about 8 hours to drive from west of Bhutan to Bumthang in Central region. Trongsa is the gateway to the central region and is often one of the places where you take a break for lunch and or coffee. While there may be many options but I can only recommend and share what I have experienced first hand.
For those who travel to Bhutan for 5-7 days, particularly the first time visitor, you will probably just spend the time in the western region which covers the most popular tourist destinations, including the Tiger’s nest and Paro Dzong in Paro; the big buddha and Dochula Pass in Thimphu; and Punakha Dzong. If you have more time, there are a lot more to see in central Bhutan but there is a long ride.
Built in 1648, Trongsa Dzong has been a significant fortress in Bhutan where the first two kings ruled the kingdom from this seat of power. Most of the dzongs or fortresses were built in strategic locations around the same time (1600s) to protect the country from the Tibetan invasion. This Trongsa Dzong, particularly, locates on the ridge of the mountain right on the pathway between the western region and the central/eastern regions, becoming an important gateway in Bhutan.
When you make your travel plan to Bhutan, you can only fly on Drukair or Bhutan Airlines which only operates a direct flights to and from Bangkok, Singapore, Nepal and India. All of the flights flying into Paro International Airport are in the morning so there is a need to stay over another country for the flight transfer. Hence many travellers or tour groups would combine the Bhutan trip with Nepal or India. For travellers from Hong Kong or the neighboring countries/cities, Bangkok would be an easier stop over because of the abundant flight availability and it is one of the hottest travel destinations. It’s not a bad idea to get a spa and enjoy delicious Thai food before and after the Bhutan trip.