In 1972, the 4th King of Bhutan, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, declared that “Gross National Happiness” is more important than Gross Domestic Product. This concept measures a much broader perspective, including nine domains: Psychological well being Health Education Time use Cultural diversity and resilience Good governance Community vitality Ecological diversity and resilience Living standards While it is not the simple “happiness” commonly known, this Gross National Happiness index does convey a message to the world that Bhutan government cares about the overall wellbeing of the individuals. The High and The Low Bhutan is the world’s greenest country with over 70% of land covered by forest. With around 800,000 population living in 38,394 square kilometers of land, Bhutan’s population density is one of the lowest in the world. Culture & Traditions When it comes to culture, polygamy is probably the most unique one. It is legal for men and women to have multiple wives and husbands at the same time. The 4th King of Bhutan has 4 queens. Isn’t it the dream of most men?! Divorce is acceptable, not a disgraceful…

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.

Kurjey Lhakhang is an important temple complex in Central Bhutan where Guru Rinpoche left a body print after his meditation in a cave. In 1962, the first temple was built and dedicated to Guru Rimpoche. In fact, the temple is named after his body print: Kur (body) jey (print) Lhakhang (temple). The temple complex is impressive with a huge front yard. Each of the temple has multi-levels. Of course the most important one is the Guru Lhakhang where the holiest place is. The entrance to the temple is one level above ground where there is a large incense burner. In Bhutan, cypress trees are abundant and considered valuable natural resources. People burn branches and leaves of cypress trees as incense. The structure of the temples is as spectacular as the fortresses with huge white washed walls and delicate wood carving and hand paintings. The second temple was built by the first king when he was still the Governor of Trongsa in 1900. The third temple was built by the queen of the third king. This temple complex the final resting…

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.

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