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Bhutan: Shangri-La and Land of Happiness


World  (tags: Bhutan, travel, video, people )

Kit
- 374 days ago - youtu.be
Bhutan, or the Kingdom of Bhutan, is one of the most isolated places in the world. It is located between India and South China with a population of about 700,000 people.



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Kit B. (277)
Tuesday July 16, 2013, 10:30 am
Map of Bhutan: world atlas.com


Bhutan, or the Kingdom of Bhutan, is one of the most isolated places in the world. It is located between India and South China with a population of about 700,000 people. The Land of the Thunder Dragon, as it is called, gets its name from the violent storms that often arrive from the Himalayas during the stormy seasons. Bhutan, is the last independent Buddhist kingdom in the world with over 95% of its citizens being Buddhists and the beliefs and culture of the country is protected by the Bhutanese government from all foreign influences. The bringing of any religious paraphernalia other than Buddhist paraphernalia, is restricted and violators can be prosecuted by law. The nation of Bhutan has slowly become a tourism attraction over the past decade because of the country's beauty and uniqueness. When visiting Asia, particularly Bhutan, there are five important things that tourists need to know.

5 Facts You Might Not Know

1 Tobacco is banned in Bhutan, and cigarettes and other tobacco products are inaccessible in the Nation of Bhutan. Police can raid homes and enforce the tobacco free law of the Nation.

2 Tourists are expected to spend a minimum of $200 US Dollars a day, which means visiting the area can be an expensive adventure. This was mandated to keep tourism at a minimum due to the size of the country. Bhutan is too small to accept massive tourists at one time.

3 The Bhutan tradition is to refuse food when it is offered you for up to three times before accepting the offer.

4 Also, you are expected to cover your mouth and say the words 'meshu' twice before accepting food offered to you.

5 Bhutan is one of the few 43 landlocked countries in the world. Landlocked countries are cut-off from fishing and the access to seaborne trade, which makes Bhutan and other landlocked countries, financially distressed nations or areas.
The capital of Bhutan is Thimphu. The currency of Bhutan is the Indian Rupee(INR).


Until recently, the tiny Asian kingdom of Bhutan remained tucked away in total isolation from the rest of the world. That segregation helped to preserve its deep Buddhist traditions, importance of the family and pristine landscapes. It’s also made it a fascinating country to study.

10. One of 43 landlocked countries in the world, Bhutan is about half the size of the state of Indiana.

9. The word “Bhutan” translates to “Land of the Thunder Dragon.” It earned the nickname because of the fierce storms that often roll in from the Himalayas.

8. Bhutan is the first country in the world with specific constitutional obligations on its people to protect the environment. Among its requirements: At least 60 percent of the nation must remain under forest cover at all times.

7. One-third of Bhutan’s population is under the age of 14; its median age is 22.3 years.

6. Thimpu is one of just two capital cities in Asia that does not have a single traffic light. (The other is Pyongyang, North Korea.) There was such public outcry when local officials installed a single signal that it was quickly removed, and a traffic officer was re-assigned to the intersection.

5. Bhutan is the only nation in the world where the sale of tobacco is banned.

4. At 24,840 feet, Gangkhar Puensum is the highest point in Bhutan—and the highest unclimbed mountain in the world.

3. Bhutanese manners dictate that you are to refuse food whenever it’s offered to you. The tradition is to say the words “meshu meshu” and cover your mouth with your hands. You can give in, though, after two or three offers.

2. Anyone found guilty of killing a highly endangered and culturally sacred black-necked crane could be sentenced to life in prison.

1. Bhutan is one of the last countries in the world to introduce television to its people. The government lifted a ban on TV—and on the Internet—only 11 years ago.

Food --

Bhutanese food is rice, generally a local red rice, served with either a little dried meat cooked with very hot chilies or red capsicum onum or a sauce made from chilies and local cheese. Bhutan food is generally know for it's simplicity but in reality it really is quite a specialty to marry the flavours and the spices... not to mention the effort involved in getting and maintaining the ingredients.

Mealtime is typically a relaxed time in Bhutan. It is a social event and family get together; however, the time spent eating may depend as much on how much is put on the table as the need for conversation. Three meals a day is typical, and it is not unusual for those three meals to all consist of rice and ema datse. At a hotel restaurant the full cutlery ensemble will be provided, but in a local café you may be limited to the option of a spoon or using your right hand and bowl of rice to mop up the meal.

