A two day visit that will benefit a generation
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge appeared to have thoroughly enjoyed their visit to Bhutan for their short but sweet two day tour of The Kingdom of the Thunder Dragon. What will be the long term impacts of this Royal visit? The outcomes of this journey will resonate beyond the few days of Bhutan being in the international press. Bhutan will not only benefit from more of the world knowing about it. The wider world will reap the benefits from knowing more about the inspiring philosophies of this enlightened Kingdom.
PUTTING BHUTAN ON THE MAP
Visiting the country’s capital of Thimphu, surrounding valley and the region of Paro, William and Kate have really helped put Bhutan on the map for those who may not even have known it existed. This secluded, landlocked nation, nestled between India and China, is smaller than Holland and has a population of less than 800,000.
Known as the ‘William and Kate of the Himalayas’, King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and his wife, Queen Jetsun Pema share many similarities and interests with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. This was apparent during the time that they spent together playing some of the traditional games of the country, including having a go at archery and trying their hand at throwing darts or khuru. Archery, or dha, is Bhutan’s national sport and in times gone by, the Drukpa or Bhutanese archers repelled the Tibetan invaders on a number of occasions with their bamboo longbows and arrows. The sport continues to enjoy mass appeal, due in part to the fact that His Majesty is a keen archer – and it’s just great fun!
William and Kate tackled the iconic hike to Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest Monastery) which is a highlight of many visitors’ trips to Bhutan. The monastery clings spectacularly to the cliff edge at 3,200m above sea level and the hike is one of the most sacred of pilgrimages in the Himalayas. It can be a tough climb - but most abilities will be able to cope if it is taken at a steady pace. Although those accustomed to the altitude might take 2 hours to climb to the temple, we’d recommend a full day for the excursion with coffee and lunch stops on the way up and down to admire the view. As William and Kate experienced, the walk through oak, rhododendrons and trees draped in lichen is a rewarding and photogenic hike giving incredible views of the monastery and valleys below.
A UNIQUE KINGDOM
With its somewhat unorthodox yet complex laws which include a ban on smoking, plastic bags in shops and a requirement to wear national dress if working in government office, school or formal occasions, Bhutan is proud of how it preserves its unique magic by keeping a low environmental and cultural impact on such a precious country. Visitors can embrace the unique culture through staying with local families, perhaps taking a blessing in a local monastery and braving the national dish, Ema Datse – chillies with cheese! The most distinctive characteristic of Bhutanese cuisine is its spiciness and chillies are an essential part of nearly every dish and are considered so important that most Bhutanese people would not enjoy a meal that was not spicy.
FOLLOWING THE ROYALS
Getting to this little known country has never been easier, but is still not the simplest journey; you can enter overland via three border crossings with India or by air from Thailand, Nepal, India, Singapore or Bangladesh. There are only two airlines, so flights into Bhutan get full very quickly, especially in the peak seasons Spring and Autumn, and should be booked as far in advance as possible.
If you’ve been inspired to follow in the Royal footsteps with your own visit to Bhutan, give us a call and we’ll make it happen. We will handcraft a journey for you that will be like the Royal visit in that it will have a positive impact not only on those on the journey but the wider world!
Find out more about this mysterious Himalayan kingdom here.