Woke at 2 am for the 5 am Druk Air flight from Delhi to Paro, Bhutan. That's early and a good reminder that travel can be unpleasant sometimes. The flight itself was lovely, and though Mt Everest was overcast (I was imagining terrible storms) I still got my first glimpse of the Himalayas (Bucket list item, checked).
Unfortunately the weather is not cooperating but regardless it's been a fantastic first day. First thing that hits you is the reigning silence and cleanliness of the whole place. The air is delicious, even in town. I think I heard one horn all day. Wonderful. Cold though - I packed for tropics and deserts, oops.
Our guide picked us up and we headed straight for the museum and Paro Dzong (the monastery where they filmed parts of the movie Little Buddha), followed by a visit to a much smaller temple, and finally our hotel. There are apparently other tourists here but the only places I've seen them are in the airport and at the hotel. What a contrast and a relief after India. Bhutan has rather strict controls on tourism. First off its expensive, backpackers are categorically not allowed, all tourists must come through a tour group and use a local guiding group, you must either fly in or fly out, not simple border crossing here, and you must spend a minimum amount per day (that gets you a hotel and guide) of around $350 dollars. The return on investment? So far being a tourist here feels very personal, like you booked the whole country just for yourself. The highlight was a solo wander with our very well informed guide inside the inner rings and upper floors of a small Bhutanese stuppa. Just us, a lot of butter candles, fantastical wall paintings. No pictures of that, though. Which is frankly a good idea, let holy places be holy.