When someone tells you that there will be an early flight in the morning, it probably pays to believe them. As it turns out, early meant 0630 in the morning. Which lead in turn to a 0330 meeting in the hotel lobby. Getting to see the members of my new travel group just as thrilled went a long way in making up for the fact that I was going to miss the fabulous breakfast buffet at the hotel. The boxed breakfast, on the other hand was best served by being left on the table.
We were flying Royal Bhutanese Airlines – Druk Air. For those in the know – Druk just happens to mean dragon. There were eight of us in the group, the ninth person’s flight being delayed in leaving LAX (3 1/2 hours) with the obvious end result that she wasn’t able to make her connections). I sat next to a young Bhutanese couple returning home. He and I were attempting to take photos out of my 10A window seat. She was sleeping, exhausted with more than 24 hours continuous travel.
as always – please click on the photo to get a bigger view. Neither the hotel server nor your computer screen would appreciate full size photos.
Arrivals into Paro are normally in the morning due to winds. At only 7k+ feet (sorry about that), it is obviously not the highest airport but one of the most tricky at which to land. Haven’t experienced such weaving through a valley with drops since doing nap of the earth on blackhawks in 2010; those mountains actually being the eastern extension of this range.
Bhutan – dragged by the IVth king into the 20th century in the 1960 with the building of the first real road net work and controlled exposure to the outside world. Tourists are more than welcome as the second leading sector of the economy, but there is a catch. You have to be on an official tour. Your tour can be just yourself and the guide. No independent travel. In this case it is not like China or the former USSR in an effort to prevent you from going and speaking but rather to control numbers and minimize the impact on the environment. Their mountains are considered sacred. They don’t get climbed.
There is a national dress, it is often worn. In fact, dictated as office dress for government workers. The main road runs east-west with several intersecting north-south spines. The other immediate observation is that all of the architecture is in the same style. You can build what you want, but traditional elements are required; executed in quite a variety of ways
On our way to the capital we stopped to walk across the chain bridge
Made a stop at the Royal Textile Museum (no Cameras Allowed)
And the National Library where cameras were. The primary collection here are sacred Buddhist texts, primarily traditional ones where each page is separate.
and no, reshelving was not allowed.
From here – we headed to the hotel, most of us more than ready for a nap prior to dinner.