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As we drove to Thimpu, we saw construction everywhere due to a big housing shortage.  There are only 700,000 people in the whole country and a lot of them want to move to the more modern city of Thimpu.  “City” is still a stretch though as it is basically just a bigger village where people sometimes dress in more western clothes.  It is the only capital in the world without any traffic lights.

Our first night in town, our guide invited us out and were curious to see how Bhutanese people get down.  We met up with Kinley and his friend, another guide named Banjo.  We went to a Karaoke bar, where we fortunate to see two famous Bhutanese singers, a married couple who ware paid to appear at the bar we happened to walk into. Then we went to a popular discotheque called Space 34. Not prepared for the contrast of what we had been seeing throughout the country — to all the western clothing, short dresses and heels!  The selection at the bar was grim and when I ordered a gin she had never heard of tonic.  She mixed some mango with Mandy’s gin and the bartender thought it was really bizarre!  Another weird thing is that even though cigarettes are illegal in the country (with up to three years in jail if a local smuggles them in), everyones was smoking in the bathroom and in a special smoking room in the bar.  It’s sort of like a status symbol for Bhutanese youth that want to show how western they are.  Weird.

We were sort of upset on the next morning because our itinerary called for sightseeing around town but it was a Sunday and everything is closed on Sunday.  We figured they would be “with it” enough to not schedule something like that, but luckily our guides were still able to get us to some really cool spots.

We went to the National Memorial Chorten, a memorial to the third king and one of the most religious structures in Thimpu and for many, the focus of their daily worship. Old women with prayer wheels were circling the structure at least three times as a sign of respect.  Older people that couldn’t walk much would just sit by a big wheel and spin it all day.

Then we went to the Folk Heritage Museum – a three story traditional farmhouse set up as it would have been centuries ago. Ourur guide said that many people lived like this only 15 years ago. First floor was for Cattle housing, Second floor was the kitchen, third floor was the bedroom (entire family shared one room to keep girls safe from “night hunters!!”), alter and food storage.  There were also a lot of swords around the house.  Kinley said that a Bhutanese saying is that everyone should have a cup of alcohol in one hand and a sword in the other so they could greet friends or enemies.

We went to the Takin Preserve and saw the national animal of Bhutan.  It’s a funny looking, stout animal, which biologically stumps taxonomists. Legend says that the Divine Madman–A famous religious figure and subject of many crazy stories– demanded to be fed an entire goat and an entire cow.  People thought he was crazy for eating so much but then he jumbled all the bones together and brought the Takin to life.  Then he turned into a fly and went to live in a shoe or something.

We had lunch at a Bhutanese restaurant where we had Chilies and pork, chilies and mushrooms, chilies and potatoes, rice, noodles and dal soup.  Good stuff!  Then we went to the weekend market where we saw produce from India and local produce, lots of chilies and incense.  Across a prayer flag laden bridge, they sold souvenirs, antiques and clothing.

Next we went to Trashi Chhoe Dzong across from Parliament and the Royal Palace. It’s a beautiful monastery with a big Buddha inside.  We witnessed a procession of a sacred statue, which happens only once a month. Monks carried from private quarters to the main monastery, while observers could partake in the blessings via putting holy water over their heads.  Finally we went to Buddha viewpoint to see the largest statue in all of Bhutan. About three stories high and made of steel.  It was still sort of under construction though.

  • Bhutanese Karaoke
  • Party in Thimpu!
  • Too Old to Walk Around the Wheel
  • Gross National Hapiness!
  • Bhutanese Man at a Prayer Wheel
  • Bhutanese Ladies
  • Bhutanese Lady
  • Prayer Flags for the Dead
  • Takin: Half Goat Half Cow
  • Takin: Half Goat Half Cow
  • Chilis
  • Adam Happy to Eat!
  • Bhutanese Traffic Light
  • Chilis in Bhutan
  • Bhutanese Chilis
  • Dried Fish in Bhutan
  • Lady and Baby at the Market
  • Ya Don't Say...
  • Happy Mandy in the Prayer Flags
  • Mandy and the Prayer Flags
  • Treasures at the Market in Thimpu
  • Monks Trying out a Horn
  • Trashi Chhoe Dzong
  • Trashi Chhoe Dzong
  • Monk in Window
  • Super Holy Relic
  • Super Holy Relic
  • Super Holy Relic
  • Mandy and some Prayer Wheels
  • Mandy and some Prayer Wheels
  • Adam and some Prayer Wheels
  • Monastary Window Panorama
  • Monk and Birds
  • Monk and Birds
  • Monks with Scrolls
  • The Secretary of Gross National Hapiness gets his own Parking Sp
  • Giant Buddha Under Construction
  • Mandy Looking out Over Thimpu
  • Adam and Mandy over Thimpu

Posted: July 9, 2012

Author: Adam and Amanda

Category: Asia, Bhutan, Blog, Continents

+1 Comment
  1. Dylan says:

    “It is the only capital in the world without any traffic lights.” – well i dunno about that….oh wait, there is one in Kathmandu—never mind. ;-)

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