"When the dawn breaks, the world smiles with happiness and joy."-Bhutanese Proverb from The Bhutanese Guide to Happiness
Happy Friday, all. Any plans? We're looking forward to our first post-adventure weekend at home. So where did we go? There were some good guesses - Bali, India - but The Buzz Blog girls got it right:
We explored Bhutan, the Kingdom in the Clouds.
Bhutan is a small country in the Himalayas (about the size of Indiana) bordered by India and China. I think I mentioned that when I married Mr. H. I definitely married adventure - he's been wanting to go since he trekked in Nepal about 20 years ago. As long as I can count on a comfortable bed, I'm typically game...
So off we went. And it was amazing. A fascinating place of red-robed monks, fortresses and temples dating back to medieval times, of twisting mountain passes and peaceful valleys. Bhutan first opened to tourists in 1974 and still limits the number of visitors it accepts each year. A guide is required for travelers to this country of just 700,000 people, where the first road was built in 1962 and there are still no traffic lights.
Bhutan is one of the world's newest democracies - in 2005 the King surprised his people by abdicating the throne to his son and declaring that the country's first national elections would be held in 2008.
Embracing modernity while preserving Bhutanese culture and traditions is challenging, and signs of rapid urbanization were everywhere, from the scads of apartment blocks being built near the capitol city of Thimphu, to the monk who had to hang up his mobile before blessing our journey, to Miley Cirus on our driver's M3P player, the world definitely has found its way to Bhutan.
The idea of Gross National Happiness, introduced by the 4th King in 1972, stems from the belief that economic development shouldn't be the only measure of progress. Happiness can be seen in cultural connectedness, a sense of community and national belonging, a feeling of being well-governed. The current Prime Minister has said his focus is reducing the obstacles to happiness. More here.
Bhutan has been called a "ray of hope" in South Asia, but happiness is a complex subject. It will be interesting to see what changes in next five years for this young democracy. I'd love to go back and see.
What do you think about the idea of measuring Gross National Happiness?
Hope you find some of your own happiness this weekend. XO