The betel habit
Betel is a commonly-consumed (well, chewed) nut in Bhutan, as with a good portion of SE Asia. It is a hard nut containing a mild narcotic that is chewed with a pepper leaf (or other, depending on the region) and some lime (calcium carbonate, not the fruit). to help extract the chemicals from the nut. It gives a mild feeling to the mouth and can cause light-headedness or brief, low-level euphoria. It is a common occurrence in Bhutan (as evidenced by the frequent red stains on sidewalks and streets from people spitting), and you have an option of partaking. Infrequent consumption is not dangerous or toxic, and it is an interesting experience. Be warned: it stains. Your mouth and tongue will turn, briefly, bright orangish-red to red.Related to:
- Food and Dining
Savor the Flavors
Bhutan has a cuisine that is distinct for the country. If you are to enjoy Bhutan, trying the local flavors are, in my opinion, a must. Two things that Bhutanese have with nearly every meal is cheese and chiles. The "national dish" is known as ema datshi, a concoction of a melting cheese and dried chiles, and is found at virtually every meal you'll have in Bhutan, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. That's it. Spoon some over some of the local red rice, and keep a bottle of water handy!! Eventually you'll get used to it, and there are lots of other lovely dishes to try. Among them:
** Yewa datshi - a potato-cheese dish, similar I guess to scalloped potatoes for us Westerners.
** Momo - steamed dumplings filled with either vegetables, chicken, or pork.
** Fried chicken - pan-fried chicken (watch out for bones) with onions and a glaze.
The list goes on, but don't be afraid to venture out of your comfort zone and give them a try. You'll be pleasantly surprised.Related to:
- Food and Dining
In Bhutan, houses generally have 3 floors, and the last floor under the roof have no walls. People use this last floor for drying vegetable, hay etc. Traditional materials for building are wood, mud and bamboo. (Bamboo is also used as scaffolding for bigger structures.) The cattle and some other animals live in ground floor. Second floor is like a storage. Living area is the third floor. Traditional structures don't have nails. Almost all buildings have decorations painted on their walls, around the doors, etc. These decorations are generally originated from Buddhist culture.
I didn’t see how they made it but tea of Bhutan is similar to Turkish tea. As a tea addict, I prefer coffee in my travels, especially in Europe, because I couldn’t find tea as I like in my trips. But I drank and enjoyed the tea in Bhutan. If they learned to prepare it from Englishmen, then I can visit England without any concerns.
Tea was always ready at the moment we stepped in to a hotel and in breakfasts. It was bliss to see Bhutanese girls approaching us with huge tea pots after a long day. Without it, the trip could be more difficult.Related to:
- Food and Dining
I didn’t notice this one at first. Then our guide told us and I started to see them everywhere. There were lots of person chewing something and their mouths (teeth, lips, tongue) were all red. It is some kind of drug, I think. Our guide told us that it helped the altitude problems. But I’m not sure how people living in high altitudes have altitude problems.
They put the nut into some green, fresh leaves. Wrap the leaf and use a jam-like stuff to fix them together. I didn't try it but our guide told us that it was a painful experience. Her mouth had been frozen (I don't know how to describe this feeling in English).
This man is the reason of the "weird" decorations of houses in Bhutan.
Divine Madman was Drukpa Kunley (1455-1529) and he was a wise and religious man. But he was a little bit crazy and one day he came out in public all nude –except a ribbon on his organ- and preached about something. Since he was a very wise man, people decided to decorate their houses with a male organ for good luck. There are different versions about the story of the origin of this decoration but it is certain that he has a great charm over opposite sex.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
We saw people doing this sport but we were on the bus and couldn’t watch the games.
Archery is the national sport of Bhutan. Their bows and arrows are traditional, and their rules, too. They shoot 30x100cm targets from 120 meters distance. Each village has its archery range. According to an official information page, annual archery tournaments are held during Bhutanese New Year. So, the one I saw was one of the smaller competitions.
It is completely different from the archery sport we know, this is why they join the Olympic Games but don’t win a medal in archery. Teams consult to an astrologer before important games and teasing the opponents is a must during the game. Archers do not spend the night before tournament with their wives.
