So, I am way late on blogging about our adventure in Bhutan, but, in my defense… I did get pretty sick the last day, and that lowered my motivation level for recalling it. But, it wasn’t Bhutan’s fault that I got sick, but Dhaka’s. I carried influenza with me from here. That gave me a rather novel opportunity to review their healthcare, which, more or less, reminded me of the summer camp nurses’ offices from my youth. Wood paneling… Tylenol… lots of cardboard boxes with handwritten labels. I had an IV, with a latex tubing system. Latex? What is this… 1960?
Regardless, Bhutan was beautiful, very peaceful, and very clean. The air was wonderfully brisk, both because of the chill and because of the lower oxygen content at altitude.
We arrived on a direct flight from Dhaka, wending through the mountainous landing path before touching down. You really do feel like you could reach out and touch the surrounding mountains, and the pilot cannot land on a straight descent. The planes are all relatively small for international travel, as they have to negotiate the tight mountain terrain. We deplaned onto the tarmac, and all the tourists immediately started snapping pics of the plane, the flight attendants, the views, the tiny airport, etc. So did we. We were tourists too, after all.
Our guide picked us up after immigration. To visit Bhutan, you must purchase a rather expensive daily visa that includes a guide, lodging and meals (though upgrades are available). For us, that included a hotel room with a private bath, a space heater and a private sun porch. It was rather chilly, but the hotel staff was great, and loved taking Neko from us to play with her. The food was decent, if not terribly interesting, though they did have the weird cheese dish that everyone says you must try. I couldn’t face it.
Our first day we spent visiting some museums, cultural sites, and temples. On the second day, we attempted the famous Tiger’s Nest trail. OMG. There are a lot of stairs. If you’re of a smaller-than-average-American size, you can take a mule/donkey ride half way up to the view point. I recommend it, especially if you’re coming from sea level. If you have a chance to acclimate before the trek, it’s lovely. For me, it was rather challenging. (I didn’t know that I was coming down with the flu either). Neko spent most of the uphill bits complaining, and we had some interesting experiences changing and feeding her along the very busy trail. We all rested at the viewpoint before having lunch and returning to the valley floor. So, no, we didn’t make it all the way to the Tiger’s Nest.
That night, I started feeling poorly and by the time that Mr Adventure was up, I thought I was going to die. (You know how it is when you’re sick….) The influenza got me, even though I’d had my shot. I piteously requested to go to the hospital NOW, and we eventually got there. I had the slowest IV drip ever (1 liter in something like 7 hours?), and it took forever for me to feel better. Mysterious injections, pills, etc… and a series of doctors who came to look. One diagnosed me with the common cold. Er… who has ever had a severe fever, bone aches, etc. from a cold? Anyway, they were all friendly too, even if relief from the dehydration and pain was slow in coming. The staff also really wanted to spend the day playing with Neko, so she enjoyed herself meeting all her new friends.
Our visit to the hospital meant that we missed Thimpu, the capital. We did get to do a little shopping and picked up a temple decoration for Neko’s future room. It’s very brightly colored, and hangs from the ceiling like a valance.
Would I go again? Er… it’s really pretty, but I’m not sure it’s worth the price. The visa fee isn’t as bad as the cost of the flight. 45 minutes in the air at a rate of almost $20 per minute. Kinda steep (lol).
It was a calm and pleasant respite from Dhaka, and something unusual, for sure. It was also good practice for traveling with Neko. She was a trouper and lived up to her reputation as a people lover. Right now, everyone is her friend. She’d rather be at a party than anywhere else. Bhutan was perfect for that.