Beautiful Bhutan; Mike Smith Travels to the Far East and Finds an Unspoilt Kingdom in the Himalayas

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), June 19, 2010 | Go to article overview

Beautiful Bhutan; Mike Smith Travels to the Far East and Finds an Unspoilt Kingdom in the Himalayas


FEW people have heard of the country of Bhutan and still less could point to it on a world map. In some respects it would be best for Bhutan and, in turn, for the small number of visitors to the Himalayan kingdom if it stayed that way.

The Bhutanese call their country Druk Yul, the Land of the Thunder Dragon, and themselves as Drukpa people.

Bhutan is indeed a very special country, deeply traditional, devoutly Buddhist but also, at first, seemingly paradoxically progressive. When I asked our delightful guide what it would be like to live in Bhutan if you were not Buddhist his look was one of incomprehension.

"But everyone is," he replied with a slightly puzzled look.

Religion is important to the Bhutanese. They observe customs, they respect rituals, they believe in traditions. Yet, like many Buddhist countries, the people are charming and funny and relaxed and have no trouble reconciling traditional values and modern life. But you get a slightly uneasy feeling that there is a sense that the nation is also potentially quite fragile and could be swept away in a torrent of Western brash commercialism - or imperialism from its giant neighbour China - at any moment.

Take an evening stroll down the main street of Thimphu, the capital, barely bigger that a large village. The people are largely wearing traditional dress, the men wearing the gho, a bright oversized dressing gown with huge rolled up sleeves and a high collar, and the women wearing the kira, a floor-length dress worn with a short jacket in beautiful traditional fabrics.

All the buildings are nearly identical and traditional, white painted with highly decorated windows and bright painted detail under the eaves.

Stopping for coffee, the other customers are smiling and happy and the waitress is far from shy, almost sassy and is quickly making a charming little joke at our expense. At first it is impressive, if not puzzling, that every shopkeeper, for example, has perfect English. But then it turns out English is so widely spoken because everyone is taught through the medium of English at school. Their own native language - and there are many - is also spoken but at school it is all English.

The food hints of India (their friendliest neighbour) so you will have all manner of interesting flat breads and rice but the heat that creates curry is served separate from main dishes. The Bhutanese eat a lot of vegetables and one of their favourite dishes is potatoes in a creamy, cheese sauce which seems more European than Asian.

Bhutan is in the foothills on the Himalayas, between China and India, a very precarious position to be in as what has happened to Tibet has demonstrated and yet owes little to either culturally.

Driving through the foothills through forests dotted with bright rhododendrons and an occasional orchid nestling in a tree is a joy surpassed only by a trek to experience the mountains up close. We trekked up to the renowned Tiger's Nest monastery clinging to the side of a cliff and apparently secured there by angel's hair.

We came to see the dzongs, huge white citadels, part government offices and part monastery, illustrating how intertwined politics and religion are in Bhutan. There are 20 dotted all over Bhutan mostly built in the 17th century, some high on mountain ridges, others at the meeting of two rivers, both large and small, but all so beautiful, like white-painted castles with the same elaborate windows and wall painting. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Beautiful Bhutan; Mike Smith Travels to the Far East and Finds an Unspoilt Kingdom in the Himalayas
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.