Bhutan is no everyday place. In this unexplored mountain kingdom you have arrived at a special destination where you uncover a purity of culture, traditions, and kindness.
THE KINGDOM OF HAPPINESS
10 SURPRISING FACTS ABOUT BHUTAN
1. LAND OF THUNDER DRAGON
Bhutan is called “The Land of Thunder Dragons” because of the violent and large thunderstorms that whip down through the valleys from the Himalayas. The contrast in temperature from the Indian plains and the high mountains of the Himalayas also creates dramatic cloud-scapes that can be seen as you drive over the high mountain passes.
2. CLOSED TO TOURISTS
In 1974, the first international tourists were allowed into Bhutan by invite only. Today it’s fully open for tourism, but at the high cost of $250.00 a day per person. You must arrange all your travel through a government authorized tourist agency, but once you arrive everything is taken care of from food through to your transportation and guide.
3. GROSS NATIONAL HAPPINESS
Bhutan is the first country to switch from the western ideal of Gross National Product to “Gross National Happiness,” which is achieved through four foundations: good governance, natural environment, sustainable growth, and cultural values.
4. NO SMOKING
Bhutan is the first country to have outlawed tobacco in 2004. Although, in 2012 the laws were loosened and smuggling now occurs. It is still rare to see people smoking on the streets, but drugs and alcohol have continued to create problems and the government has started a program to educate and deter citizens from abusing or using the smuggled narcotics.
5. THE NATIONAL SPORT
The national sports of Bhutan are archery and darts.
6. NO TRAFFIC LIGHTS
The capital city, Thimphu, has no traffic lights– just white-gloved traffic officers. When the city tried to install some lights there was a public outcry, and they were promptly removed.
7. STATE RELIGION
Tantric Buddhism is the official religion, followed by Hinduism. Buddhism is state sponsored and the Dzong’s and temples are maintained and supported by the government. There are even trade schools to teach new artisans that work on the paintings and carvings of these holy places.
8. THE HIGHEST MOUNTAIN
Gangkhar Puensum is the highest mountain in Bhutan and considered so sacred that no one has yet climbed to its peak (7,572m/ 24,840ft). The views of the mountains as you drive across the high passes are jaw dropping and the highlight of any journey through Bhutan.
9. TV OR INTERNET
In 2001 Bhutan lifted its ban on TV and Internet—the last country in the world to do so. But today it is not strange to see computers and cell phones in the hands of teenagers especially in the capital city of Thimphu.
Bhutan is one of the only countries in the world where citizens have a constitutional obligation to preserve and protect the environment. You need to visit before it all changes. So you should visit Bhutan before it changes – the western world is slowly creeping in despite the governments best intentions.
SOURCE: JOSEPH KIELY