Exotic Bhutan: Our Final Hurrah in Asia

February 7, 2011

It is decided.  We’re going ALL-OUT for our final trip in Southeast Asia.  I can’t even begin to explain the ginormous amount of pressure we had placed on planning this trip…

You see, it was absolutely critical that we pick the **PERFECT** trip because:

  1. It is the only major trip we’re going to take this year (aside from taking home leave in MN and OR and relocating to DC)
  2. It’s our very last trip in Asia (I mean, what if we never come back to this region of the world???  Learning Spanish often means you get permanently stationed in Central and South American)
  3. We intend to have a baby in the very near future, so this could very likely be our last kidless trip!

Knowing that, some of the factors we rated most important on this particular trip were:

  1. Something we wouldn’t do with kids
  2. Something adventure-oriented that took advantage of our good physical health
  3. Something we may not be able to afford later on
  4. Something exotic and off the beaten path
  5. Someplace peaceful and serene with no people and very little tourism (Nick’s requirement, not mine – it seems that living in a city of 13 million is starting to get to him)

And honestly, after all that narrowing, there was really one clear choice: The Kingdom of Bhutan

Why We Knew Bhutan was “THE SPOT”

  • The Population of the entire country is just shy of the 1,000,000 mark (and the country is roughly the size of Switzerland)
  • The National Sport is Archery
  • The country is 75% Buddhist, 25% Hindu
  • The country has no Diplomatic relations with the US (the other 3 are Cuba, Iran and North Korea – interesting company, huh? )
  • The country had no paved roads until the 1960’s, launched television in 1999 and got cell phones in the early 2000’s.
  • The country didn’t open to tourists until 1974.
  • The literacy rate is 42% and life expectancy is 66.
  • The country does not measure GDP, instead they measure something they call Gross National Happiness (NO LIE).
  • The country has an average elevation of 8,000 feet above sea level and is bordered to the west by the Himalayas.
  • There were only 30,000 tourists in 2010!

Truly, this is the land that time forgot; perhaps the last Shangri-la on the planet.  I can honestly say that I am STOKED beyond belief!!  I know this will be the highlight of our year.  Now that we’ve selected our Butanese tour operator (required for travel in the country), booked our flight on the country’s only airline and wired our money (no credit cards accepted), all we have to do is count down the days until mid-April!

I’ll share more about our plans in upcoming posts but for now I’ll just leave you with a map of Southeast Asia so you can see exactly where Bhutan is located!  It gets a bit lost between China and India, so look closely…

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  1. Joyce says:

    JEALOUS, JEALOUS JEALOUS!!!!! However, we WOULD take a kid there and probably did on a few of our own excursions. Makes you want to become a Buddhist doesn’t it?

  2. naomi says:

    Ooh — that’s on our list as well! It’s a hidden gem and treasure!

    You should “shoot over” to Delhi while you’re at it, so we can hang out :)

  3. Robin says:

    This sounds incredible!
    I look forward to hearing about your adventures there. May be added to our list of places to go over the next two years in Hong Kong! :D I like your decision making process too… sounds familiar. Especially the “what do we want to do before we have children and while we are still in really good physical health” part… always a focal point of our discussions around here. Enjoy!

  4. Daniela says:

    Yeah, we’ve been thinking about it too because we read somewhere that any consular/diplomatic stuff related to Bhutan was handled by Embassy New Delhi, which is where we are headed next year. I can’t wait to hear more…

  5. alex says:

    Soooo jealous!

  6. “The happiest place on earth” — Karl is now totally jealous, seems like he have always wanted to go there!

  7. sarahlynn60 says:

    Yeah, you would have taken a kid! :) And yes, I’m very pumped to learn more about Buddhism…

  8. sarahlynn60 says:

    We’ll scout it out for you and then you can benefit from all our learning! As much as I’d love to visit, we’re unfortunately going through Bangkok instead due to flight routing! Keep the faith though, I’m certain we’ll cross paths sooner or later!

  9. sarahlynn60 says:

    You can expect a full trip report and extensive photos!

  10. sarahlynn60 says:

    Yup, it is! The good news is that the airline that flies there (DrukAir) has only 5 connector cities and one is New Delhi! That’ll definitely make it easier for you to get there, as you won’t have to do the transfer! You can expect a full review of the trip on the blog!

  11. sarahlynn60 says:

    :) Yeah, it’s pretty dreamy. I’ve always wanted to go there!

  12. sarahlynn60 says:

    Yeah, it’s been on my list for a long, long time…

  13. Caroline says:

    I’ve read about Bhutan and their GNH, and I have to say I’m fascinated. Traveling to Asia has not been a possibility for us yet, but Bhutan is definitely one place I’d love to visit. Yet another way I’m living vicariously through you.

  14. sarahlynn60 says:

    You can rest assured knowing that I will provide you with a comprehensive review + photographs! :)

  15. naomi says:

    We’re in the middle of planning the kids’ spring break trip … and after reading your post, am going to try to convince Todd that it might be the time to go! (if we could swing it, it’d be right before you guys go!!)

  16. sarahlynn60 says:

    Yay! Very cool…. just sent you an email with some more information about it!

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