Up and at 'em early today. 5:30 departure from the hotel to take a mountain flight to see Mt. Everest. We heard it was a first come first serve in seating so we need to block and tackle to get our prime seating for pictures. Low and behold assigned seats. The gentleman behind the counter liked us and gave us the front 2 seats. Great we think. Onto the flight and one problem....damn propellers are in the way. The Russian mob is occupying all the good seats. We take off. Beautiful morning. Sun is rising and the mountains are spectacular. The woman then motions to Julie to go to the open cockpit. That's how the flight manages good pictures for all people... Out the front window of the plane. Amazing landscape scenes. Takes your breath away. The entire plane rotates to the front. Then the circus begins. 1 hour flight was all we had for acquiring the perfect picture. So now all 30 people on the flight are pushing and shoving to get to perfect picture. At one point some woman pushed me on top of another woman's lap. It was a shit show of epic proportions. As a matter of fact the seats themselves flexed forward about 12 inches. We later learn from our guide on Bhutan we should never have taken the flight. The small planes are not serviced well and are in poor condition. Note to self! We go back to our hotel and decide our wooden frames are way to big and located a DHL to ship home. Best $60 I've ever spent. After breakfast we head to the airport to get to Paro, Bhutan. a quick flight on Druk Air with 30 monks aboard. Ironically we see Mt Everest from that flight. Note to self worst $177 ever spent. Upon arriving to Bhutan which is 10,000 feet above sea level, we land at the most beautiful airport on earth. I walk out of the plane and I could feel this calming spiritual energy immediately. The building are carved and paired with ornate images of the area and the religion. We learned later there is only 1 architecture allowed in Bhutan. Fine by me, pure beauty. We get picked up by our guide Sonam and driver Yamraj and head to Thimphu the capital city of Bhutan. The road, Built only 10 Years ago is winding around the Mountain ranges. We stop at a section of the road and Get out to Walk across a bridge where two rivers meet the Paro and the Thimphu river. Apparently because they meet there is an old notion there are bad spirits of evil there. Because of this, they built 3 stupa's to ward off the evil. One Napalese, one Bhutanese, one Tibetan. It was sort of Erie as the sun was setting and there was no noise but the water. As we crossed the hedge there were prayer flags of Red, (fire) White(air) Blue(sky)Green (water) Yellow(earth) hung from end to end. As we rounded a few more corners the altitude was finally getting to me. I had taken several days of two aspirin to thin my blood, however that was apparently not enough. Julie had taken altitude pills, however they had sulfa in them and I'm allergic so I was not feeling well. By the time we got to Thimphu, my legs were slightly shaken and my eyes were blood shot. My hear hurt as well. I powered through as we kicked off some shopping. Sonam was such a great explainer of everything we saw. I bought a wooden printers block of an image of a "wild horse" with precious stones on his back. The wild horse represents power, the gems represent wealth. Above the horse is a mantra that speaks about compassion. The block should be hung near the front door. It wards off evil spirits and brings true happiness. On the other side there is an intricate carving of an endless rope. The carving represents endless love. This is a very special gift. I'm excited to have it hung in my new home. The city is super clean and busy with lots of young people. There are no traffic lights in the entire country of Bhutan. We popped into a meat market (butcher) and the unto a karaoke bar where their form of karaoke is done with dancing and nit with singing. We stopped in a few more stores and Sonam held our bags. As he put it, that's what a man should do. By the end of the trip unwanted to wrap him up and put him in my pocket to come back to the states. He was so kind and charismatic that I just kept shaking my head in disbelief. Can this guy be for real? He shared stories about Bhutan. Home to 900,000 people, and headed by the 5th king(most people prefer the 4th king) there are 2 main Buddhist religions here. Mahayana Buddhism state religion of Bhutan those who think of others only.
Henayana Buddhism those who think of oneself only. Because Bhutan is made up of more Mahayana, there is more happiness and less selflessness. Bhutan is the last Shangri-La, untouched and undestroyed by man. There are no orphanages here. Why? There are no orphans. There are no homeless. Why? The govt provides homes for them. How? Us tourists pay $260 per day to visit. This gets you an escort and driver, hotel stay (3*) and meals. 45,000 people visit Bhutan every year. It funds most of the govt spending. They want to increase to 100k next year. Pretty smart govt. The US should charge our tourist population $25-$100 per day. That would help fund our deficit. Knowing how mucho eg tourists have, there would not be a decease in the entries of tourists. There are no drugs. Domestic abuse is only just beginning. Universal healthcare - free to every Bhutanese. It's a land of kindness and generosity. A place where the rest of the world could learn from. We leave Thimphu and head to the guest house where we are staying. Yes, a home to a family. No idea what we are getting into, but we are braving it. We drive up a windy dirt road, way up above the city of Thimphu, with NO guard rails to keep us from falling off. Cows and dogs are jetting in front of the car are we drive. We arrive at the homestead and thee are gentlemen waiting to take our bags. The house is a mansion. Kinlay who is the owner greets us with a warm hug and a big smile. She places us in the great room and brings 2 cups of warm tea. We talk for an hour and learn about her country and about the children and women. Her husband is a doctor(pediatrician). As she is Describing how domestic abuse is just starting(the started a group called Renew) she exclaims "we need to nip this in the butt" before it gets bad. I couldnt help to hug her. We get escorted to our room and it looks like a ski lodge with wood and bricks. Beautiful. Clean bed and a hot water heater right in the bathroom. Can anyone hear the word "heaven". We Change into comfy clothes as dinner was just about to be prepared. Side note the house was 17 degrees cel about 63 degrees. Our bedroom was equipped with 1 plug in heater. It was a sauna compared to the other part of the house but still cold. Dinner was a traditional Bhutanese dinner. Chicken, meat, rice, spinach, broccoli, snap peas and yak cheese, and chapati( bread). So yummy we could have eaten the 10 servings they served for just the 2 of us. There was another woman staying there from France. I'm not writing about her because Julie thought she and j were going to get into it. Keys just say she was way to outspoken about everything. Kinlay shared that she grows flowers for a hobby then decided to sell . Apparently she has a bustling business and is headed to europe to by peonys (my favorite flower) to bring back for the spring and is opening a furniture import shop with product from China . A total entrepreneur. By the time dinner ended , we were exhausted. By 9:00pm we were tucked in bed. The 7 dogs she had were barking up a storm. The second heater Kinlay gave to us was less than 8 inches from my face. I climbed into the bed of ice and eventually drifted off to sleep. First night of good sleep.