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  • hardie karges 12:10 pm on June 25, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Bhutan, , Kangding, Kham, Qinghai, Shangrila, , ,   

    Dinner in China: Part III, Tibet on the Cheap… 

    20180618_141518Kangding is a revelation, that such an integral part of Tibet is so accessible, so unique, so easy, and all at reasonable prices! Now that the ‘official’ Tibet—aka Xizang—is so off-limits (again), available only on guided tours, for whatever reason (for their own protection, no doubt), this western part of Sichuan province and Qinghai are the next best thing, or maybe even better. The historical region known as Kham, Dalai Lamas have come from here, so it’s still the real thing…

    And admittedly I wasn’t expecting much, since Kangding is probably a majority Han Chinese town—uh, make that city—but that’s okay, too, as all the modern conveniences are here, so not exactly roughing it in the outback (though that can be done nearby). Best part: it’s only a five-hour bus ride from Chengdu, and less every day, as roads improve with blinding speed… (More …)

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  • hardie karges 12:15 am on October 3, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Bhutan, shoes, ,   

    Shoes East vs. West: Speaking of Brown Loafers… 

    img_0682As we all know, the world is divided into shoe cultures and flip-flop cultures, most of the latter cultures where shoes must be removed before entering a house, and especially a temple, for religious and cultural reasons. This includes Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam, and countries from northern Africa to the Far East.

    img_0891Of course, sometimes this happens so many times in the course of a day, that it really is efficient time-wise to ditch the frills and laces, and just go shoe-less, hence flip-flops. There is another option, of course. Remember those penny loafers from the days of ‘Penny Lane’? They’ll pass for manly footwear as well as for Buddhism. That’s what they use in Bhutan. I think I’ll invest in some stock. I can see a bright future in loafing…

     
  • hardie karges 11:02 pm on September 6, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Bhutan, , ,   

    Bhutan, part 2: Hermit Kingdom, Magic Mountain, Betel Juice… 

    img_0655

    continued from previous…

    I didn’t know if I would make it, frankly, up to the Tiger’s Nest, then we beat them all in record time. Local Boy Scouts and fuster-clucking Indians only crowd the path and slow us down. Now I like temples and such, but I was already disappointed that the proposed first day’s itinerary of ‘looking around the city’ had been changed. Maybe there was no real city. Welcome to America…

    So I finally had to pointedly hint that IT’D BE REALLY NICE TO GET A LOOK AT THE CITY—the capital, Thimpu—after we’d spent a full day of avoiding it and driving circles around it, such that I’d almost decided that it didn’t really exist. But there it is, and it’s a cute one, with no traffic lights, but at least one traffic cop doing the honors at the city’s main intersection. And there’s a market, and a bus terminal, all the things of real life. I got the distinct feeling that they don’t usually show such things, for whatever reason, likely the filth and grime of a Third World city… (More …)

     
    • davekingsbury 2:20 pm on September 8, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Interesting piece. One question – isn’t your status in the present life the retribution for past life sins, or have I misread it?

    • hardie karges 8:48 pm on September 8, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      That would seem to be a correct reading of the Tibetan Buddhist position, but I have numerous problems with that conclusion. To pose the question in the same way that shocked me: If a young girl is raped, is it her fault, from past lives, or the rapist’s?

    • Bhutan Travel Tour 7:40 pm on September 11, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Hi, Hardie.

      I happened upon your post quite by accident and it was an interesting read though I do have a few comments.

      The only thing we have similar to North Korea is the absence of traffic lights, or so I heard. No short Asian guy with a narcissist attitude who believes himself God and loves intimidating his neighbours with nuclear weapons here. 🙂

      Regarding guides, hey, you can go on your own. You wouldn’t really know where to go, what to see, where or what to eat, and at the high tariff that the government imposes you wouldn’t want to waste any time now, would you?

      Regarding religion, yes, most Bhutanese would be very Buddhist but on blind faith without pondering on the various ‘deep’ philosophies that the religion does have. Most Bhutanese do know what denomination they belong to- Nyingma or Drukpa Kargyug- but do not know what the difference is, for example, let alone know about what Gelug, Karmapa etc. or Vajrayana, Hinayana are about.

      Rituals may have had a reason once, now they are just done blindly. There are some who go deep into the philosophies, such as karma. On my part, I have heard lamas saying this when someone dies early young “He/she was just completing the years that in his previous life he/she could not complete.”

      One thing accepted here but would not be accepted in the western world is “a woman is 7 lifetimes inferior to a man”. “Someone born a woman must have done something not good for the karma.”

      If you do come again, we could meet and discuss these things first hand. it’d be interesting 🙂

      Best regards and Trashi Delek,
      Keshav of http://www.bhutanrebirth.com

      • hardie karges 10:21 pm on September 11, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        If I could travel on my own, then that would be a different story, no problem figuring out where to go, haha…

  • hardie karges 8:39 am on September 4, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Bhutan, , , ,   

    BHUTAN: No Problem in Little Tibet… 

    IMG_0591…once you pony up, that is, and then you’ll be handled and kept, with your own driver and guide, even if there’s only one in your group. You gotta’ hand it to Bhutan, for successfully marketing its brand. After all, how many countries can charge every tourist $250 a day, with the only airline charging overpriced flights, declaring Gross National Happiness the goal of life, and fill those same flights from full to overflowing, even if only turbo-prop baby Fokkers from Nepal? Druk Air flies you back in time…

    In the latter half of the last century the previously self-sufficient Himalayan kingdoms saw the writing on the wall: the world is changing, and they need to change with it. Tibet was lost to China forever for no greater crime than simply being there and being itself. Sikkim gave herself over to India, for lack of a better plan. And Nepal opened the door to every Harry, Dick and Tom with a stiffie and a spare dollar for a bottle of Boone’s Farm… (More …)

     
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