Landing in Paro International Airport, we were surprised at the look and design of the building. It looked like a painting of an old Buddhist monastery. Looking around the airport, we were among the clouds. There were mountains all around and we stood in awe of the scenery. We realized later on that the landing strip was just a precursor to what was to be expected later on when we drove from Paro to Thimphu.
Our tour guide, Pema Wangchuk, dressed in local garb, welcomed us with warm handshakes and proceeded to answer our numerous questions about the culture, geography and people of Bhutan. An hour’s drive to Thimphu allowed us to drink in the sights of the highway. We checked into the Phuntsho Pelri, after much disappointment from my sister because the travel agency messed up our reservations. We were then taken to an authentic Bhutanese restaurant named ‘The Bhutanese”. It was a buffet spread with everything Bhutanese from the dishes to the beer. There was one dish that tickled our tastebuds – chilli cheese. It is simply cheese, green or red chillis and oil cooked to make a mix of melting cheese and spicy chillis. There was also red rice and maize rice, chicken, potato with chilli and riverweed soup, which we did not appreciate at all! The brother in law had the local beer called ‘Druk Lager’
We then proceeded to tour the city of Thimphu. We first visited the Memorial Museum which paid homage to the previous 4 kings of Bhutan. Having gained unity in 1907, Bhutan has had 5 kings since then, with the 5th king recently getting married in 2011. The Memorial Museum reminded me of the many stupas that I saw in Sri Lanka. Our next stop was Buddha Point, 2500 metres above level. It was simply a huge statue of Lord Buddha, 4 to 5 storeys high, surrounded by mountains. We then went to visit an authentic Farmer’s market that made us witness to the hustle and bustle of vegetable and fruit sellers in Bhutan. Finally, our last stop for the day was the King’s palace, the Parliament house and the temples around the area. Although we weren’t allowed to take pictures of the palace, we observed how clean and quiet the decision making place of Bhutan was, which amazed us. We ended the day with a quiet dinner at the hotel and prepared to get a good night’s sleep for the next day.
Some observations of the city and country :
- It is very clean and quiet
- 2. The people are super friendly and helpful
- The buildings in Bhutan, even the government ones, are painted with intricate designs
- Their chilli and cheese dish is amazing!