Bhutan Day 1 – arrival to Paro, afternoon in Thimphu
Many people who plan their visit to Bhutan, start their preparatory work from watching the movie “Landing in Paro” on YouTube.com. So did I. This was actually very good idea because during the landing I must have kept my eyes closed😔. During the last 7-10 minutes of the flight our airbus 319 was circulating between the mountains, turning left and tight to end up with the final left turn before touching down the runway of Paro airport (my wife told me so 😜).
The immigration procedures were fast and not complicated. We also exchanged some money here, however the rate was some 10% less than in Thimphu or Paro. As the local currency is linked to Indian rupee, do not wonder if you receive some Indian banknotes at exchange point. After having left the terminal we met our guide and driver from DrukAsia and we started our tour throughout this beautiful country.
After we’ve left the airport we took the local road to Thimphu. When looking on Google Maps, one can notice that the main roads in Bhutan are named “highway”. In practice they are definitely not highways 😄. The roads are narrow, steep and curvy although well maintained. On top of this, every herd of cows on the road means a mandatory break because of the respect to animals in this Buddhist country.
During the first 10 minutes of drive I wanted to ask the guide to stop the car every 200 meters. Everything was so new and different to me. I was calmed down to wait till the next planned stop at Tachog Lakhang with the first hanging bridge experienced in my life.
After 40-minutes stop in Tachog Lakhang and re-charging our batteries after 6-hours-flight from Singapore we took off to Thimphu with one more stop on the bridge where the roads from Paro, Thimphu and Haa cross.
After having arrived in Thimphu we have been taken to the National Memorial Chorten which was built in 1974 to honor the third king of Bhutan (Bhutanese people identify their kings rather by the sequence than by name).
From the National Memorial Chorten we went to the Heritage Museum where we experienced the national drink – butter tea, which is the mixture of tea, yak milk and salt. Moreover, we tried the national Bhutanese sport – the archery (with miserable result 😔).
We ended this busy day with the visit to the local market, which is generally divided in three sections: local food products, imported food products and the souvenirs. Nice to see, however the souvenirs found here are not of the best quality. More interesting things can be found in the souvenir shops in the Centre of Thimphu or Paro.