Thursday, April 16, 2009

Re-discovering Bhutan

I am back.  I mean back to Thimphu and back to my blog. I have been away on a long walking tour to Lhuentse that took us to all the eight gewogs (sub-districts) and to almost every village and households. Well, to describe everything in one sentence – the trip was just enlightening!  In every sense I must say. 

Let me share some of my experiences.

First of all, we live in a beautiful country.  I may sound obvious but at times between all our mundane problems and challenges posed by our sophisticated modern life in Thimphu, we forget the obvious. And a trip like this is a pleasant reminder that we are blessed to be born, and to be living, in such a beautiful place.  I have travelled to many countries around the world.  So you can trust me when I say this.  I place a picture of a hamlet in
Kurtoe to further support my statement.

So, if an opportunity comes to you to get out of Thimphu and go to these places, just do it!

Second, the true spirit, or the character, of Bhutan is out there – in the villages, among those farmers and in the eyes and faces of thousands of people we met along the trail. But these places are getting empty as more and more people are attracted by the urban limelight and modern
paraphernalia.  So it makes me wonder what would become of our villages (and our country) when this group, living there now, leaves this world.

So, if there is anything you could do to retain our villages, just do it!

And lastly, this fall I plan to take my children to see what I have seen so that they grow up appreciating what is truly Bhutanese.  Raising them in Thimphu, I am afraid, is no different from raising them anywhere else.  We have TV, we have
iPods, we have cars, we have everything that are quite un-Bhutanese.  A journey to discover our own country is perhaps what my daughters need – especially the elder one who is moving to her teens few years from now.

Well here, I must say, create an opportunity to travel back to your roots.  Forget Bangkok or Hong Kong for once.  You will not only re-discover your own country but you will also find 'yourself'.  Your essence of being a Bhutanese, and may be, a better human being.  I am sure it would be something you and your children would cherish forever.  Just do it, man!

(Here is a haiku (a form of Japanese poetry) sent by She Yo En inspired by the above photograph.  Thanks She Yo En!)

Behind the distant mountains
The white fluffy clouds appearing hopeful
While the hamlet at rest 


  1. I agree that we are born in a beautiful do others I suppose. But don't you think the picture of the hamlet in kurtoe looks a bit gloomy..?

    Oh I must say I am fan of your wonderful writeups..

  2. Thanks Kinga,

    I thought the picture was so beautiful. Let me see if I can find something less gloomy in my album.


  3. First of all, 'welcome back.' I missed reading your blog posts.

    I can very well picture what you've tried to describe and express. I can still quite vividly remember my national services days (1980's) when I and four other fresh graduate girls travelled to all the dzongkhags (18 at that time) to visit rural homes with smokeless stoves. I agree with you that the real Bhutan is out there and that's what I tell my foreign friends. And, yes, you're right about the villages getting empty - one of the emerging issues for agriculture in terms of shortage of labour. Our village people may be sufficient in land, no doubt, but the productivity of the land is what matters for food self sufficiency and even income generation, right? Bhutan is bountiful in natural resources (who can debate that?), but isn't it important to explore their economic viability - for individuals as well as the nation at large? Perhaps, a raise of hope and aspiration there will retain people in the villages.

    By the way, I like your photographs - contemplative is what they are. I like the subtlety of hope in the first picture.

  4. hi, Long long time no see. good to see you again. i wonder if you are in HM's entourage cause the timing is same. Anyways, bravo!!! You really have seen true Bhutan and real Bhutanese. Get going. All the best in your endeavours.

  5. HI Dorji.
    Your lates blog will soon appear at the news section of

    Stay well,

    Sem Zangpo

  6. A Haiku for your picture:

    Behind the distant mountains
    The white fluffy clouds appearing hopeful
    While the hamlet at rest


  7. Welcome back..

    We don't value things we take for granted.

    And this is true with our beautiful villages and the valleys. We can do nothing but just reminisce and miss them when they become empty and hollow..

    But to have this beauty and the way of life for perpetuity, we need something more than just travelling back once or twice a year to re-discover ourselves.

    And I hope we can do this sooner than later..