Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Gross National Happiness: Bhutan

My wife and I did a cursory tour of the country that counts on Gross National Happiness to measure its people's well-being than anything else and we came back thoroughly impressed, not just by the looks of their superstar royal couple, but by what we saw. The whole country is pristine - lush forested mountains and blue-water rivers everywhere. Their architecture is distinctive - from humble dwellings to majestic fortresses and monasteries. But what we enjoyed most was their people - so ready to break into smiles and help. They must have the highest per-capita English proficiency outside the English-speaking world - thanks to their very enlightened monarch. Apparently, every subject in school in taught in English, except their Dzongkha language and culture. They speak English without any heavy trace of South Asian accent. Even though the meals that were organized for us by the local tour organiser were quite simple, they tasted good. Their national dress, which Bhutanese wear on all social occasions, make them look like samurais (maybe more elegantly so - with their black high stockings).

Some tourists might find their roads "third-world" but I was quite prepared to overlook this discomfort. After all, it is a land-locked country with a population of only about 700,000. Everything has to be imported!

Nepal to Bhutan, from the window of the aircraft

At Bhutan's Paro Airport, very safe indeed!

To Bhutanese, this is knowledge!

The real Shangri-La?

Even the figurines are happy! Salt or Pepper?

Sauna, Bhutan style

Welcome to my land!

No wonder he is so happy!

Sonam, the most witty tour guide I have come across!
Nepalese's national dress; don't they look like samurais?
Marijuana, what a surprise!
But smoking is banned in Bhutan

If you can reach it by foot, you don't need doctors anymore
Truly happy!!!


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