Travels to Bhutan: the Last Secret

On the Road…. again

The following is a little traveler’s log on my way to the next race, Bhutan: the Last Secret put on by Global Limits.

  

I’m once again on an incredibly long intercontinental flight. Feeling incredibly sluggish after waking up from a fitful sleep. I was working nights before this trip and I can’t tell if my upside down sleep-wake cycle is going to be of benefit on this trip or not. Right now it feels like not. I took the same 7am flight to Philadelphia as I took a few months ago when I traveled to Sri Lanka. And now I’m on the same flight to Doha on Qatar Airways. A traveler’s ground hog day if you will.

I do have a traveling companion this time, Erin. She is the EMS fellow at Upstate Medical. She has already been on a few races throughout her fellowship so it will be really nice to have an experienced medical team. I’m looking forward to this trip – I haven’t even been able to imagine what it will be like in Bhutan.

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Qatar to Bangkok was uneventful. It was another 6 hours in the air. I tried to watch a movie but ended up falling asleep. It was strange to be served breakfast after not sleeping much over the last two days. But it was a delicious “Arabic” breakfast, so not really breakfast-y at all. We landed in Bangkok around 7pm. Getting through immigration and customs was surprisingly easy. I wasn’t sure if I should declare the medical equipment so I asked one of the customs officers. I think I confused the poor girl so much that she just waved me through. The hotel was literally a 5 minute shuttle ride from the airport. Once again, my travel agenet, Steve Turner, did a phenomenal job. The hotel was much nicer than expected and had a restaurant in its lobby. I do feel like eating in hotels is slightly cliche, especially when visiting a new country, but after almost 24 hours of travel, it was about all I could muster. I had an excellent dish of Pad Thai and it was finally time for bed. The soft bed felt delicious but unfortunately I was wide awake at 3am with subsequent tossing and turning until it was time to head to the airport. Finally, the last leg. The approach into Paro, Bhutan was everything I thought it would be. At some points in the flight the mountains sloped away and above the aircraft. The plane made steep s-turns to stay in the valley until finally descending onto the short runway. The airport is a beautiful wooden building with colorful carvings along the roof-line. I’m excited to be here.

The ride to Thimphu from the airport was absolutely gorgeous. The mountains rise sharply from the road and are covered in velvet green and sharp Cypress trees. Every building is a picture of neatness with immaculate paint and ornate carvings. Dogs line the roads and small families picnic at picturesque viewpoints. The hotel is very nice with high ceilings and hard wood floors. Lunch felt like a Cambodia runner’s reunion with a buffet lunch that managed to be bland yet spicy. We were taken on a short sight-seeing tour that included several holy/prayer grounds, a giant Buddha on a hillside, and a zoo that featured the never heard of before (at least to me anyway) Takin. The Buddhist sites have numerous prayer wheels that bent elderly Bhutanese with betel stained teeth continuously spin on a clockwise rotation. Tents are set up where more fervent devotees sit and pray. We were able to walk into one temple where monks were frantically handing around boxes of chips and other snacks. According to our guide, the food are brought as offerings to the gods. After the foodstuffs are blessed, they are then passed out, and those who have been devoting their day to prayer now have lunch. Eerie chanting accompanied the spinning of the prayer wheels and burning of the cypress oil, leading to an overall very mystic experience. So different. So interesting.
  
One of the small structures that houses prayer wheels.

This one should be pretty self-explanatory.  He’s over 100 feet tall!

Laura and I at the Buddha statue.  I was lucky enough to work with Laura both in Cambodia and Sri Lanka.

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