Bhutan – Land of the Dragon People
December 9, 2021 9:42 am By Dani Johnson
Bhutan is a must-see destination -- one for the bucket list, including seeing the Himalayan mountains up close and personally. Movies such as Seven Years in Tibet (with Brad Pitt) are award-winning not just because of the acting and story but for the location and the exotic, unbelievable scenery. Experiencing this country will leave an indelible imprint and restore faith in traveling off the beaten path.
People will ask, “Where is Bhutan?” before you leave on this unforgettable trip. This beautiful, harmonious, and extraordinary country borders India and China with daily flights from Singapore and Bangkok via Drukair. The flight exudes an old-world feel; very luxurious, attentive flight attendants and delicious food. The aircraft are state of the art and wonderfully appointed.
Each Six Senses Lodge has unique temples, monasteries, treks, and farmer markets. It is incredible to fathom the over 1,000 monasteries and temples in Bhutan. The Bhutanese are warm, hospitable, and joyous. Bright smiles and customary prayer bows welcome you. The slogan in Bhutan is GNH (Gross National Happiness). Traveling throughout this country is the most authentic experience that encourages introspection. Your pace becomes slower, more methodical, and you notice the little things. One of the famous lines in the movie “As Good as It Gets” involves Jack Nicholson telling Helen Hunt: “You make me want to be a better man.” The Bhutanese people embody all that is good in the world.
Your Bhutan adventure begins by flying into Paro and beginning your journey in one of the other four valleys; Thimphu, Punakha, Gangtey, Bumthang -- and your last stop will be Paro. There are two reasons you end in Paro. The first includes the fact you do not have the long drive back on the day you fly out. The second reason is that this is the valley where you access the infamous Tiger’s Nest. It certainly makes sense to trek each day and lead up to the most significant -- and challenging -- excursion.
The beauty and cleanliness of the country will strike you when you arrive in Paro and step off the plane. A regal painting of the King, his wife, and his son greets you on the side of the building. These people are proud of their royal family, their traditions; and embrace the customs of their beloved country and Buddhist religion. While traveling throughout Bhutan, you will continue to see pictures of the royal family and people who share the adoration by wearing pins with the royal emblem.
After meeting your guide and driver, the 1.5-hour journey to Thimphu commences, meandering through valleys, across rivers, and passing many temples and dogs. Yes, dogs are everywhere in Bhutan, and there is a saying that the first and last bite of food goes to the dog. The slaughtering of animals does not occur in this country. You can buy meat at the market; however, it is all imported since killing animals is not permitted. You do not have to be an animal lover to marvel at such a momentous recognition of living beings, nor to save a bite of food each day for one of the dogs.
Arriving into the Six Senses Thimphu is simply astounding. You are greeted immediately with warm, friendly, and sincere smiles. After accepting your warm towel, you stroll into the most serene lodge. Gorgeous hardwood floors, a roaring fireplace, and a view of the snow-capped mountains are all it takes for you to realize that this lodge and your time here will be extraordinary. The natural beauty of Six Senses Thimphu is almost impossible to describe adequately. It is perfect. The General Manager, Sally Baughen, operates these properties as though visitors are her own family. The staff adores Sally, and she has the unique ability to be highly professional while at the same time incredibly warm and welcoming, not to mention her loyal dog -- the most adorable creature.
Traveling throughout Bhutan is an experience like no other -- invites to private prayers, visits to local farmer markets, hiking to several iconic sites, and finally, the trip to Tiger’s Nest. It is a trip that will leave you feeling profoundly thankful for taking, and one that everybody should experience. It restores faith in travel and touches the heart. Bhutan is a must-visit destination, and Six Senses’ lodges will surpass every expectation -- and leave you wondering, “When can I come back to this stunning country.”
Another Andalusian favorite is Sopa de Salmorejo. Unlike its chunkier and red-colored cousin, gazpacho, salmorejo is creamy, orange-hued, and void of seeds. It often comes with a garnish of chopped hard-cooked eggs, croutons, olive oil, finely chopped green pepper, and even Ibérico ham, the local delicacy.
Written by Dani Johnson, VP of Coastline Travel Group
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