Monday, September 27, 2010

Bhutan: Land of Dragon

Rice Fields on the Road as we leave Paro.

After a very  long  odyssey, I finally made it to Bhutan!. It took two days of travel followed by an 8 hour road trip to make it in time to the festival in the town of Bumthang.  The combined trip + jet-lag + high altitude + himalayan one lane hilly and very, very, very curvy road! was needless to say: Exhausting  (and not much appreciated by my stomach : ) ). Fortunately my  delicious breakfast of  aspirin , pepto and  dramamine did the trick.
So you may ask the question:  Why Bhutan?? Was this part of a spiritual quest to find enlightenment to my very earthly and very mundane existence???  Was this an effort to find the last Shangri-La?? Am I trying to mimic the monk who sold his Ferrari to make sense of the world? (and no...I do not have a Ferrari!).
The perhaps disappointing but truthful answer is: No. The trip to Bhutan represents  the chance to see a completely different way of life, a departure from my own relative realty and, quite simply, a chance on exploring yet another new place in our little Blue Planet (and to take lots of pictures!).
Bhutan is actually quite an extraordinary choice. A small country with about seven hundred thousand  people in population with a deeply rooted Buddhist tradition.  There are only about twenty thousand cars and only about thirty thousand people visit Bhutan each year. The king made a point on limiting mass tourism by imposing a minimum daily  fee  for foreigners to spend, thus maintaining a low impact on its country, tradition and culture. He has also made a point in focusing on “ Gross National Happiness”  as opposed to just focusing on Gross National product
Children on the road.  

About 70% of the country is covered with forests and the landscape is truly  exceptional. An expansive plethora of extraordinary imagery, colors and smells.  Its just beautiful and a photographers dream.
But so far the most  remarkable thing I have encountered, without a doubt, is the people. The Bhutanese are extremely warm, friendly, and humble. Their traditions are very rich and ample. They cherish and maintain them and its just pleasurable to see that despite the rapid changes that we are seeing in the world they have not lost their anchor point. 
There are actually many things to be learned from this Himalayan country and I am just happy to be here.


Bhutanese Monk studying in Wangdichholing.  This shot was taken while the monks were studying during the afternoon.  The light, the setting and their dedication were magical.
Wangdichholing. Study Room.

Portrait session in Bumthang Dzong

While taking the pictures one of my guides, Karma, took a picture of me.
Him and Tzering have been instrumental in making an incredible experience and I am very thankful to have them.
Young Monks Running in Punakha Temple

Double Rainbow Bumthang

Late afternoon landscape

Two young monks in Rice field.

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