Saturday, March 05, 2005


I am in the Bangkok airport, thinking about making use of a "day room" to take a nap. My flight does not leave for several more hours. I had thought of going into the city, but decided that the terrible traffic would make it not worthwhile.

The flight here involved another stop in Calcutta, but we were not let off the plane. Druk does not fly direct. I am beginning to enjoy the oddities of air travel out here though, the innumerable stamps and tickets and receipts that one accumulates for security check, customs check, airport tax, visa fee, etc. etc.

I was thinking about opening a theme park with an "international air travel experience" where you would stand in line and have your documents checked, and get interesting stamps in your passport and boarding pass and baggage tags.

Perhaps not too many people would really enjoy it though.

Driving to the Paro airport I was impressed with the amount of arable land the Bhutanese sacrificed for the airstrip. The Paro valley is U-shaped, like the one in Gangtey, whilst Thimphu, like much of the rest of Bhutan, is V-shaped. The Bhutanese work very hard to terrace the hills to eke out some more land.

Yesterday after blogging from the Rainbow Tours office we were able to get to the one last thing I wanted to see in Bhutan: archery. The national sport. We went to an archery range that had targets on either end, and disturbingly small backstops, especially since the targets were 130 meters apart! The archers were all using fancy composite bows imported from the US, and were able to hit the targets, or at least come very close. I was impressed.

After dinner we tried to find a place to go out, but Paro closes early, even on the weekend. We wound up at a bar with live music, albeit a bit odd. The singer/drummer and drummer/guitarist were both wearing Gho, the national dress. I hope noone will be offended if I say that Gho look a bit like bathrobes with large cuffs. The drum set was a Roland electronic gizmo. The guitar was real. I could not tell if the singer was using a gadget to process the vocals, or was singing falsetto. The evening became even more surreal when a rather drunk young Bhutanese fellow who had pulled down the top of his Gho began dancing around with what looked like a bunch of wilting weeds in his hand.

A fight did not start when his friends dragged him away, although I thought one was about to.


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