We have now arrived in the Kingdom of the Thunder Dragon and luckily for us the Dragon must have been looking the other way on our approach to Paro airport as it was pretty smooth the whole way. The last 15 minutes or so were amazing with snow covered peaks jutting majestically out of the clouds and then mountains either side of us as we zoomed down the valley getting lower and lower and closer to the airport. We could clearly see the settlements on the ground, the bare paddy fields, the meandering tracks, the river and streams, the trees and finally the town of Paro and the International Airport. It was a bit like landing at the old Hong Kong airport but instead of flying between apartment buildings we were shooting past pine trees and cypress trees and mountains and amazing Tibetan houses.
The entry formalities were a breeze, customs was mainly interested in finding out whether we were carrying any tobacco products! They x-rayed Vix bag but mine stayed on the trolley. We were met by one of the office staff, Karma, well before we had even gotten our bags off the belt. He is great, smiling and friendly and he seems to know everyone which may have helped us pass through customs so easily, he just told them we were all good!
We have checked in to the Dechen Hill Resort which is fabulous. After a short break we were taken to the National Museum of Bhutan which is a former watchtower. An amazing structure, a round freestone building with a labyrinth of rooms, corridors and quite possibly tunnels and secret doorways etc. There are great views to be had from it which makes sense as it was there to spot the invaders and other baddies before they could upset anything. The museum houses antiquities general and also has a great photographic section with some great old shots as well as some newer ones of the Royal Family and stuff.
Oh, I forgot lunch. We have now eaten (and survived) the national dish of chillies and cheese which is called 'ema datse'. Good tucker.
Yes it is cold, Karma said calmly that it must be minus 3 degrees when I asked him! The good news is that our place, Rangjung is pretty near tropical, even too hot for him in the summer!! He was there in January and has seen our prospective houses and today told us that there is another one to consider, the home of the past principal of Vix school who was recently transferred to another school. That place is in the compound of the school and he thinks that is good. We can check all of them out before we have to make a decision.
We are staying here in Paro until everyone gets here which should be Sunday then we are all off to the capital, Thimphu, where we will have our orientation for 2 weeks. We will all slowly buy the things we need to set up our new homes during that time. Karma suggests getting a rice cooker, gas stove, curry cooker (?), traditional garb, SIM cards for everyone's phones, and a thousand other sundry items.
In summary,we are happy to have arrived here and it seems fantastical, terribly Tibetan but with a strong dash of Indian thrown in.
Thailand may be called the Land of Smiles, but this is definitely the country of Happy Chappies.