I'm sitting in Paro airport and there's wifi up in this joint, so my first email blog about Kathmandu has just gone (its a week old)! I'm sad to leave Bhutan. I can't say its a country of contrasts but it is at odds with everything else I've experienced in life, and every other country I've travelled to. In so many ways its stuck in the past, but its a very appealing past anyone would want to be stuck in. I've made some friends here. Our guide Thinley and I will stay in touch I think - he's 25 and works as a guide in his hols from Uni in India (where he works part time in a call centre). Its amazing how genuinely lovely the people are here. I didn't feel under threat at all like in South America, and the guys were all so polite and sweet and I don't think exploitation crossed their mind in they way it does when travelling in North Africa. There's a good natured cheeky happy humour about everyone, even the monks if u give it a chance to be seen. I've hugely enjoyed making friends here. I've tried to have a chat with some monks at every temple we've been to, even if that chat just consists of laughter, hello, and hide n seek. I'm not sure Bhutan has many tourists in their 20's. And it certainly does have a lot of camera happy tourists - but with scenery like this, its to be expected. Yesterday whilst watching the archery in Paro we met a Prince of Bhutan. 1st cousin of the King. He was just competing in the archery tournament and hanging out (his team lost). He chatted to Tessa and told her he had tea with the Queen at Buckingham Palace 4 years ago. He asked her if we liked the country and Tessa was hugely enthusiastic, without realising she was talking to a Prince. (We told her afterwards)
I don't know how long Bhutan is going to be able to strike a balance between tourist income and western culture, whilst keeping their own values. I really hope the people can stay as warm and innocent and un-jaded as they are though. Because although Bhutan is a truly beautiful country its the beauty and spirit of the people that's the true magic and I really hope our cynical western ways don't damage this little paradise too much.
I hope Thinley and I will stay friends. I'm sure we will. And I will stay in touch with Nobru who worked in the gift shop, and last night gave me a present! So sweet!
Anyway, here I am at Paro airport saying goodbye to Bhutan! And Bhutan's last little present? Some wifi so I can tell you how lovely Bhutan is!
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device