Dutchy in Cornwall and the Bhutan stories (3)


… So, bye bye Delhi! Off we went, in our plane from the Royal Bhutan Airlines, en route to Bhutan. On our way we passed the Himalaya mountains. The pilot alerted us to the peaks of Mount Kailash and of course the Mount Everest. Stunning views.

Now Kate and I knew beforehand that Paro International Airport is considered to be the most difficult and challenging international airport in the world. Because, approaching the destination, the plane slaloms along the valley, with the mountainsides almost within touching distance, and then the plane makes a last turn on its wing-tip only seconds before touchdown. A scary story.

To be honest, I didn’t notice anything of these engrossing manoeuvres. We just landed, that’s all. Plane on the ground, seat-belts lights switched off, we took our hand luggage, and moved towards the exit. Stewardesses smiled pleasantly, like they always do, and then, unsuspecting, we were confronted with this amazing Bhutanese welcome…

Because, we descended the ramp and found ourselves in the middle of a huge plaza, the airfield. Basking in sunlight. Not a single breeze. A pleasant silence. No airfield security chaps to move us around, no markers to direct us anywhere, no fences or straps. We were free to stroll around. To gaze at the high green mountains around us. To take pictures. To pause. I imagine you could even get back into the plane and have a nap and no one would be bothered. At the side of the field a few Customs buildings. Slowly and relaxed we walked in and handed over our passports. And thereafter we were admitted into the country of Bhutan. After all the hassle of Delhi this scenery felt like a dream.

Outdoors we were welcomed by a girl from the Travel Agency. A car was waiting for us. Kate and I sat in the back, gazing through our windows, taking in the awesome landscape. The forests, peaks and rocks, occasionally a few houses. Ha! Look at us, on our way to our first lodging in Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan! Our hotel was situated at the foot of the central market square. We had reached our destination.

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