As soon as we approach the check-in counter at Katmandu airport and before we could make out the words “can we please have a window seat on the left side of the plane”, the answer was no. By the quick reply i could tell that The agent gets this question from every single passenger every single day.
The reason:for the duration of the flight you can enjoy being at eye level with the worlds highest mountains in the Himalayan range including of course Everest the highest of them all. So now you can see why those seats are in such demand. A good trick that worked for us was to upgrade to business and get that window seat.
Before boarding the flight, I was a little skeptical of whether Bhutan was worth the $$$$ price tag that was mandatory to experience the country. As it turns out, this country of 700,000 people was that kind of special place that it was worth every penny. It was a once in a lifetime experience where authenticity, tradition and exceptionally beautiful nature lived in harmony.
Unfortunately this “last authentic place on earth” as Time magazine calls it, is changing quickly as more & more tourist are able to afford the minimum spend and is in danger of loosing what makes it so special.
The three things that impressed me the most were:
1. Wild untouched nature.
70% of the country is forested with beautiful pine, fur, cypress etc. Mountain ranges reach up to 7500 m and run across very narrow valleys with terraced rice fields up to 4000 meters.
Luckily the national road is cut out of the edge of the mountains along the valleys and rivers so it allows for some of the most magnificent vistas as you look straight down 1000-3000 m or look out at mountains and valleys criss crossing ahead for miles.
2. 100% Traditional architecture.
The only architecture that you see in Bhutan is traditional Bhutanese 3 story buildings with intricate painted roofs and windows. These are the most distinct houses I have ever seen and they look magnificent against the backdrop of pine covered mountains and fairy tale valleys. The religious temples and monasteries are even more impressive as they sit tall at the edge of a 3000+ meter mountains and have the most spectacular views one has ever seen. Its no wonder it is the preferred meditation place for lamas.
The government has made sure that even the new buildings confirm to traditional architecture.
3. Traditional dress.
90% of all Bhutanese we have come in contact with wear traditional dress. This may change in the future but seeing most of this nation reflect their customs in their wear is such a pleasant and again very very unique sight. Can you think of a place where all people of one nation still dress in their traditional dress? I certainly have not seen it throughout the 50+ countries I have visited
I have to say that food and accommodations leave a lot to be desired but I hear that if you stay at the Aman resorts you won’t have to worry.
Archery: national sport
Chillies & cheese: national dish
70% forest cover
Tigers Nest at sunset (no tourists)
Chume Valley in (Bumthang)