“In a moment we will begin our descent into Paro International Airport,” the Indian pilot of our Druk Air flight from Bangkok announced over the intercom. “Please do not be alarmed as we fly very close to the terrain.” I knew then that my visit to Bhutan would be full of thrills, beautiful scenery, and insights into a new (for me) and interesting culture. Actually, as we turned low and gracefully followed our path through the hills surrounding Paro I was more concerned about the take-off coming in another two weeks.
Bhutan is a Buddhist country, never colonized by a foreign power. Wedged between India and the Himalayas, it has a reputation for being the least corrupt country in Asia, and the easiest in which to do business. In a 1979 interview with a British journalist the former king said “Gross National Happiness is more important than Gross National Product.” This philosophy, combined with Buddhist teachings that encourage people to concentrate more on what they have rather than on what they lack, has produced a welcoming country working hard to preserve its traditional culture and to protect its environment. These images only hint at the many pleasant experiences any visitor is likely to have. And our take-off was flawless.