Better Bhutan

An Unforgettable Experience

Punakha Dzong

I wanted to visit Bhutan for quite some time; for me it was a combination of mystique adventure, mountains, monasteries, Asian food and some Swiss guesthouse somewhere in the middle of Bhutan. (I am originally Swiss). Nor me nor my partner did prepare a lot with regard to this trip, we just told Better Bhutan that we wanted an interesting and varied trip, but the Swiss Restaurant and Tiger's Nest had to be included.

The travel actually started quite badly: First of all the Bhutanese Immigration Office made a small error regarding my passport number on their own visa list which lead to all kind of discussion at the check in at Kathmandu airport and the immigration desk in Paro, secondly Bhutan Air had sold our seats twice! However finally it all worked out well.

From the moment Better Bhutan took over there were no more problems. Our tour guide was Lhendup who spoke English very well and the driver was Kinley who did not, but still was super friendly in his own way.

On the first day everybody was kind of quiet, but from day 2 we all felt very familiar--Lhendup and Kinley on the front seats were chatting in Bhutanese and whenever there was something interesting to see or we wanted to know something, Lhendup would communicate with us nicely. We also told him that we like spicy food and that we loved to mix with local people. So from that moment on we always would get a separate plate of local chilies with lunch and dinner; this because the Restaurants know that the average foreigner does not like their spicy food. Also, we were able to mix with locals: we went shopping in local shops on our own, we bought and tasted the food which local women sold outside the temple (momos and spicy noodles), we ate our hot hotel lunch at a local house of a friend of Lhendup (the food was traveling by car whilst we were hiking), we were having butter tea and arak on about three occasions in farm houses or temples and I even managed to get a local haircut in Thimphu for US$1!

With regard to the Swiss Guesthouse in Bumthang we not only could get our requested Swiss Cheese Fondue, but Better Bhutan had actually invited the famous Fritz Maurer for the dinner. This meant we could spend three hours dining in his place and chatting in Swiss Germanůso now we know how much he has done for Bhutan. A few days later, much to our surprise, Better Bhutan had arranged lunch in his son's Swiss Restaurant in Thimphu, and we got really nice Swiss food (Zurcher Geschnetzeltes with Rosti and amongst others a really great salad), which even in Switzerland is expensive--and all included in our fixed price.

We also noticed that if there were standard rooms and more luxury possibilities in hotels, we would seldom end up in standard rooms; either we had a great view, or we had a big terraces, or we even had kind of a suite or part of a bungalow.

So our time really flew away and we were kind of sad when - on the last day - we were dropped at the Paro airport at 07:00. We really got attached to our guide and the driver and we were sad when we saw them driving away. Anyway a great trip which I and my partner would not have wanted to miss out.

The Two Peters
Retired in Amsterdam

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