Bhutan, the Last Day

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Dressed in Formal Bhutanese Dress

It’s hard to contemplate leaving Bhutan. This isn’t the kind of place you say, “We?ll be back next year.” We’d be fooling ourselves to think it was that easy. Yet, there is something here indefinably rich, attractive, and even compelling. I want to return next year, and I don’t know for sure, if I’ll ever be back. You don’t just go online and buy an airline ticket and show up. It’s perhaps the most complicated country on Earth to visit, as well as the most expensive. Yet, I think I will be back, soon. I don’t know what I have to offer Bhutan, but I want to contribute something, as well as absorb something. Continue reading “Bhutan, the Last Day”

Bhutan’s Saint’s Birthday Celebration

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Gyem & David

One of the gifts of today was being allowed to attend a ceremony for the birthday of the patron Saint/Buddha of Bhutan. This yearly event was celebrated, in part, by twenty hours of chanting by the senior monks at an ancient monastery. The deep, deep sound of the chant came from years of training the vocal cords to vibrate unusually slowly. The chant continued as we walked into the sacred chamber. The sound of sixty voices chanting and occasional notes of the long Tibetan horns, drums and other medieval instruments, filled the room. Continue reading “Bhutan’s Saint’s Birthday Celebration”

Lodoe, the Bhutanese Monk

The waiter at our boutique hotel stood out from our first interaction. My first thought was that he was trained in a 5-star hotel in the West. His demeanor was warm, but with some reserve. His service was perfect, and timing impeccable. The more I watched him, the more I could see a level of serenity I rarely experienced in anyone, a serenity that comes from extensive spiritual training. It was his monk-like presence and flowing movements that touched us all. Continue reading “Lodoe, the Bhutanese Monk”

Bhutan, the First Hour

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Bhutanese Monks

There’s only one “first hour” when you enter a new world. My first hour of being in Bhutan is one of wonder; the wonder of the Himalayan air, the warm, direct greeting of the people and my first taste of true spring in years. The impression of gentleness came next; gentle people, and the gentle clean vibration in the air. Beauty is the third impression, beauty of nature and the people. We were warmly welcomed in the courtyard of a manor house turned inn where we were staying, by the family who owned this property for dozens of generations. The forsythia, daffodils and camellias were all in full bloom. The view to the south was of a 17th century fortress across a wide valley of just-planted rice fields, with the high Himalayas visible to the north. The sun was warm for early spring, the birds were singing and I was at peace, suddenly, exquisitely, and completely at peace. Continue reading “Bhutan, the First Hour”

Gyem

Gyem Dorgi, our Bhutanese guide and devoted Buddhist practitioner, became a friend and trusted companion in the two weeks we were with him. One of my favorite memories of Gyem, is him dressing me in a “Gho,” the traditional Bhutanese man’s outfit, which he wore every day with ease and grace. In the late afternoon of our second day in Bhutan we walked to his favorite (locals only) Gho shop, just down the street from his wife’s kitchen utensil and appliance store. I pawed my way through dozens of one-size-fits-all Ghos, until I found a formal, finely woven, all black, woolen Gho, with a sky blue lining and deep red border. After we picked out the removable, nine inch white cuffs, theoptional white collar, a multicolored hand woven belt, and black socks, I carried my 12 pound bundle of clothes back to the hotel for the first of three training sessions with Gyem. He approached these training sessions with the same patience, grace, compassion, love, and humor with which he approached everything in life. Continue reading “Gyem”