The weather was still cold, negative temperature, but I had to brave the cold without my thermal as it would be too much hassle to remove it in the tight confines of the airplane toilet.
Goodbye Bhutan. I shall be back again.
Some of my thoughts from this trip:
1) This is a beautiful country where the Monarchy has withstood the many pressures of consumerism and materialism and made the happiness of the people it's main concern. Not easy to do, my greatest respect for him.
2) Although the people do not live according to our definition of a comfortable or good life, they make do with what they have. We have to learn to be thankful with what we have and not be wasteful. They are still a happy people, singing while they work in the fields, doing whatever they are doing with a happy heart, etc. We in the so called developed world must learn to be happy, to be thankful, to live life with a purpose, to do things wholeheartedly and enthusiastically.
3) When I compared the 7th century temple with some of the newer ones, I see very similar architecture. This goes to show how tradition, custom and culture have been preserved through the generations. We thrive so much in change in our society. We are taught that change is the only constant in life. Yes, true, but is it necessarily better? Better according to what definition? What about our roots, culture and customs? Does the younger generation (not forgetting my own generation for that matter) even know of some customs of our ancestors?
4) Fresh and clean air is not a right and to be taken for granted. About 70% of Bhutan is covered by beautiful forests and the government has taken steps to ensure this. I see Chunjur pick up rubbish along the tracks as we go trekking and it shows how much he loves his country and in protecting the environment. What are we doing to protect the environment of our Singapore? Can we even pick up that small piece of tissue on the floor or walk past it leaving it to the cleaners?
5) A good and happy life is what all of us want. How do we measure this? Better sit down and evaluate our goals, especially since it's the beginning of the year.
Lastly, here are some tips for you peeps heading to Bhutan:
1) Invest in a good pair of light, comfortable and waterproof trekking shoes. You'll be doing lots of walking so please don't be stingy. As you may encounter snow or icy floors and sandy slopes, you need it to have good grip too.
2) Don't expect too much internet connectivity, as wifi may not be available a the hotel. If it's that important, consider getting a local SIM card. Tell your guide when you arrive and they'll bring you to get it when you get into Thimphu.
3) Bring some heat packs if you are afraid of the winter cold.
4) Invest in good winter clothes. In winter, it should be sufficient to wear thermal with jeans for the bottom, an inner wear, tshirt and thick wind proof jacket for the top. Scarves, gloves, beanies/caps, and ear muffs are useful especially if you are out early morning or late evening.
5) Bring cup noodles if you are the type that you will miss local food.
6) According to the guide, the best time for visiting Bhutan is Sep-Oct.
7) If you join Druk Asia's tour, their prices are all inclusive and you don't need to pay for anything else. Just bring about the equivalent of USD200 and it will be enough for minor spending on things like water or snacks... and as a token of appreciation for your guide and driver. Bring more if you want to buy more souvenirs like singing bowls, paintings, etc.
8) You can bring SGD and change it at the bank in Thimphu. Tell your guide that you need Bhutanese currency when you arrive.
9) when bringing in USD, it is better to bring in $100 denominations as the rate is not as favourable if you change less than $100.
10) Bring all your own toiletries, eg toothbrush, toothpaste, shower gel/soap, etc, especially when staying in 3-star hotels, they may not provide some of the things.
Guess that's more or less. Thanks for reading my "adventures" in Bhutan. Hope it was helpful for you to understand a little more of Bhutan.