We ushered in the New Year in the Kingdom of Bhutan. Go big or go home, that is the motto of this trip of ours! Flying from Delhi to Paro we passed over the Himalayas with our captain coming over the speaker, “If you look to your left, we are now flying by Everest.” Majestic doesn’t even begin to explain the view.
We continued to be awed by Bhutan, a tiny gem of a country, for the rest of the week, traveling to monasteries, Buddhist temples, visiting villages seemingly set back 100 years in time, and hiking the epic mountain trail to the Tiger’s Nest.
The people of Bhutan are extremely friendly, and adore children. We were treated with such kindness during our travels. That is what will stay with me the most when I think back on our time here. There is an innocence here, and yet since the introduction of television and internet in 1999 you can see the quickly moving trend towards modernization. There is one image that will always stay with me from our visit- I was at a monastery, hoping to see the chanting of the mantras which was to begin at 6pm. I had Vik with me and we wandered around as we waited. I was wondering where all the monks were when we happened upon the prayer hall where 50 monks were all gathered around a small television watching a Bollywood action film. Truly a sign of the times.
Our favorite outing was one that happened by pure chance. We stopped by the side of the road on our way back to the hotel from sightseeing. The boys had a bag of trucks with them and they pulled them out and began playing with the kids who were hanging around. They played for the next two hours (poor Vik- they all wanted to carry him around, much to his dismay), and their family invited us for lunch.
We sat in their humble but warm home and they shared with us their tightly rationed food, all made just for us- aloo poori and ema datshi. We didn’t speak the same language and could hardly communicate, but through food and play we bonded, and it was such a special afternoon.
On our last day in Bhutan I hiked to the Tiger’s Nest. It was quite a hike, one that I did without the boys. It was steep and once you reached the top, it was still 700 stairs to get the monastery. The most amazing part was to think how such a thing could have been built in such a remote location back in 1684. I tied prayer flags, one for each member of my family, to a tree at the very top of the trail. It warms my heart to think that blessings for our family are flying high above the clouds on a mountainside in Bhutan. Happy New Year friends- I have a feeling 2014 is going to be a good one.