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Joshua | profile | all galleries >> Bhutan - Land of the Thunder Dragon tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Bhutan - Land of the Thunder Dragon

Bhutan is a landlocked country at the eastern end of the Himalayas. Bhutan's landscape ranges from subtropical plains in the south to the sub-alpine Himalayan heights in the north, with some peaks exceeding 7,000 metres (23,000 ft). The total population of Bhutan is only approximately 700,000, and yes, it is a small country alright. The only international airport is in Paro, approximately 60km away from Thimphu, which is the only capitol city in the world that doesn't have any traffic light.

Major sources of income for the kingdom are hydroelectric power, agriculture and tourism. The later is controlled by the government and is available in the form of pre-paid, pre-planned tours, which include transportation, lodging and meals. The price is dictated by the government. Basically, independent travels are not allowed; you don't see backpackers there. You can go to Bhutan only by flying Druk (Dragon) Air, the official Royal Bhutan Airlines and that only from selected cities in nearby countries.

The Bhutanese government has been promoting the philosophy of "Gross National Happiness", which strives to achieve a balance between the spiritual and the material. In 2006, a prominent international magazine rated Bhutan as the happiest country in Asia and the eighth-happiest in the world, based on a global survey. The government provides free health care and education, including advanced education to those who qualify. I wouldn't describe Bhutan as overly wealthy but I could see with my own eyes that indeed the people are definitely content and happy with their way of life. It shows in their generally laid-back attitude. And, yes, the people in Bhutan are genuinely friendly.

We combined this trip with that to Nepal: http://www.pbase.com/ageojo/gallery/nepal . In Bhutan, we based our travel from two cities, Paro and Thimphu. A "must-see" spot is the Tiger's Nest monastery or Taktsang, which is located 10 kilometres to the north of Paro. It hangs on a precipitous cliff at 3,100 metres above mean sea level or approximately 900 metres above Paro valley. The rock slopes are very steep and the monastery buildings are built into the rock face. The hike up there is not that easy. There is a rest place with a cafeteria about halfway and even if you take a mule, which I did, you still have to hike about 700 steps down first and up to reach the monastery at the end of the mule/horse ride.

One pleasant surprise about this visit is that English is spoken very widely in Bhutan. The Bhutan government more than encourages English as the second language and reinforces that throughout their school system. Coupled with the free education, practically everybody speaks English but yet, you hear "Kuzuzangpo!", the Bhutanese greeting phrase there a lot.

Photography tidbits:
As in other galleries, I stress more artistic quality over a complete documentation of the trip. Although I took two camera systems, an autofocus SLR and a manual focus rangefinder digital systems, the later was used only minimally, regardless of the high quality files it generates. Autofocus has proven to be more useful for my travel needs.

Please feel free to post your feedback, comments on the images or galleries as you see fit. Thank you and enjoy the images!


