the secret, sacred wonders of paro valley

Paro Valley, Bhutan

[My below post was published in the March–April 2017 edition of Druk Air’s in-flight magazine Tashi Delek. All proceeds from my fees went to support the Ability Bhutan Society, a charity supported by Her Majesty the Gyaltsuen in aid of persons living with moderate to severe diverse abilities.]

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Deep in a valley in Western Bhutan, on the banks of the Paro Chhu river, lies a town suspended in time. The emerald green fields glimmer in the sun, punctuated with scraggy scarecrows. A lone woman in a purple kira tills the soil under an azure blue sky.

Lao Tzu’s words, from way back in the 6th Century BC, echo in my mind:

“Be still,
Stillness reveals the secrets of eternity.”

My reverie is broken by hollers and laughter in the distance. The farmers have started setting up their produce in the local market comprising a string of wooden tables piled high with fresh and sun-dried vegetables. The latter help carry the Bhutanese over the cold dry sterile winters. A line of red-robed monks file past me, a gentle smile on their lips.

It’s the crack of dawn, and I am in Paro. The main street I am walking down is lined with traditional buildings and was paved only recently, in 1985. Continue reading

bhutan, land of happiness: what it means for the traveller

bhutan_thimpubridge1

[My below post was later published in the Gross National Happiness Centre June 2016 Newsletter.]

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I have a quiet smile playing on my lips. My eyes are content. This is through a daily dosage of countless hours on the road, wake up alarms by wee hour sunrises, and often dodgy plumbing and basic meals. I am in the land of happiness.

Whilst the rest of the world chases gross domestic and national products, the Kingdom of Bhutan has veered towards the road less trodden, in every sense. It chose happiness. And somewhere along the way, this translates to happiness for those who travel through it. This I assure you is no marketing spiel by PR or advertising honchos. It is for real. Continue reading