SPECIAL DISHES:

Ema Datshi or Ema Datse - vegetarian dish made of cheese and chili - a must tryPhak sha laphu - stewed pork with radishYak skin - fried and served as a snackNo Sha huentseu - stewed beef with spinachPhak sha phin tshoem - pork with rice noodlesBja sha maroo - chicken in garlic and butter sauceMomos - yummy dumplings - chicken, pork, or cheeseMushrooms - there are over 400 varieties of edible mushrooms - some of the mushroom flavors are magicCheese - is very common and something the Bhutanese people are very particular of. Cheese is made from cow, goat and yaks milk.Dal bhat - simple rice and lentilsNON SPICY - kewa datse - potatoes with cheese sauceBarthu - fried noodles or noodle soupRed rice - is preferred to white rice though there is a lot of white riceZow - boiled then fried riceBreakfast generally consists of puffed corn or rice soaked in butter tea though porridge is also common.

Vegetarian and Vegan

There is a good variety of vegetarian food available, although much of it is made using a liberal amount of chili and a smothering of cheese sauce. Ingredients such as nettles, fern fronds, orchids, asparagus, taro and several varieties of mushroom appear in traditional vegetarian dishes. Vegans should ask if a dish contains cheese or eggs when ordering.

It is quite common to see bright red chilies (small peppers) drying on the roof and strips of yak meat or beef hanging out to dry in the sun like a line of washing.

Food Culture and Customs in Bhutan

When invited to a meal: If you are offered food or drink, it is considered polite to decline at first. Your host will not take your refusal too seriously and will continue to offer refreshments. Similarly, if you are entertaining a Bhutanese guest, be more insistent in offering food or drink than you would be in your home country.Tea is about as common as water... in fact, more tea might be drunk than plain water. When having tea with someone older or in a formal setting, the cup should be held in the hand and not put on the table so as to show your respect. There are two types of tea: suitja which is tea with butter and salt and natja which is tea with milk and sugar.Chang, a local beer, and ara, a spirit distilled from rice, maize, wheat or barley, depending on which crop is grown in that area, are also popular drinks. In the East, instead of tea, chang or ara may be offered. Again, it is polite to have at least two glasses. If you really dislike it, a few sips will be acceptable. Sometimes ara is served hot with a raw egg broken into it.The Bhutanese eat with their right hand.The dried cheese, churpi or chugui, which looks like an eraser, is very hard and is chewed between meals as a snack.Doma or betel nut is often offered at the end of a meal.Guests will often leave as soon as the meal is finished. At an official dinner, the guest of honour will indicate when it is time to leave; normally nobody will leave before s/he does for this is disrespectful.

Drinking in Bhutan

Nonalcoholic Drinks

Indian style sweet milky tea (ngad-ja) is widely available and may be served in a pot. Bhutanese frequently drink sud-ja, Tibetan style tea with salt and butter, which is more like soup than tea, and surprisingly tasty and warming on a cold day. Filter coffee and espresso is available in the top end hotels and a few restaurants in Thimphu, but elsewhere ‘coffee’ is invariably of the instant variety.
****
 

Pat B. (354)
Tuesday July 16, 2013, 11:11 am
Gorgeous scenery. Enjoyed reading about this tiny nation, and their customs too. Thank you, Kit for our adventure to Bhutan.
 

NicoleAWAY W. (629)
Tuesday July 16, 2013, 11:25 am
I so enjoy your travel tours Kit!
 

Kit B. (277)
Tuesday July 16, 2013, 11:49 am

I know most people do not have the time for hour long tours, but honestly the longer the videos the more beautiful the sights in this tiny, but "eye candy" of a country. The scenery in Bhutan is just breath-taking.
 

Roger Garin-michaud (61)
Tuesday July 16, 2013, 2:40 pm
noted, thanks!
 

Jennifer C. (172)
Tuesday July 16, 2013, 5:17 pm
Thanks.
 

