The Beginnings of Bhutan

This blog isn’t about the beginnings of the country of Bhutan itself. Rather it is about the beginnings of my own journey of making my decision to travel to Bhutan.

Although, the beginnings of the country of Bhutan itself are actually quite interesting, so I’ll throw in a few sentences about that. (It really would require another blog for all the details.)…The early history involves semi-nomadic herdsman. People of the Bon and Buddhist religions. Periods of turmoil and instability; and periods of victory and peace. Several key figures that changed the course of Bhutan’s history. Isolated from the outside world for centuries. Modern Bhutan with its philosophy of Gross National Happiness.

Bhutan Tiger's Nest

Taktsang Monastery aka Tiger’s Nest

Anyway, the trip that I will be taking in October 2011 actually began transforming in the back of my mind several years ago. In 2008, I knew that Beth (of Wanderlust and Lipstick, whose website you are on now) led groups to this fascinating country. I still even have some emails that I wrote to Beth back then about the possibility of my going to Bhutan.

However, other events in my life began to happen…the sale of one home, and the purchase of a new home. The birth of my niece! Now these things aren’t bad at all, and I do not regret not going to Bhutan several years ago, as I love our new home, and I of course, love and adore my niece. I guess you could say that the time and money involved in these things kept me from pursuing Bhutan.

Through the years though, I still managed to have some fabulous in-country trips to satisfy my travel bug. “Staycations,” as they call it. Alaska, with one of my sisters. Two long backpacking trips on the Wonderland Trail. And several trips to San Francisco (where my niece lives).

View of Himalayas Coming Into Bhutan

View of the Himalayas as approaching Bhutan

The years passed, and honestly, I had kind of forgotten about Bhutan. Then that travel bug creeped up on me big time at the end of 2010! Instead of staycations though, I felt like it was time for me to go abroad again. I had not been out of the country for over two years, and I wanted to go somewhere. But where?

For a month or so, I tossed around several ideas of where to travel. Many countries and continents came to mind that I had not yet been to. But no decisions had yet been made.

At the same time as the ideas were being tossed, I had already been reading a series of six blogs written by Beth on a trekking trip she had done in Eastern Bhutan. I was intrigued. Somewhere in the midst of all this, it said to contact her if anyone would be interested in traveling to Bhutan. I emailed her, and while at that time, her trips at that time weren’t scheduled till 2012, I wrote to her of my interest.

King of Bhutan and Fiance

King of Bhutan and Fiancé

Beth’s Eastern Bhutan trips combined experiencing local life, the people, the culture, the villages, and the religion. While at the same time, trekking in some beautiful scenery. All of that definitely appealed to me!

Then those 2012 trips got moved up a few months. To October 2011! Instead of going to the eastern side of the country, though, the trip involves the western side, but still with same combo of people and culture, with trekking and scenery. And just like that, I made my out-of-country travel decision, called Beth, and soon signed up. It was my beginnings of Bhutan…

Sweet Travels!

By the way, the King of Bhutan recently announced his wedding that is occurring in…October 2011. If you want to join me and Beth on the trip, don’t delay, as flights will be extremely difficult to secure during October. Here is a link for more information.

The history of the country of Bhutan is from this fabulous book written by a former Queen.

Treasures of the Thunder Dragon

Photo credits…Two from Beth Whitman, and King and Fiancé picture from the press.

Bhutan: Happy. Happier. Happiness.

“May all sentient beings have happiness and its causes…”  –  part of Brahma Viharas (The Four Immeasurables). Traditional Buddhist prayer before beginning mediation.

This is one of the main reasons I am going to Bhutan in October of this year:

Equitable socio-economic development. Conservation and protection of the environment.  Preservation and promotion of unique cultural heritage. Good, responsive governance in which people participate. Health care and education accessible to all. Roads and communication devices. Livestock and agricultural development. Traditional handicrafts.

These are the ingredients for happiness. In Bhutan.

Bhutan Gross National Happiness

Back in the 1970’s, Bhutan’s Fourth King, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, developed a unique and revolutionary philosophy for his people. His primary idea is that people strive for happiness. He coined it “Gross National Happiness.”

GHN is a way of measuring Bhutan’s development and economy, not by its Gross Domestic Product, but by the idea that material wealth alone does not bring happiness. The country’s development should really be measured by its citizens’ overall happiness and well-being.

