Sam's Travels to Exotic Bhutan, The Kingdom of Happiness
If you've never heard of Bhutan, it isn't surprising (and I hadn't either until my wife told me about it a couple of years before we went). It is a small country that borders India to the south and east, Tibet to the north and which touches the even smaller country Sikkim to the west. With a land area of 18,000 square miles, it is about the same size as Switzerland. The Kingdom of Bhutan is a constitutional Monarchy, located in Himalayas range. With its remote location and with its regulated tourism, it remains largely shrouded in mystery to the rest of the world. Paro, a small village located in west Bhutan, has its only airport, with connections to Kathmandu and Delhi. There are no trains, no helicopters and no traffic lights in the entire country and most of the roads are one lane, making travel and exploration difficult. The capital, Thimphu is a couple of hours drive away.
My wife, daughter and I visited Bhutan in December, 2006 for 4 days. The short trip to Paro and Thimphu was delightful as we were able to witness first hand this truly isolated country and its wonderful people. While most tour guides refer to Bhutan as the "Land of the Thunder Dragon", as it's fourth king, the beloved Jigme Singye Wangchuk, has stressed the importance of GNH (Gross National Happiness) over GNP, I think the term "Kingdom of Happiness" much more appropriate, as I found the people we met gentle and happy, as my photos demonstrate.
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