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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Who wants to go to Bhutan: Into the Realm of Happiness


Did you hear the news? We are going to Bhutan. This June. With a guide. That’s me.  And we have an itinerary. To which we might not stick a whole lot. Travel needs its share of mystery too.

We shall  start in Thimpu, the only capital city in the world with no traffic lights. And of course, we shall pant all the way up to Buddha Point, from the top of which you can see the whole city going about its business. We must also pay our respects to the Takin – that strange animal that looks like a cross between a goat and a bull. Not sure if it will raise as much as an eyebrow. Eating seems to be the only thing it’s fascinated by.

We shall also be in Taschiko Monastery at dusk to see the flag retreat. The last time I was in that serene monastery,  I was smiling and wondering how peaceful I felt among Buddhist priests and that’s when a monk of twenty or so passed me by was singing loudly to himself, “Kiss me baby, kiss me baby hoth tere garam masala”. I haven’t still really recovered.






We shall get our permits and go to Punakha, the old capital of Bhutan. And there we shall go to the Punkha Dzong, sitting pretty at the confluence of two rivers. It is the second largest and second oldest Dzong in the country. We shall sit on the banks and dip our feet in the river. All unsuspecting group members will be pushed into the river of course. Heh, a man must have his fun , right!

Paro should be the highlight of the trip. For we are all going to hike up to Tiger Nest, that beautiful monastery set right at the precipice of the cliff.



But you aren’t on a regular trip with a travel agency, are you? The idea is not just to see a place for its sights or monuments. Any traveller who has been on the road for long enough will tell you that travel, at the end of it all, is not just about the place or sights. It is even more so about the people you meet.  When we travel, we must try to leave our comfort zones. We must try to strike conversations in pubs and bars, on hills and farms. We must learn, we must laugh, we must talk and we must sing. We must love, we must feel attracted, to our friends or someone we meet. Some of my favourite memories from my trip to Vietnam are with four boys from South Africa and the US, running through the jungles and yelling from all we were worth.



We should be okay with getting dirty in the mud. And of course we shall get off from our vehicles when we see a river, and will jump into it. We shall get into the waterfall just before Tiger Nest Monastery and we shall scream in delight when the cold water numbs us.



We must learn local words and eat local food. I have never really met a single local who did not try to help me, when I said "hello" in the local language, and smiled at them.

My first batch is full. 12 boys and girls. And now I am looking for people to join the second batch(June 15-21). I am quite surprised by the overwhelming response. Two weeks back, I wasn’t even sure if I would get one full batch. But as they say, one can't really hit a target unless one sees it.

Fortune, my friend, favours the bold.

I always wanted to lead tours. To meet people, to tell stories, to share culture and to induce madness. If these things make sense to you, and you have free dates in June, why don’t you come to Bhutan with us?

Everyone is going to go up to Tiger Nest Monastery. If someone decides to give up midway, I am of course going to drag you by the soles of your feet all the way up the mountain. Like I said,  you are not on a regular trip with a travel agency, are you?



We are going to the realm of happiness - to the only country in the world that uses happiness as an index to measure development. It is going to an experience.

Come if you can.


--- The End ----

 
p.s If you want to join in, contact me @ narayanan.neeraj@gmail.com  or call me at 07838917760

Here is the facebook link to the trip

Now go on and read,


1) Climbing Tiger's Nest Monastery

2) The Thimpu Book Store

3) Conversations with a Russian backpacker