Sunday, November 18, 2012

2012 Asian Adventure - Bhutan Epilogue

Bhutan was a highlight of our travels.  This tiny country had a feeling of peace, serenity, and well being.  It was full of nice people, nice scenery, and a long history.

It was a country of contrasts.  A country of traditional architecture, traditional dress, and ancient temples.  A country of cell phones, internet, and cable television.  A country of beautiful people and beautiful mountain-scapes.  A country with their own language and traditions who are moving into the twenty-first century.

Our guide was a perfect example of the modern Bhutan.  She was educated.  Like her compatriots she learned English in school - several of her classes in the math and sciences were taught solely in English.  She used her traditional language, Dzongkha, when talking to the driver and monks but she said written English is much simpler to use than her native written language and English was becoming more common.  All the signs I saw, even hand written ones, were in English.

Our guide was studying Chinese in New Delhi so that her skills as a tourist/trek guide would be more useful.  Being a tour guide made our guide a member one of Bhutan's top three industries - hydroelectric power, agriculture, and tourism.  The number of Chinese tourists was going up every year.  We helped her with some currency while we were there.  Bhutan has it's own currency but they also accept Indian Rupees.  Even so, it was hard for Bhutanese to get Indian Rupees.  When we were going to buy something we gave her our rupees and she would then pay with her Bhutanese ngultrums.  People we talked to in Nepal and Bhutan were amazed how easy it was for us to get foreign currencies - I just went to our local bank and had them within forty-eight hours.

Bhutan is changing.  A ban on television and the internets was lifted in 1999.  Since then the changes have accelerated.  The cities we visited were uncrowded, clean, quiet, and peaceful but you could see the change coming.  Our driver used his horn just like the drivers in Nepal - less frequently as there were fewer cars on the road.  As more cars and trucks appear and more drivers learn to drive some of that peaceful, quiet, cleanliness will start to go away.  A shame.  We were talking with the owners of the hotel in Paro.  They too saw the changes coming with all the tourists despite the number of tourist being limited by the government.  They lamented the change and hoped that it would me managed properly.  I hope so too.  What Bhutan has is a treasure in this modern world of ours.  It would be a shame if Bhutan became another Kathmandu or Shanghai.

I will return here some day.  There is an Himalayan trek with my name on it there.

Pictures from Bhutan can be found in my 2012-07 Bhutan Google Photos album.

Our 2012 Asian Adventure continues ...

2 comments:

  1. I have really enjoyed reading about your adventures and am glad you were able to take so many pictures!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Miss McC: Thanks. I'll be posting about the last country, with more pictures, after Thanksgiving.

      Delete