Gho to the Dzong

(Andrew)  The Kingdom of Bhutan is a beautiful, land-locked Himalayan country of 700,000 people bordered by China/Tibet, India and Nepal.  It is primarily a rural country; its three largest cities are the capital of Thimphu 80,000 people; Paro (where the international airport is) 8,000; and Bumthang 6,000.

Bhutan is a subtle country and you have to look hard for observations, but I looked hard enough and saw this:

  • The national dress for men in Bhutan is a gho: a robe-like garment tied with a belt and finished off with shoes and tall socks.
  • The national dress for women is a kira: a jacket (tego) and an elaborate silk or cotton cloth skirt.
  • All fabrics worn on people and sold in handicraft shops are very intricate and are amazing.  Most of them are hand woven on looms.
  • Buddhism is the main religion of Bhutan, and monasteries dominate the landscape.
  • Buddhist monks live in the monasteries, and according to our guide, 15% of Bhutan’s male population are monks which would be over 40,000 of them. Boys as young as the age of 6 leave their families and join the monastery.
  • The main attractions in Bhutan are the many spectacular dzongs (fortresses) and gompas (monasteries)
  • Prayer flags are everywhere in the kingdom. There are 5 different color flags strung together; white, blue, green, yellow and red. The 5 colors represent the 5 Bhutanese elements; air, water, forest, earth and fire.  They are placed near water and snow where the wind can carry the prayers to all of the beings.
  • The king is revered by most of the population, and most printed photos are of him.  The current king is the fifth one (the first was crowned in 1907).
  • Much of the younger rural population of Bhutan is moving to the cities, but there are not many more jobs so the people get stuck.
  • In one valley, they grow so many potatoes that each house grows three truck-loads of spuds and there are a couple hundred houses!
  • Bhutan is constantly being made smaller by China because of the mountain water. I am concerned that in the future, Bhutan will disappear.
  • As we headed farther east in the country, the roads got  thinner, bumpier and windier which made us feel very carsick.

Children visitors are extremely rare in Bhutan. The owner of our hotel in Bumthang told us that we were the first kids he has hosted as tourists in 15 years.  So far I am really enjoying Bhutan and am looking forward to the days to come.

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    2 Responses to “Gho to the Dzong”

    1. Andrew, wow! You have done a great job reaching the far corners of the world. I’ll bet you and your siblings were not only the first kid tourists seen in 15 years but some of the finest touring ambassadors ever.

    2. The Alessandros 18. Apr, 2011 at 7:28 pm

      Dear White Family,

      We have been viewing all of your wonderful videos, entries and photos as you have been traveling this amazing experience!!! Thank you for sharing your exciting adventures with us!!! We are wishing you a healthy, safe and fun rest of your travels!!!

      The Alessandros