Druk Air Airplane at Paro Airport
Druk Air Airplane at Paro Airport
Participant of an Archery Tournament
Participant of an Archery Tournament
Monk in Red
Monk in Red
Back Breaking Work...
Back Breaking Work...
Display of Utensils in Bhutan
Display of Utensils in Bhutan
Early Morning Dew
Early Morning Dew
Taktsang - Shrouded in Cloud
Taktsang - Shrouded in Cloud
A Clearer View of Taktsang
A Clearer View of Taktsang
Flowers in Foreground
Flowers in Foreground
Dahlias in Foreground
Dahlias in Foreground
Taktsang at Eyelevel
Taktsang at Eyelevel
Prayer Flag Line Connecting to the Monastery
Prayer Flag Line Connecting to the Monastery
Waterfall Near Taktsang
Waterfall Near Taktsang
Waterfall Near Taktsang
Waterfall Near Taktsang
Taktsang from Low Angle Near Waterfall
Taktsang from Low Angle Near Waterfall
Closer View of Taktsang
Closer View of Taktsang
Closeup of the First Complex
Closeup of the First Complex
Father and Son
Father and Son
Father and Son
Father and Son
One Last View Before Leaving
One Last View Before Leaving
Forest Along Trail to Taktsang
Forest Along Trail to Taktsang
Covered With Fern
Covered With Fern
View Through Vegetation
View Through Vegetation
Bhutanese Boy Baby Sitting His Brother
Bhutanese Boy Baby Sitting His Brother
Proud of Her Prayer Wheel
Proud of Her Prayer Wheel
Statue at Thimphu Chorten
Statue at Thimphu Chorten
Huge Prayer Wheel at Thimphu Chorten
Huge Prayer Wheel at Thimphu Chorten
An Elderly Pilgrim
An Elderly Pilgrim
A Young Girl
A Young Girl
Huge Buddha Statue
Huge Buddha Statue
Construction of Buddha Statue
Construction of Buddha Statue
Daughters of Buddha Construction Site
Daughters of Buddha Construction Site
Thimphu
Thimphu
Weaving Scarfs for Sale
Weaving Scarfs for Sale
Takin - National Animal of Bhutan
Takin - National Animal of Bhutan
Gathering Donation
Gathering Donation
Typical House Paintings
Typical House Paintings
Market in Thimphu
Market in Thimphu
Bridge Connecting Both Ends of the Market
Bridge Connecting Both Ends of the Market
Real or Fake Antique
Real or Fake Antique
Who Knows Whether Real or Fake?
Who Knows Whether Real or Fake?
More Ancient Relics
More "Ancient" Relics
Antique or Fake?
Antique or Fake?
A Sales Person
A Sales Person
Ceiling Decoration of Taj Tashi Hotel
Ceiling Decoration of Taj Tashi Hotel
Lobby of Taj Tashi Hotel
Lobby of Taj Tashi Hotel
Dining Area at Taj Tashi Hotel
Dining Area at Taj Tashi Hotel
Dining Area at Taj Tashi Hotel
Dining Area at Taj Tashi Hotel
Shrine at Taj Tashi Hotel
Shrine at Taj Tashi Hotel
Indoor Pool at Taj Tashi Hotel
Indoor Pool at Taj Tashi Hotel
Lobby of Taj Tashi Hotel
Lobby of Taj Tashi Hotel
Traffic Police Officer
Traffic Police Officer
From Valley Floor Near Trashichhoe Dzong
From Valley Floor Near Trashichhoe Dzong
Three Young Monks at Trashichhoe Dzong
Three Young Monks at Trashichhoe Dzong
Wall Decoration at Trashichhoe Dzong
Wall Decoration at Trashichhoe Dzong
Decoration Above an Entrance
Decoration Above an Entrance
Trashichhoe Dzong
Trashichhoe Dzong
Trashichhoe Dzong
Trashichhoe Dzong
Ideal Setting of Hidden Structure
Ideal Setting of Hidden Structure
Door Knob at Simthoka Dzong
Door Knob at Simthoka Dzong
Prayer Wheel at Simthoka Dzong
Prayer Wheel at Simthoka Dzong
Entrance at Simthoka Dzong
Entrance at Simthoka Dzong
Prayer Wheel at Simthoka Dzong
Prayer Wheel at Simthoka Dzong
Tired of Seeing Images of Dzongs?
Tired of Seeing Images of Dzongs?
Paro Valley and Paro International Airport in Foreground
Paro Valley and Paro International Airport in Foreground
Inside a Kitchen
Inside a Kitchen
A Devout Elderly Lady
A Devout Elderly Lady
A Small Stupa at Kyichu Lakhang
A Small Stupa at Kyichu Lakhang
An Elderly Lady at Rinpung Dzong
An Elderly Lady at Rinpung Dzong
Bee Hives Under a Window at Rinpung Dzong
Bee Hives Under a Window at Rinpung Dzong
Rinpung Dzong
Rinpung Dzong
Rinpung Dzong
Rinpung Dzong
Wooden Part of Rinpung Dzong
Wooden Part of Rinpung Dzong
Wall Painting at Rinpung Dzong
Wall Painting at Rinpung Dzong
Young Monks at Rinpung Dzong
Young Monks at Rinpung Dzong