Eversince we returned from Bhutan, we have been asked by a number of people if we would recommend Bhutan as a holiday destination.
I get the sense that many people I know associate Bhutan with “the so-romantic wedding of Tony Leung and Carina Lau” because the next question (after the one asking about the place being a good holiday destination) that I inevitably get is: “So did you stay in the hotel where Tony Leung and Carina Lau held their wedding?”
Or if someone gives me the ‘Huh-Bhutan-is-where’ look when they hear that we have just returned from Bhutan, all I have to say is “You know, the kingdom where Tony Leung and Carina Lau went to get married…?” and bingo, you immediately see the light in their eyes.
Well, yes, we did stay at the Tony-Carina-Got-Married hotel – the Uma Paro. We loved the hotel for its charming Bhutanese architecture and idyllic, peaceful, and calming ambience. By the way, all buildings in Bhutan have to be constructed using traditional Bhutanese designs and architecture otherwise the owners will suffer the government’s wrath.
But what is best about the hotel is not the interior but the exterior – it is surrounded by beautiful pine trees that guests can enjoy from the window of their room or by taking a stroll around the estate. I could spend all day wandering around the estate drinking tea, picking pine cones, watching birds and taking archery lessons (which unfortunately, I didn’t have the time for). If only.
The dining room in Uma Paro is my favourite place in the hotel because of its unique circular design, beautiful wooden beams and the expansive view of the surrounding pine trees. But due to our tight schedule, we hardly had time to enjoy the hotel. Pity.
Back to the question of whether we would recommend Bhutan as a holiday destination. Definitely. Although to be honest, I don’t think Bhutan is everyone’s cup of tea. I feel that Bhutan will be a great destination for mainly 3 types of people: (1) those who love nature and rugged mountainous landscapes; (2) avid trekkers or mountain bikers; and (3) very serious bird-watchers.
Bhutan is very rustic and the people live off the land that they till. There are hardly any modern facilities such as shopping malls, restaurants or cafes. No Starbucks. No McDonalds. No winebars. There are cinemas in Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan, which screen Hindu movies and nothing else. So it can be quite challenging for people who need some form of modern-day entertainment such as shopping.
According to our guide, watching Bhutan Idol on television is something that the Bhutanese is very fond of. But seriously, most of the Bhutanese men I have seen have Idol-like looks.
Men in skirts. Dishy!