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Marvelous Stay in Bhutan
Thank you for your email. Luca and I had a marvelous stay in Bhutan!
Some of my friends asked about my trip and I pointed them to Druk Asia to assist them.
Ok so here is the trip.
The check-in at Changigi was exceptionally slow despite the two/three counters open, but thankfully it did not affect our flight to Paro via Calcutta by too much. We landed slightly later, but our guide Phub and driver Panda were at the airport waiting for us. They were both polite, knowledgeable, friendly and professional. L. and I were happy with both of them.
They took us to the hotel, the Zhiwa Ling, which I must say, I was veeeeeery happy about. It is built in Bhutanese style with local materials, wood and stone. It had carvings and paintings similar to that of Bhutanese homes. The room we were in was generous in size and with a view of the stream and mountains. The hotel is set in a beautiful garden full of colourful flowers, trees (including weeping willows), a stream and winding stone paths. What I liked the most is that it was split in separate short buildings and so it was not too imposing on the surroundings, but rather it blended with them. Besides the spa, it also had a meditation room, a tea room and even an area in the garden devoted to try or practice archery. Breakfast offered variety expected in hotels frequented by international travellers. The dinner by the Indian chef was always delicious, creative at times, but it was a shame that it did not offer more local options to try. Everybody at the hotel is smily, courteous and very helpful.
On Sunday 22 May, the day of our arrival, Phub and Panda took us to lunch in a local eatery in Paro and we tasted simple but delicious food and the famous butter tea. Then we went to the Dzong and we walked around a bit before heading back to the hotel for an early dinner and night.
On Monday 23 May we travelled to the capital, Thimphu, where we first stopped at Druk Asia office and met all the people working there. L. got his Gho to wear for the day (they brought the Kira for me to the hotel and a senior member of the staff had helped me put it on) from a shop, as the ones they had were for adults. We stopped at the post office, where we got special stamps made with our image in the national costume. It was a brilliant idea and we sent postcards to our family and even ourselves with those! Then we headed not to the museum as per original itinerary, but to Simply Bhutan, which was a great way to show Bhutanese lifestyle and customs. For that tour we had a separate guide, a young man who spoke very good English and was knowledgeable. Then we had another local style lunch near the only crossing in Thimphu with a policeman directing the traffic, as we found out there are no traffic lights in Bhutan! We then went to the place I had asked to visit especially, Nado Poizokhang, the incense factory. I really suggest you should start proposing that to visitors, as many people use incense sticks and do not know how they are made. It was a beautiful way of seeing the process of incense making. I later asked to be taken to the shop, where I think I did not buy enough sticks! We then went to the Institute Zorig Chusum, where we saw all the students practising and learning Painting, Sculpture, Embroidery and Woodcarving. Very inspiring, especially for me, as I am an artist too. Then we went to the stupa built in the 1970s, where I saw the most amazing butterfly in my life: big, black and pink! We concluded the day in Thimphu with a visit to the recently built, but still unfinished, and huge, statue of the present Buddha, a gift by a wealthy businessman from Hong Kong. The view of the valley is breathtaking from there. The journey on the way back was not so nice, because by then we were tired and all those turns in the road made us giddy, but Panda drove us safely to the hotel. Again, another dinner and early night.
On Tuesday 24 May we went to Taktsang which I am so happy about and I would say a trip to Bhutan is incomplete without a trek there. It took us 3 hours to go up and 2 to come down, but it was totally memorable. Once there I was taken by the sacredness of the place and it left a profound impression on me. I even had the time to meditate in one of the rooms. All three of us rang the bell before leaving once again. We took our lunch on our way down at the cafeteria. The weather during the previous days had been very good; on 24 May it was cloudy but it only rained when we entered the monastery and stopped when we left it: I took this as an auspicious sign. After a short stop at the hotel. We went to see the oldest temple in Bhutan, which, again, was amazing. The stories Phub shared enriched the sightseeing: it really is not quite the same to go to these places without a knowledgeable guide. He had also proposed that we attend a cultural show and dinner at a farm, which I would have liked very much, but honestly, L. and I were so tired, that once again we had early dinner and night, especially because we had to wake up early to catch our flight back to Singapore, via Calcutta.
On Wednesday 25 May we woke up early. Phub and Panda took us to the airport and we took a photo all together before saying goodbye.
I am happy for you to put this recounting on your FB site, without using my name or L. For personal reasons, I would prefer to remain anonymous there. But it is ok to publish there the photo of me with the older men and the one of the butterfly at the stupa.
I have already filled in a feedback form Phub gave me.
I do not have much more to say to help you improve, except to add the incense factory as an option, because truly we had a beautiful time and everything went smoothly.
Thank you once again for all your assistance and professionalism!