Bhutan: Birds, Buddhism and Byways

Bhutan: Birds, Buddhism and Byways

An expanded version of this is on the birding page.


The Author

Bhutan is one of those mysterious countries that has drawn my interest for years. Isolated and self-sufficient, it is located between two giants, India and China. How did it maintain its seemingly peaceful existence against pressures to trade, to modernize and to engage in the global melee that has destroy so many other countries?

My excuse was a birding trip that promised exotic endemics found only in the high mountains. What I discovered among the birds were people happy with their lives and in the midst of change not all welcomed. The forethought of the king was a surprise. So much of the natural attractions, plants and animals, were protected and carefully harvested to benefit the people. Judicious trade has strengthened their ability to resist unwelcome incursions.

Because we spent so much time walking along the lightly trafficked roads, I became fascinated with the process of road building. We saw every phase and I marvelled how many hands can construct such impressive passages in country so rugged.

As one who lives on the west coast of the US, where a structure of one hundred years is considered old, I was in awe of the dzongs, most of which were built when our country was just being settled. So many questions arise when I am in the presence of customs and rituals that have been practiced for hundreds of years.