Bhutan with Amankora Part 1: Intro

amankora

In May, I embarked on a spectacular journey with Amankora through one of the most intriguing countries in the world, Bhutan. _DSC1639Hidden deep within the Himalyan folds, this country is best known to the outside world for valuing gross national happiness above GDP as the only mandated government policy. When asked, very few people know its exact location…_DSC1843

In fact, Bhutan is a tiny landlocked country – home to less than 750,000 people – wedged between India and China, the two most populous nations on earth.

amankora paro

Bhutan seems to be mystic and spiritual land in the forest clad mountains… Almost like a figment of someone’s imagination: a land of astounding beauty, of verdant valleys, glacial rivers pristine forests and soaring snowy peaks, centuries-old monasteries nestled on craggy clifftops and villages unchanged by time. Filled with unconstrained peacefulness. Certainly a unique place, like nothing I have ever come across before. Like many say, the last Shangri-La on Earth.

_DSC1632 Almost completely cut off for centuries, Bhutan has tried to let in some aspects of the outside world while fiercely guarding its ancient traditions. In order to preserve their one-of-a-kind culture, intact society and pristine nature, the Bhutanese have created a rules-and-manners society unlike any other. They rival, if not exceed, the Japanese in their concern for exquisitely good manners and courteous formality.

toraja_land1-107On arrival the international airport terminal resembles a sprawling ancient monastery. The Bhutanese law mandates that all buildings here are built according to traditional Bhutanese designs, which means that nether nails nor iron bars are used in their construction._DSC0298During office hours, both adults and children are required to wear traditional smart Bhutanese dress. I got to try on a couple of exquisite outfits in Bhutan’s capital, Thimphu._DSC1131{Breakfast view at Amankora Gangtey}
amankoraThe majority of Bhutanese are to this day self-sufficient, living off their own land. Their diet is mostly vegetarian, with occasional appearance of yak meat. In the photo above, is a mouth-watering yak meat burger, so bloody good I had to have it for breakfast!toraja_land1-115 copyAlmost two thirds of the country is under forest cover. A couple of years ago the government announced the country’s intention to become the world’s first 100-percent organic faming nation.amankoraThe Bhutanese culture is deeply rooted in Buddism; in fact, the state religion is Mahayana Buddhism. We spent much of our time wandering through serene monasteries, chatting to and meditating with monks, learning about Bhutanese beliefs._DSC1729 copyThe official language is Dzongkha, however even in the most remote villages schoolchildren are taught English.
amankora The mountainsides are covered with wild marijuana, but there is no smoking. Anywhere. Unless you are a tourist…

amankoraBhutan only got television in 1999, the 3/4 of the land is covered in thick pristine forest, and no plastic bags are allowed in Bhutan.amankoraTourism in Bhutan is highly restricted and reserved mainly for the wealthy. There are no hostels or cheap hotels around, only chic lodges combinig contemporary design with rustic elements. Amankora, where we stayed, comprises five lodges – Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, Phobjikha and Bumthang- dotted across this ancient land. Throughout our 12 day journey we followed a breath-taking route through unspoiled forests and fields, over rolling river valleys and past mountainside farms, touching just a few tiny villages along the way._DSC1074

Gross National Happiness…

One of the most interesting and well-known aspects of Bhutan is of course Gross National Happiness: this south-asian kingdom is famed as the last Shangri-la. The local government has shunned the conventional measures of economic wellbeing, instead employing a subjective measurement of happiness. The notion of Gross National Happiness was first introduced by Bhutan’s fourth king in the 70s, as he announced that “gross national happiness is more important that gross national product”… That is certainly interesting and unusual approach to measuring the country’s economic output! It kind of makes you think what do the Bhutanese know about happiness that we don’t?toraja_land1-134
As I have far too many photographs, stay tuned for separate posts about each area we visited!_DSC0982-2

 



2 responses to “Bhutan with Amankora Part 1: Intro”

  1. Erica says:

    So outerworldly! Such a beautiful place. <3

    Erica
    http://www.eggcanvas.me

  2. My goodness, that place is amazing! I need to make it there one day, but I have heard that it’s very expensive to travel there. The photos are stunning though, and I love the Gross National Happiness concept.

    PS- I love the name of your blog!

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