I'm back from my holiday..and it was an AMAZING PLACE! No, I did not go on my honeymoon :P, I'm not married. However, I think that this country is a fantastic place for you lovebirds to go on a honeymoon, or holiday together!
Land of the Thunder Dragon
above: The view of Tiger's Nest (Tatkshang), after a 5km trek to 900m above ground level
Ok, I can hear the questions now. Where's IS Bhutan? Who are the people there? Is it part of another country? Can they speak English?
The Kingdom of Bhutan is a small country in the Eastern region of the Himalayas, it's neighbours are China, Tibet and India. There are about 700,000 Bhutanese people inhabiting this land. Their National language is Dzongkha, which is very similar to Tibetian, but almost everyone speaks English (and I dare say, some speak better English than Singaporeans :P). They also speak Hindi & Nepali, if you were thinking of flexing your language skills too!
They have four seasons and it's always a great time to go, although they do say that spring is best because of the blooming flowers (I say it could rival those korean travel brochures!), and winter, for the clear skies and visibility (You can see the tips of the Himalayas!)
above: At the Dochu-la pass on a cloudy autumn day. During Winter you can see the right to the tips of the Himalayas.
What's there to do in Bhutan?
For starters, there's always a monastry or temple located right down whichever street you're on.
Your journey can begin in Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. Spoil yourself and check into the majestic Taj Tashi Hotel to begin your romantic honeymoon and enjoy a local Hot Stone Bath or Indian Ayurvedic Massage.
Each of the major cities has a Dzong, a monastry fortress built to keep out Tibetian invaders, which will have a large courtyard for festivals, a monastry for the clergy and other blocks for administration.
above: Tashichhoedzong, and the Thimphu Tshechu Festival
Head down to the 12th Century Changgang Kha (Goddess of Compassion) Temple where it has been said that you make it in, you can make any wish and it will come true. Look for the dice once you enter the inner sanctum, make a wish, roll the dice, and there will be a monk who will tell you if your wish is good and if it will come true.
Although the hours of driving from town to town can get long, there are always interesting sights along the way. Roadside stands are set up selling local produce - always fresh, organic and grown in the wild, or roasted corn, yak cheese and other snacks.
Driving through the mountains will give you peeks of waterfalls, valleys, streams, farms, paddy fields and monastries set against dramatic backdrops of rich blue skies.
above: 108 Stupas built at the Dochu-la pass. The road runs from the current capital Thimphu to the ancient capital city of Punakha
Punakha is the winter home for the Monk body as it is at a slightly lower altitude and set in a warmer valley. Here, the Dzong is romantically set in between two rivers, the Male river & Female river.
Inside the monastry, the floor to ceiling paintings of Buddhist teachings, philisophies and stories, and statues of Guru Rinpoche and Buddha will completely blow your away with their details and colours, painstakingly restored and maintained.
above: Share a quiet moment in the Punakha Dzong under the Bodhi tree
above: The Punakha Dzong and the Moochu (female) River. I don't have any pictures within the monastries as photography is forbidden inside.
A town that you must not miss is the city of Paro (also where the airport is located at). It is also here where the world famous Tiger's Nest sits, right at the top of a cliff, 900m above ground level.
The Tiger's Nest monastry is built over a cave where Guru Rinpoche was said to have meditated for three months, when he flew (rode) into Paro on the back of a Tiger.
There are also little houses built right on the top of the cliff, where you can stay for three months to meditate.
Well, but for the rest of us, and for honeymooners, a stay at the Uma- Inland Retreats would be much more comfortable. Guess what? Tony Leung (hearts!) & Carina Lau had their wedding right at this resort! If it's good enough for them, it sure is good enough for us!
above: the start of the trek. see the little speck of white up there? that's where we are going! To the Tiger's Nest!
above: The view when you reach the top is worth the hard climb
I promise you, you'll fall in love all over again when you're in a place as beautiful as Bhutan, and not just with your partner, but in love with nature, religion, culture, and life.
And as for me, I know I'm going back again there someday soon :)
To Sonam from Bhutan Nor Ter Adventures, www.bhutanpeaceful.com
He's like a walking Bhutan history book, with tons of local information and a knack for outdoorsy activities like trekking, biking (KTM! or Mountain bikes) or just bringing you to the best spots you'll ever be at.
Get in touch with him if you'll like a customised tour across Bhutan or even India & Nepal