Do you know which country has this beautiful symbol as the national flag?
Very fortunately, I had a chance to travel to the most isolated and exotic country,Bhutan with my close friend! Her strong eagerness to Bhutan made possible this vist. She had known what she wanted to do, but to me, honestly, I had no know idea what my stay would be. Just I bought a “Chikuno-aruki-kata” (popular guide book for Japanese travelers) and jump to airplane….
Bhutanis a unique blend of the old and new. The country is slowly opening up to the modern worlds in a fine balance with its ancient traditions. And the spiritual land is the last bastion of the Vajrayanaschoolof Mahayana Buddhism which provides the essence of a unique identity of Bhutanese citizen. I think these aspects fascinate many foreigners. By staying there for thee days, we could find many common parts and something particular forBhutan.
Travel system in Bhutan was unique. While staying there, local travel agency operated all program. It provided one frequent Japanese speaking Bhutanese tour guide and one driver with four-wheel drive. They are professional with perfect interpretation, safe drive and kindness, which was one of key factors for success of our trip !
But, schedule is pretty flexible. Until reaching places, we did not expect what program looked like.
For example, “Farmers house visit”. I thought we just entered the farm house and observed how famers lived. But actually, a specific host farm family welcomed us kindly and provided typical foods for Bhutanese lunch. All foods were so delicious, particularly, I liked spicy “ Emadati” (Chilly with cheese) very much. I clearly remembered that son’s astonishing face when I had three bowls of rice and side dishes more ! I guessed that he had never seen such a Asian woman eating too much !
After lunch, we were asked to try “Bhutanese Bath” outside. As Japanese, I was not surprised to take a bath outside like “Rotenburo” (outside hot spring) as long as it is attached to a main building and surrounded by fences.
But, beyond my expectation, mother brought me to their paddy fields next to a river. And then, I found how Bhutanese open bath looked like… She prepared burning stones for many house and put it water in the tab for heating. It looks fine but……fences looked too short, not enough to me…. Basically, inJapanwe have custom to enjoy “Onsen” (public hot spring) with completely naked(of course, separate sections for women and men). So, I did not mind if it was informed before for ready.
But it came suddenly ! At first, I was hesitating a bit but I decided to try because this may be my first and last chance to try Bhutanese open bath practice in my life ! Thanks God, it was as so nice experience to soak in scaling wooden bath water by looking up at the blue sky !!!!!
After I became “more” beautiful thanks to Bhutanese Onsen, mother helped to put on a national dress for women, “Kira”. It is well designed with excellent quality and comfortable. And soon, we were called outside and enjoyed playing archery.
Thank you very much for our host family, Dorji-san and Karuma-san. I really think what you called “farm visit” is not just visit but “farm stay practice !!!” So from the next schedule, you can say, “Nouka taiken” in Japanese – T -