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iamdat This journal is dedicated to the people and places whom I have had a chance to come across.

Lost in Bhutan - Day 1

BHUTAN | Saturday, 25 December 2010 | Views [1261]

Day 1 – Dec 4 2010

7.15 am – I was just in time for the flight from Bangkok to Paro. Only halfway through the flight did I meet Mr. Jason Edwards and Mr. Simon Monk. We got to know each other and enjoyed the landscape outside the window. Far away, the horizon was broken with the white tips of the Himalayan mountain range, and to the extreme left erected the world’s rooftop, Peak of Mount Everest. Almost everyone rushed to the left side of the airplane to catch glimpse of such stunning natural landscape. The mountain ranges created multiple layers within the cloud, giving a surreal feeling. On the ground were intricate textures of the Earth’s face, the snaking river, the vast desert, and the green patches of forest. The legendary Silk Road might have been just down there too. These geographic details already thrilled me with the encounter of Bhutan, a country locked away behind thick mountains.

Then the scattering buildings appeared before us on the mountains’ slopes as we approached the Paro International Airport. They all carry a very unique architecture feature, especially the roof, with 4 corners being pointed upwards like that of a temple.  
Stepping out of the airplane, I was overwhelmed with the refreshingly clean air of the morning, and also the chill of the November wind. It was 4 degree Celsius they said, and I was wearing only two layers of shirts. However, the bright sun already warmed me up for the journey ahead.

Our guide, Mr. Khashapa, gave us a welcome in style, putting a white scarf over each of our necks. 5 minutes into the car, we already started what we were here for: photographing. Stopping at a bridge, we came into a wonderful view of the yellow row of trees along the Paro river. Particularly, what captured my attention most were the many colorful flags hung on the bridge. Mr. Khashapa said that they were flags of lucky prayers, with mantra written on each of them. For the Bhutanese people, hanging these at windy places helps carry the mantra around and bring luck to everyone. Moreover, the white flags are specifically prayer meant for the dead, and are often seen on the roofs of any household in Bhutan.

Then we visited the Paro Dzong, which is a fortress used for defense against the Tibetan invasion back in the 17th century. Outside the fortress people were bustling around, yet when we went inside, it was cloaked with a serene atmosphere, completely isolated from the outside world. Most of the walls are built of white bricks, which come in strong contrast with the red rooftop. Observing how the monks went about their daily activities was interesting.

After lunch, we headed for Thimphu. Around sunset time, we came across this large group of white prayer flags by the Thimphu river. It was beautiful to observe these tall poles standing firmly straight through the strong gust of wind. The sunset casts long shadows of the poles, sending the moving shapes of the flags stretched parallel on the ground.  

By evening, we reached a market, having a good look at all the organic fruits and vegetables. There was even a glass house at the market.

Tags: bhutan, buddhism, dzong, fortress, landscape, monks, paro, prayer flags

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