A Travellerspoint blog

June 2009

Getting to Know Bhutan and Thimphu

The seven Japanese volunteers and myself are receiving an intensive orientation of Bhutanese customs, history, cuisine, dress, arts and culture, and politics. The Japanese volunteers are all in their 20s and have professional backgrounds in engineering, education, health care, and information technology. They are associated with the Japan International Cooperation Agency--Bhutan, http://www.jica.go.jp/bhutan/english/

In the mornings, we listen to lectures on conversational Dzongha, traditional dress, Bhutanese cuisine, Bhutanese culture, and Bhutanese politics and history. In the afternoons we go on guided tours. So far, we have visited the headquarters of Bhutan's national newspaper--Kuensel http://www.kuenselonline.com/ and the studios of the Bhutan Broadcasting Service, http://www.bbs.com.bt/ Both of these tours were quite informative providing extensive background and the history of these two key media outlets. One issue, for instance, that the BBS has encountered recently is the amount of coverage that they can do while the Bhutanese parliament is in session. Bhutan about a year and half ago transformed from a hereditary monarchy to a constitutional monarchy complete with a parliament, prime minister, and U.S.-style Bill of Rights.

Today, June 30th, we visited the Royal Academy of Performing Arts, http://www.raonline.ch/pages/bt/visin2/bt_dance01.html The eight of us were entranced by a special dance performance of several traditional and classic Bhutanese songs and dances complete with cymbals and very long Bhutanese style horns. We later visited the Bhutan National Handicrafts Emporium in central Thimphu, http://www.colorsofbhutan.com/. The Emporium contains numerous traditional clothing, bamboo craft, fine jewelry, wood carving including masks, stone work, paper making and musical instruments crafted throughout Bhutan. Next door is a non-governmental organization--National Women's Association Bhutan, which sponsors artists who are painters and wood carvers, http://www.nwabbhutan.org.bt/ We watched as several of the artists painted before our eyes traditional paintings and carved traditional masks.

Posted by mgivel 05:54 Archived in Bhutan Comments (0)

Thimphu, Bhutan

Well, on Sunday June 28th, I flew into Paro International Airport on DrukAir. The flight was very smooth. I was able to get a left window seat and a good view of some of the world's highest mountain peaks. Awesome. The landing and final approach weaved through and around two large mountains.

The first thing you notice when you step off the plane at Paro International Airport is the quiet and the wild river that parallels the airport and runway. Also greeting arriving visitors is a picture of the five hereditary kings of Bhutan and exquisite Bhutanese architecture. The buildings are constructed of fine wood, several colors, varying outside designs, and the inside rooms are airy with high ceilings.

My hosts from the Royal Institute of Management greeted me at the airport and we then drove the two lane highway headed to Thimphu. The road was continually winding around mountain switchbacks. I arrived at the Royal Institute of Management about an hour later. Like the international airport, the campus buildings are constructed of fine wood, several colors, varying outside designs, and the inside rooms are airy with high ceilings. Next to my guest quarters is a fast running river.

The next day the Royal Institute of Management welcomed seven Japanese volunteers and myself in a special ceremony. The ceremony in the university's Buddhist sanctuary was complete with chimes, chants, incense, fruit offerings, rice tea, and the lighting of numerous butter lamps. Quite a warm welcome.

Posted by mgivel 19:34 Archived in Bhutan Tagged air_travel Comments (1)

Delhi Is Sizzling

sunny 106 °F

I landed at Indira Ghandi International Airport in India's capitol--New Delhi two nights ago on June 24, 2009. The temperature at about 9:00 PM was quite hot at 105 F. The seasonal monsoons have not arrived yet and the Times of India reports that New Delhi has had several drought related water shortages and rolling black outs due to high electricity demand. I am staying indoors in the afternoon. Better to venture out in the morning.

The capitol is quite interesting and one can quickly see a merger of Indian and British colonial influences in the architecture and city planning. I was able to view India's parliament, other quite august government buildings, and embassy row.

I have finished my arrangements here including a recent visit to the Bhutanese Embassy in New Delhi. The architecture and design of the Bhutanese Embassy is quite striking and colorful. On the grounds of the embassy is an informational sign about a local water environmental conservation project! The inside of the Embassy is quite nice with wooden floors and paneling.

On Sunday, June 28, 2009, I fly on to Paro, Bhutan on Bhutan's Druk Air. I am told to try to arrange a left hand window seat as there will be a spectacular view as we will be flying past six of the highest mountain peaks in the world. That I will definitely try to do.

Posted by mgivel 03:10 Archived in India Comments (3)

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