Thimphu is beautiful – I love this country, already!
Yesterday we spent some time getting our permits, the govt officials were courteous, and we got our permits within a few hours of applying. We hiked up to the Takin reserve, established by the Royal Family, accompanied by our self-appointed guide Tenzing.
Thimphu is a beautiful city. I dont know about Gross National Happiness but what I do see around me is this –
The roads are clean, traffic snarls are non-existent, the air is pure and crisp. The houses are all the same, built in the traditional style, which is why there is a harmony to the city. The mountains surround the city, there is greenery around. Children play in the parks. A group of young kids were training for soccer. I could walk on the street alone at 10 pm at night without any catcalls. Somehow, this place is safe. I guess thats the big difference from the other side of the border.
The difference was apparent the minute I crossed into Bhutan from the border town of Jaigaon in India. Jaigaon was haphazard, dirty, plastic-littered, full of rickshaws and autos. Phuntsholing in Bhutan was neat, orderly, clean air. Sigh.
TOday we visited the ountryside of Punakha – rice fields, green waters of the two rivers, the large Dzong dominating the village. And the Dochu -la pass with the Chortens that the Bhutanese built to atone for the sin of killing the ULFA militants holed up in Bhutan. And let me not forget the Awesome views of the Himalayan range from the Pass.
The Bhutanese are lucky!