It is a team sport of 13 people with 2 reserves. You can read the rules and the history here.
I also read somewhere that women cannot touch the bow, but I couldn't find a source to verify it recently.
Eat some “ema datshi”
We had an amazing guide in this trip. She is great in relations and has many intimate friends in the countries we visited. In Bhutan, our local guides knew that she loves hemadatsi (or ema datshi, or emadatse) and in every meal, it was prepared and served especially for her. And we all tasted this delicacy. It is chilies in aged yak cheese sauce. So hot and so delicious. If you have the chance, I definitely recommend it.
Here, I found a recipe. But I I don’t remember any garlic or coriander in it and also there wasn’t any clue of tomatoes, either. This is the recipe I was looking for. Paro style, pure ema datshi is the one that I ate.Related to:
- Food and Dining
Facts of Bhutan
Government: Constitutional Monarchy
King: Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck
Language: Dzongkha (means "the language spoken in Dzongs")
Population: Around 750.000
Gross national income: $1200
Currency: Ngultrum ($1 ¡s 45 Ngultrum)
Area: 47.000 km2
New King officially crowned in 6 November 2008, right after our visit to Bhutan. He was born in 1980. His father, the former King, abdicated for his favour. He decided in 2005, but the priests calculated that 2008 is the best year for coronation. Young King graduated from Oxford. "He is the most eligible bachelor in Asia." says Wikipedia.
Since the original name of Bhutan is Drukyul (Land of the Thunder Dragon), and the name of its people Drukpa (Dragon people), rulers are Druk Gyalpo aka Dragon King.
(Sources: Wikipedia, some web pages about and from Bhutan, and the book given from Fest Travel)
The most important ingredient of “ema datshi” is pepper and Bhutanese people use it as both vegetable and spice. You can see roofs covered with pepper in autumn. When they dry under the sun, they will turn into chili. You can see many types of chili, if you visit a market. It is really important in Bhutanese cuisine. You can buy some here. I bought mine from Thimphu open market. If you forget it in your hand baggage, the security of the airport takes it and gives you a receipt for taking it back in arrival.Related to:
- Food and Dining
Shiny happy people
You are in a country which measures gross national happiness. Please, don’t wander around with long faces and blue mood here. You know the population, one person matters. Smile in Bhutan and raise the value of gross national happiness. You'll see the best smiles of the whole world here. You can even bring some home.
Do you think I’m joking? If yes, read this
Decorative religious paintings on housewalls
No, it is no cheap porn graffitti! It is a housewall decoration you can find everywhere in Bhutan - it is part of the religious belief! A Bhutanese explained it to me like this (if I got him right - I have to read some about it):
One scholar of Buddha went into a little different direction, emphasizing that through sex you find the enlightment! So he slept with many women to free their souls..... Sounds easier than meditation, doesnt it :-) Ok, no jokes about that.
That is what Ive been told. I have to check on that.
Turning and Turning
In mountains, people build this kind of constructions to host a praying wheel. When the creek comes down through it, it naturally brings the wheel turning, in a clockwise way...And the lection is carried away...
If you come to goverment...
If you come to goverment office, should be surprise of thier strick rules on the board.
You must wear formal dress when you visit to the office! You can't visit absolutry in sandle! then you should wear traditional choth 'KILA' for woman, 'Gou' for man usually in Bhutan. People said this is very hot in summer, even in fall, but can't brake the rule.(!?)
The bhutanese are quite...
The bhutanese are quite religious people so try to learn little about how to behave in their country. This in order to avoid insulting the people and their religion. People often had some special rooms in their houses were they used to pray. It was decorated with buddha statues etc. THE PHOTO: THE MEMORIAL CHORTEN IN THIMPHU, A PLACE WERE LOTS OF PEOPLE COME TO WORSHIP EVERY DAY.
Near Kuenga Chhoeling Palace Upper Motithang, Thimphu, Bhutan
Good for: Couples
I upgraded one night from the government hotels and was so glad I did. While the government hotels...more
I was there for a week last month. The hotel is 5* hotel in Thimpu. It is a joint venture project by...more
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