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Flying to Bhutan is pretty spectacular. Flight from Delhi, with short stopover in Kathmandu is over the Mt Everest (that's the one on the left). Very quick descent after that, short flight back and forth between the mountains and very short final in left turn to airfield in Paro.




Airport in Paro is very small with 2 flights a day only. As any building in Bhutan is build in traditional Bhutanese style.




Paro runway is pretty much only piece of land, when it was possible to build an airfield. However at both sides it has steap mountains.




Druk hotel - the place where we stayed for 10 days. It is in the mid-town Thimphu. The only place in Bhutan that can be called city with 50 000 people living there. This hotel has no heating in the rooms, even during the night there was about 3-5C outside. We had to sleep with fan heaters on all the night. Local people told us it is very usual there is no heating in houses. And Bhutan is a country in Himalayas with winter temperatures bellow zero.




Locals have a chat in front of the hotel. Traditional Bhutanese dress is still very common, even you can see people wearing jeans and t-shirts.




Budhism is the main religion of a country. Maybe because of that all people are very nice and country clean not like India :-) Praying-wheels can be found everywhere. These were in front of hour hotel.
I read the artical in local newspaper which was complaining about lack of experienced and good budhists monks whos shall convey local teenagers to budhism. Most of them are abroad teaching everybody for a money and religion at home is struggling specialy with younger generations.




Most of the bridges over the river are like this one. Maybe only the highway bridge is as we know them from all around the world.




And this is inside the bridge.




Thimphu downtown. Or let's call it historical center. By law, every single building in Bhutan has to be build accrding to Bhutanese tradition. That includes for example even the petrol stations ...




... or National Bank and Post Office ...




... or even the high-end modern building of a state TV station where we worked.

Anyway, Bhutan Broadcasting Service (BBS) is probably youngest state TV channel in the world. The first TV channel and first couple of TV sets appeared in Bhutan in year 1999. The complete technology looks like from 70s. Right now BBS is rebuilding the whole facility with state money from India.




One of the biggest dzong (temple) in country. It's currently seat of a fifth Bhutanese king.




Thimphu streets in the night.

Bhutan is probably the only non-smoking country in the world. It doesn't mean, you can't smoke. It means that selling of tabacco products is illegal. However, cigarettes can be bought everywhere. You just need to ask proper people. Bhutan king ban smoking 5 years ago, to improve the situation when most of the kids smoked. And it helped.




Chilli is the national dish of Bhutan. As Bhutanese say, it is not a spice, it's vegetable. :-)




Local "vegetable" market. Every weekend farmers from whole country arrive to Thimphu to sell their products.




Handycraft market. This one is mostly for locals, tourists use the hadicraft shops all around the city.




People of Bhutan. Very nice, polite and always smiling. Gross Natinal Happiness replaced GDP in Bhutan. (Really, this is not a joke!)




Dochu La. Our only longer trip from Thimphu. 108 small temples build at the top of the 3400m hill. 108 is a lucky Bhudhist number and there is legend in Bhutan long time ago Tibetan king arrived to Bhutan to build 108 temples all around of the country. Some of them still exist. Like the one close to Paro.




Unfortunately that morning was very hazy. Otherwise the view from Dochu La is really spectacular.




Dochu La once again.




Miniature temples whihc people place all around holy places.




Each hill top is decorated by Budhist prayer flags.




Like these ones.




One of the oldest dzongas in Thimphu - Changangkha Lhakhang. Build in 15th century. It is in the suberb of the town, just 15mins walk from TV station.




And it is still in use. In time of our visit, there were about 20 people around.




This guy was on the way from school.




And again, small temples.




This is Thimphu. Altitude 2315m above the sea level on the bottom of the valley. Surrounding hills are about 3000m high.




Bhutanese countryside on the way to Paro airport. I don't know why, but it reminds me Krkonose :-) Just 2000m higher ...




Dzong close to Paro.

We were leaving that time. To India and none of us was happy about that. This country is worth visit, even it is quite complicated and expensive. As tourist, you have to pay 200USD per day, which includes accomodation, food and transport. You may choose your own program, go nearly everywhere. But Bhutan tries to protect its environment and they realized that this would be probably only way, how they will not be invaded by backpackers as Nepal or Thailand are ....


Photographs and texts by Honza Půlpán
Copyright 2002-2011 Honza Půlpán, All rights reserved.