Based in Buddhism (the main religion on Bhutan) and its spiritual values, GNH is aimed at balancing economic development, such as creating new jobs, having quality living standards and opportunities for the future, with providing for everyone’s physical, emotional, and spiritual health, as well as education, housing, and security. This includes the people living in even the most remote areas of Bhutan.

Some other ingredients for happiness include sharing interests with others; participating in cultural life, heritage, and local traditions; strong community feelings; healthy family relationships; and religion.

Smiley Face

For the past several decades, the Fourth King, and then his son, the Fifth King, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, and several Queens, have implemented these components for happiness, striving to make the people and country of Bhutan one of the happiest places on this planet. In fact, other countries and people around the world have thought about adopting the philosophy of GNH.

To show the success of GNH, in 2006, Bhutan was considered the eighth happiest country on this planet! Eight out of 195 countries. Now that’s happy! And that is one of the main reasons I am going to Bhutan.

Sweet (and very happy) Travels!

Much information on GNH from an awesome book written by a former Queen.

Treasures of the Thunder Dragon

Other information and King’s written slogan on GNH from Wikipedia.

Smiley face from clipartguide.com.

Bags are Packed for Bhutan!

Preliminary itinerary created. Time off work requested. Deposit check paid. [Airline tickets purchased.] Bags are packed. I’m going to Bhutan! Well, ok, maybe the bags aren’t packet yet. But I am going to Bhutan!

Bhutan. Land of the Thunder Dragon. A place where their quality of life is measured by Gross National Happiness, rather than Gross Domestic Product. Where they’ve been considered the eighth happiest country on this planet. Nestled in the Himalayas, surrounded by Tibet, Nepal, India, and China. Where Buddhism is the main religion and agriculture is a way of life. Sprinkled with temples and monasteries and prayer flags and prayer wheels. Where thirteen traditional arts and crafts are mastered. Where archery is the national sport and the takin is the national animal. Where trekking is common, and festivals abound.

Flag of Bhutan

Bhutan’s National Flag

In October of this year, I will be joining Beth Whitman of Wanderlust and Lipstick, and WanderTours, on her Bhutan Laya Trek.  But I’m planning on extending her trip, however, arriving in Bhutan a few days ahead in order to experience a festival and a few additional places. And after the Laya Trek trip, I will stay longer in the country and venture to the middle to gather other happy experiences.

Bhutan Takin Jigme Dorji National Park

Bhutan’s National Animal, The Takin

Please stay tuned for blogs about my planning of this trip, how it came to be, research that I am doing to learn more about the country, and how I prepare over the next six months [now, four and a half months] until departure.

Blue Himalyan Poppy

Bhutan’s National Flower, The Blue Poppy

Of course, I shall continue to blog about past trips to Vietnam, to Europe, to the Galapagos, and other assorted travels.

Sweet (and Happy) Travels!

Photo Credits: All from Wikipedia.

Bhutan: Bags are Packed!

Preliminary itinerary created. Time off work requested. Deposit check paid. Bags are packed. I’m going to Bhutan! Well, ok, maybe the bags aren’t packet yet. But I am going to Bhutan!

Bhutan. Land of the Thunder Dragon. A place where their quality of life is measured by Gross National Happiness, rather than Gross Domestic Product. Where they’ve been considered the eighth happiest country on this planet. Nestled in the Himalayas, surrounded by Tibet, Nepal, India, and China. Where Buddhism is the main religion and agriculture is a way of life. Sprinkled with temples and monasteries and prayer flags and prayer wheels. Where thirteen traditional arts and crafts are mastered. Where archery is the national sport and the takin is the national animal. Where trekking is common, and festivals abound.

Flag of Bhutan

Bhutan’s National Flag

In October of this year, I will be joining Beth Whitman of Wanderlust and Lipstick, and WanderTours, on her Bhutan Laya Trek.  But I’m planning on extending her trip, however, arriving in Bhutan a few days ahead in order to experience a festival and a few additional places. And after the Laya Trek trip, I will stay longer in the country and venture to the middle to gather other happy experiences.

Bhutan Takin Jigme Dorji National Park

Bhutan’s National Animal, The Takin

Please stay tuned for blogs about my planning of this trip, how it came to be, research that I am doing to learn more about the country, and how I prepare over the next six months until departure.

Blue Himalyan Poppy Bhutan National Flower

Bhutan’s National Flower, The Blue Poppy

Of course, I shall continue to blog about past trips to Vietnam, to Europe, to the Galapagos, and other assorted travels.

Sweet (and Happy) Travels!

Photo Credits: All from Wikipedia.