Vicky P. (462)
Tuesday July 16, 2013, 7:12 pm
very nice, lots of history
 

Bhutan Rebirth (0)
Wednesday July 17, 2013, 3:51 am
Hi, nice article but just wanted to make it just a bit more accurate (on behalf of BhutanRebirth.com)

You said: The bringing of any religious paraphernalia other than Buddhist paraphernalia, is restricted and violators can be prosecuted by law.
I'm saying: Please be our guest. Religious paraphernalia is allowed, export of antiques is not.

You said Tobacco is banned and Police can raid homes and enforce the tobacco free law of the Nation.
I'm saying: No, Tobacco is not banned completely. A certain amount can be imported for personal use and smoked in private. Tobacco (smoking or chewing) is available illegally and a certain amount permissible to import and smoke in private places. Police cannot raid homes like that just for tobacco. They could if they suspect hoarding of abused drugs but not usually and only with extreme proof. Tobacco laws may be amended with the new government.

You said: Tourists are expected to spend a minimum of $200 US Dollars a day, which means visiting the area can be an expensive adventure.
I'm saying: The tourist tariff is US$ 250 in high season (March, April, May, September, October & November) and US$ 200 in low season. This goes towards hotels, fooding, transport and guide. Well, almost everything but the air fares and the visa which is US$ 40. Yes, an expensive adventure but I hope worth it.

You said: The Bhutan tradition is to refuse food when it is offered you for up to three times before accepting the offer.
I say: True, but there is no three times rule. Once should do. Your point No. 4 is same as no3. where 'mishu' means no thank you politely. Risky, especially if you're hungry and they stop asking after the second time ;)

You mention Bhutan is one of the few landlocked countries in the world.
I say true, I had one English friend in particular who used to love introducing me by saying "and he comes from a country with the world's largest navy" ;)

You say: The currency of Bhutan is the Indian Rupee (INR).
I say: Oops, no, not at all. Bhutan is a sovereign country and the currency is the Ngultrum (=100 chetrums). It is however pegged 1:1 with the Indian rupee as the Bhutanese economy depends very much on India.

You say: Thimphu is one of just two capital cities in Asia that does not have a single traffic light. (The other is Pyongyang, North Korea.)
I say that I had no idea there was another traffic light-less city. Yo, Pyongyang! How's it going? hey, watch it, that car's coming through!!

You said "Anyone found guilty of killing a highly endangered and culturally sacred black-necked crane could be sentenced to life in prison.
I say "No, there are hefty fines (for a Bhutanese) when endangered and protected animals are killed such as Tigers, Leopards, Elephants and Rhinoceros. There is a life sentence for those found guilty of robbing and desecrating a chorten (religious stupas where religious and valuable items are kept as an offering to the Gods)

You say Bhutan is one of the last countries in the world to introduce television to its people. The government lifted a ban on TV—and on the Internet—only 11 years ago.
I say True, that is how I am sitting here in Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan writing these small corrections here.

You say At an official dinner, the guest of honour will indicate when it is time to leave; normally nobody will leave before s/he does for this is disrespectful.
I say I thought this happened in Washington DC diplomat circles. In Bhutan they're probably staying back because that's when the fun begins.

Anyway it seems you and your commentators liked our country. I am glad on behalf of my country and my fellow citizens and say Thank You.

Do visit again and explore more.

Keshav Gurung
Bhutan Rebirth Tours & Treks
 

Lona Goudswaard (67)
Wednesday July 17, 2013, 4:25 am
Beautiful country, hope to visit one day.
 

Franck R. (50)
Wednesday July 17, 2013, 5:38 am
Beautifull
 

JL A. (272)
Wednesday July 17, 2013, 8:07 am
So clean and peaceful--no litter to be seen. Wonder what meaning attaches to spinning the various cylinders...thanks Kit.
 

Bryna Pizzo (139)
Wednesday July 17, 2013, 12:53 pm
Thank you for sharing a nation that protects the environmnet as the creator intended. I didn' t want to leave!
(n, p, t)
 

Natasha Salgado (511)
Thursday July 18, 2013, 7:29 am
Thanks 4 the lovely tour of Bhutan Kit! I would visit this country simply 4 their views towards the environment and animal welfare...I sent their government a letter awhile back to show my appreciation---and to which I received a wonderful response back!
 

marie tc (166)
Thursday July 18, 2013, 4:42 pm
So wonderful I am trying to choose a favorite trip very difficult
Thank you so very much Kit
Your trips are a fantastic idea enjoying so much
 
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