Richard and I arrived in Bhutan around noon today, after a fantastic flight from Bangkok. The full-sized plane suddenly descended from the brilliant sky into a narrow valley with a single runway--it seemed the wings would touch the steep mountains on either side. After clearing customs on our "official" passports, we were greeted at the airport by the Ministry of Education, and were offered khatas of greeting. On the hour's drive to Thimphu (the capital), it is evident that Bhutan is pristinely beautiful--forested with striking long-needled pines, crystal-clear rushing rivers, laced with paved and well-maintained roads. Richard and I marvelled at the difference from Nepal, the "evil twin" of Bhutan, where everything has been so devastated.
The gates of Thimphu were decorated with banners announcing the Educating for Gross National Happiness workshop, and the hotel where we are staying is buzzing with excitement. The delegates are arriving from everywhere--so far, we have counted eight or nine countries of origin. The meetings will be held in the marble meeting room in the basement, formally set up in square formation, the room decorated with traditional painted carvings and carefully arranged chairs. Richard and I were given a lovely corner room with a view of the surrounding mountains, and are delighted that there is actually heat in the room! As the sun is setting, the lobby where I'm sitting is getting colder and colder--no central heating, and in December, it gets quite chilly in the evenings!
Tomorrow morning we visit a nearby elementary school, and in the afternoon will have a chance to explore Thimphu a bit before the official opening dinner tomorrow night, hosted by the Education Minister. We are looking forward to a good night's sleep, and then the unfolding adventure! Thanks for joining us!