Bhutan: The Hidden Kingdom

Seniors… imagine a country committed to people’s happiness. Get ready to travel to a land where Gross National Happiness measures the wealth of a nation.  It is time to travel high in the Himalayans to encounter the peaceful kingdom that has long drawn mystics and seekers and that rewards modern-day senior visitors with a taste of tradition undisturbed.

“Bhutan” is a Kachari word; at one time Bhutan was part of Tibet. “A place of Bod” in Tibetan, Di-Bod meant a place of frozen water, it later became DiBodo / Tibodo / Tibet. In terms of average wage, Bhutan is a poor country, however the land is fertile and the population small, so the people are well fed, and beggars and homeless are practically nonexistent. In addition, the current generation receives free education, and all citizens have access to free medical care.

Buddhism and culture are one in Bhutan

Called the Dragon Kingdom,  Bhutan is a distant and devout land where Buddhism and culture are one and the same. You will undoubtedly fly into Paro that is Bhutan’s only international airport.  You will want to visit the historic Ringpung Dzong dating to 1646. This is the winter home of the Central Monk Body and one of the country’s most attractive monasteries.  It is set on a land between two rivers called the “Mother” and the “Father” rivers.

From Ringpung Dzong it’s a 3 hour bus drive to Thimphu the Himalayan country’s capital and largest city.  You will want to take in the Memorial Chorten, the best-known religious landmark and a colorful weekend market.

And on to Punakha

It is suggested that you travel to Punakha via the Duchaula Pass that is over 10,000 feet and that affords a stunning view over the Himalayas. Daily, seniors can observe the locals raising prayer flags in the name of peace and compassion.

Bhutan, the “Land of the Thunder Dragon”

The Land of the Thunder Dragon, is no ordinary place. This is a country where buying cigarettes is illegal, where the rice is red and where chillies aren’t just a seasoning but the entire dish. It’s also a deeply Buddhist land, where men wear a tunic to work, where giant protective penises are painted on the walls of most houses, and where Gross National Happiness is deemed more important than Gross National Product.

Tourism in Bhutan is unique. Visitors famously have to pay a minimum of US$200 per day, making it one of the world’s most expensive countries to visit. But this fee is all-inclusive, you don’t have to travel in a group and you can arrange your own itinerary.

Senior Visitors Discover Land of Surprises

Bhutan is a country of surprises. This is not just a nation of the saintly and otherworldly, these days you’ll find monks transcribing ancient Buddhist texts into computers as traditionally dressed noble men chat on their mobile phones.

Lonely Planet has several tips on money and costs and tips that seniors will find helpful. There can be little doubt that you will come away from this adventure full of unmatched memories. Besides the stunning natural scenery, the enduring image of the country for most senior visitors is the strong sense of culture and tradition that binds the kingdom and clearly distinguishes it from its larger neighbors.

Bhutan is the only Vajrayana Buddhist in the world, and the profound teachings of this tradition remain well preserved and exert a strong influence in all aspects of life. Due to its pristine environment and harmonious society, the tiny Kingdom of Bhutan has been called “The Last Shangrila.” “If the thought is good, peace and path are good.” (Bhutanese Proverb) Enjoy your adventure to Bhutan. jeb

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