Bhutan Hidden Kingdom


Day 06 (2-2) - Saturday, November 02, 2019 - Walk to Acclimate with Area; Choki Traditional Art School; City Bus Ride; Archery Competition; Home-Hosted Dinner

Happy Saturday from the kingdom of “Gross National Happiness.” We were up and looking out from our balcony as the sun was rising at 6:15. We slept well and did not hear the notorious barking dogs of the capital.

We saw the dogs as we came in last night. They are large, friendly, roam free, and are treated well by the locals. Amazingly, they all seem to look alike, with variations on color only.

The temperature was 42 degrees and the humidity was 89%. The sky was blue and there was not a cloud in sight.

We went for breakfast and then at 8:30 our group met in the conference room for an informational orientation. Wangdi gave us a map of the kingdom and his business card, just in case we got lost.

We paid our Bhutan visa fee of $40 each. OAT had arranged electronic visas for us, which made our arrival at the airport so much easier.

Wangdi gave us a history of Bhutan and reminded us of its smallness and it is the least developed country in the world. There is not even one stoplight in the whole kingdom.

We started our walk at 9:30 and were amazed at the number of dogs we saw sleeping in the sun. Wangdi called them “solar dogs” – they sleep in the sun all day and recharge themselves so they can bark all night.

Noticing the lack of cars on the main street, our Trip Leader explained that every month the taxi drivers and local shopkeepers are responsible for picking up trash and cleaning the streets.

We made our way to the city bus terminal and taxi station. We took time to talk with a cab driver and he told us about his occupation and the responsibilities he had in his job.

Our driver, Yonten and his helper Jamyang met us for our half hour drive to the Choki Traditional Art School. The principal of the school, Sonam Choki explained the school’s philosophy of educating disadvantaged teenage children. The traditional arts of painting, sculpture, tailoring, embroidery, and carving are emphasized as well as English, math, and computer science.

Yeshi was our student guide as we toured the facilities. It was so interesting to see these young people working so hard to learn local crafts.

There was a photo stop as we crossed the Thimphu River and Wangdi treated us to some delicious street food. After eating our steamed dumplings, beef and vegetarian, garnished with a spicy chili sauce, we boarded a city bus for and ride back to the capital.

Yonten and Jamyang were there to pick us up and take us to lunch where we met a representative of RENEW, an organization that empowers survivors of domestic violence and vulnerable women and children. She explained the purpose of this NGO and how Respect, Educate, Nurture, Empower Women has served the kingdom since 2004.

By 2:30 we drove back to the hotel and had 20 minutes to go to our rooms, organize our bags, and then we were back on the bus headed to an archery competition at the Changlimithang National Stadium.

As we watched these national caliber archers compete, we learned about the Olympic sport of Archery. Teams are made up of 11 players, using either a compound bow or the traditional bamboo bow. The distance of the range was 145 meters.

The colors on the arrow’s feathers designate ownership and the brightly colored flags help the archers judge the speed and direction of the wind. A friend of Wangdi gave us a demonstration of his bow and arrows.

As the competition was winding down, we got back on the bus and returned to the hotel. We only had an hour and a half to sort photos and start putting the journal together for this especially busy day.

At 5:30 we were back in the lobby where Wangdi divided us into three groups for our home-hosted dinner with three local families. This is a tradition that OAT does to help us really get to know the local people.

We had a lovely dinner and enjoyed both the food and company of our hosts Tshering Om and her family. The highlight of the evening was dressing up in traditional Bhutanese formal costumes.

Our meal was simple but delightful and we all raved about their hospitality. The time with our new Bhutanese friends went quickly and by 9:00 we were back in our room.

We posted the journal and settled in for a restful night. Two things about our OAT trips, we are never hungry and we are always busy!

Meals included: B, L, & D

Accommodations: City Hotel

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Bhutan Hidden Kingdom
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  Comments

I love the idea of home hosted dinners, and I would love to visit that school.

Susan Phillips   November 3, 2019 - 5:38am

Yes, another interesting and educational journal if the day. Vic, the attire looks good on you. I kept watching and waiting for something to pop from the sleeve of the robe. LOL Y'all are so much fun!!!! The various people you encounter don't realize how lucky they are to have met you and be able to spend time with the both of you!!. They didn't even notice me in your pocket. LOL God bless and travel mercies are going your way. Love ya

Pat   November 2, 2019 - 4:57pm

We were reminded of our visit to Bhutan some 10-12 years ago. We also enjoyed the hospitality of the people. We did hear the barking dogs!! They come from the same gene pool we decided!

June   November 2, 2019 - 2:34pm

Is Bhutan an English speaking country?, Notice a sign that was in English. How do you fair, in eating the different types of food? Pictures are beautiful!

Norma   November 2, 2019 - 1:54pm

Another fascinating and educational day! Thanks.

Dee   November 2, 2019 - 10:09am
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Choki Traditional Art School

Choki Traditional Art School

Thimphu River

Thimphu River

Street Food Vendors

Street Food Vendors

Archer at National Stadium

Archer at National Stadium

Home Hosted Evening

Home Hosted Evening

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