Kuzuzangpola!

It has always been my dream to visit Druk-Yul, the land where people’s happiness, measured by the Gross National Happiness (GNH index), is given much more importance than the nation’s economic development. One of the only countries in the world where the people adore their king and queen, and fought against the introduction of democracy that was initiated by the King himself – Bhutan, the Land of Dragons. The fifth king, who currently sits on the throne, is still the highest authority in the country, while a democratically elected government is headed by a prime minister.

The only airlines that connects this country situated bang in the middle of the Himalayas to other parts of the world is Druk-Air or Dragon-Air. The minute I set my eyes upon its office in one of the airports in India, I put down ‘Flying in Druk-Air’ on the top of my bucket list. Much to the amusement of my parents, I was more excited to fly by Druk-Air than visit the Shangri-La itself; but it turned out to be worth its position on my bucket list. It is said that only a handful of pilots around the world are trained to land air-crafts on the runway that is situated in a valley surrounded by cascading green mountains. It was breath taking the way the pilot manoeuvred between the mountains before landing smoothly on the runway in the very pretty but compact Paro International airport. A huge banner of the King and the Queen welcomed us as we came out of the plane and breathed in our first lungful of the clean Himalayan air.

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We were greeted by our guide and driver, Jamptsho, who was to be with us our entire trip. He soon made us feel at home with his little jokes and answered all our plebeian questions about the country as we drove straight to the country’s capital, Thimpu, where we were to stay for the next two days to do some local sight-seeing. As we drove through the only four-lane road in the country that serves as the backbone of the capital city, we saw that all the houses were built in the traditional style. Apartments and high rise buildings, though built in the modern manner, had traditional Bhutanese roofs and windows according to the prescribed standards. Even the Benz showroom was built in the traditional Bhutanese style! We also noticed that all the people on the road wore the traditional Bhutanese attire- gho for the men, and kira for the women. Hardly a handful of people were dressed in casuals.

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Once we checked in, we immediately left to sample the local Bhutanese cuisine that is known for its spiciness, after which we visited the local arts museum, which was under the patronage of the fourth queen. Halfway through the pristine hallway, I began to feel giddy and nauseous and we were forced retire to the room. I was down with food poisoning, courtesy of the sandwich that I had on the domestic flight in India! This was the last thing that I wanted when on foreign soil.

Feeling a tad better the next day, I decided to muster all my strength and stick to the itinerary. We visited the huge Buddha statue that is strategically positioned on top of a hill, such that it is visible from every corner of the capital city. It was still under construction, but the magnitude of the size was truly astounding. The sun was beating down hard and I was feeling close to blacking out any moment, when we decided to visit the Taikin zoo. The Taikin, which is a cross between a cow and a goat, is the national animal of Bhutan, and there was no way that I was going to miss seeing that. We went through the huge iron gate, and were greeted by herds of the weird creature that were grazing inside a huge enclosure. And that was all that I could take.

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We drove back to the room, where I fell in an exhausted heap on the bed, hardly able to lift my finger, shedding bitter tears and cursing my luck. It was not the sights in Thimpu that I was worried about missing; it was the thought of not being able to visit what is considered to be a Mecca for the Buddhists around the world, which was scheduled for the last day of our stay in the country, that made me miserable- the thought of not being able to visit the Tiger’s Nest Monastery. But the Providence had a different plan in mind…

 

*Kuzuzangpola is a salutary greeting in Bhutanese language.

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26 thoughts on “Kuzuzangpola!

  1. What an amazing place to visit! I’m so sorry you were sick…such terrible luck. Though, being you, I’m sure you absorbed everything you could from what you saw. I’m going to have to look up more about this place…

    • Ha ha! I did manage to have a good time! 🙂
      It truly was an amazing country. Beautiful and pristine, and the people there so friendly…
      No hurry at all!! It really is worth a visit!

  2. I felt so badly for you getting sick, Sumithra, on this special journey. I look forward to the rest of the story. Love that first photo of the plane and mountains and the Buddha against that threatening sky is a great contrast.

  3. Dear Sumi, You’ve introduced me to Bhutan very differently and have kindled my interest to visit that place. Those photographs are awesome. Considering the lovely way your language flows probably you should do this over a dozen blogs so that we don’t miss any minor detail too. And of course, that would enable us ‘be with you’ through those photographs. The first one with Druk Air and the other photograph on Buddha have unbelievable backdrops – the phrase ‘picture perfect’ couldn’t be more apt…..
    look forward to reading every part of the travel in fair amount of detail. Well begun…..
    affly,
    bharath mama

  4. An eloquent travel writer from this part of the land is in the offing. A vivid description. Hats off! Well and ably supported by your father.

  5. Last year I saw taikin the San Diego zoo here – I loved them! I had never heard of them before. I am so glad to find out where they are from.
    I look forward to hearing more about the rest of your trip too!

  6. Wonderful photos, Sumithra. I do so admire your enthusiasm to see and learn, even when struck down with food poisoning. An intrepid traveller indeed. Hope you soon recovered.

  7. Looks and sounds like an amazing journey Sumitra! Glad the food poisoning didn’t ruin your enjoyment of your trip. Best to stick to nuts and brownies on our flights….hubby was down too after he had sandwiches on our Spicejet flight back from the Nilgiris! 🙂

  8. Hi sumi, what a beautiful write up nd such perfect pics to go with. It’s like u took me along with u fr this trip…. Looking forward fr the next. Thank God food poisoning didn’t ruin much. God bless ur talents.

  9. Dear Sumithra, I’m sorry it has been so long since I have visited your blog. I am not on wordpress as much this year and I am missing you. Your use of language is just beautiful as always, I am enchanted by your words. These photographs are magnificent. I look forward with anticipation to the next leg of your journey! Love, Vivian

    • You are too kind as always, Vivian. I haven’t been very active myself on wordpress this year, and have missed reading your heart-warming posts too. Hope to see you more often! Take care.
      Love,
      Sumithra.

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