With preparations for the upcoming Royal Bhutan Flower Exhibition (RBFE) in full swing, Samdrupjongkhar thromde is filled with colours these days. The dzongkhag, thromde, regional officials and other stakeholders are all engaged for an exhibition, which is scheduled to open on February 21 coinciding with the birth anniversary of His Majesty The King. The theme for the […]
With preparations for the upcoming Royal Bhutan Flower Exhibition (RBFE) in full swing, Samdrupjongkhar thromde is filled with colours these days.
The dzongkhag, thromde, regional officials and other stakeholders are all engaged for an exhibition, which is scheduled to open on February 21 coinciding with the birth anniversary of His Majesty The King.
The theme for the fifth RBFE is ‘Clean and beautiful spaces’.
The thromde and volunteers have been preparing for the exhibition since June last year. The main exhibition will be held at the Tendrelthang.
The main plantation for the exhibition started on January 10 with the plantation of 1,710 saplings of plants and flowers around the town areas.
Since the areas in the town were allocated to the concerned stakeholders, they are taking care of the flowers. There are micro-gardens in strategic locations and also 15 macro gardens on 9.75 acres of land.
About eight nurseries have been set up in Samdrupjongkhar and flowers are mostly raised in those nurseries. Some flowers were collected locally while some purchased from private nurseries. There are over 100,000 different flowers and plants.
With the flower exhibition, shopkeepers and hoteliers in Samdrupjongkhar are hopeful for good business, as their businesses have not been doing well after the opening of Nganglam- Gyalpoizhing highway.
A hotelier, Neten Wangmo, said she has been running her business in loss because most customers from Mongar and Lhuntse directly travel to Phuentsholing via the Nganglam- Gyalpozhing highway. “I am thinking of giving up my lodge because there is no one to stay in but I hope my business would do well during the exhibition,” she said.
A resident, Karma Wangmo, 45, said she wanted to visit the first flower exhibition but could not, as it was difficult to travel with children. “I am happy that the exhibition is being held in Samdrupjongkhar. I will take all my family members to the exhibition.”
Tshewang Rinzin, 21, from Menchari in Orong gewog, said since the Menchari pottery group is new, they could not sell any pots. “We hope the business would do well as we will display the products and also demonstrate pottery during the exhibition.”
Meanwhile, Clean Bhutan collected more than 50 metric tons of waste from whole Samdrupjongkhar town areas and along the Dungsamchu. Volunteers from Red Cross, desuups, and students are involved in the cleaning campaign.
The executive director of Clean Bhutan, Nedup Tshering, said they started the cleaning campaign since the last week of January.
To commemorate the birth anniversary of His Majesty The King, taxi drivers in Samdrupjongkhar would provide free rides on February 21.
The executive member of Bhutan Taxi Association (BTA), Kelzang Jigme, 44, said they would give free transport service to people from Dewathang to Samdrupjongkhar and also local transportations if needed. “About 27 taxis have registered to date and we are hoping to register about 40 taxis for the service.”
He said that since the thromde has been engaged in preparation works, they decided to provide free transport service, as they could not take part in the preparation works.
It was learnt that Samdrupjongkhar was chosen for the exhibition in light of the historic and geographic importance of the border town, which serves as one of the gateways to the country.
The exhibition is expected to promote the local economy in floriculture and support small businesses.
The exhibition is free for Bhutanese while non-Bhutanese adults and students will be charged Nu 300 and Nu 50 each. Entry for non-Bhutanese children below five years is free.
Two of the busiest lanes near the Zangtopelri lhakhang in Phuentsholing, Goede Lam and Tharpei Lam, are closed for traffic giving residents and visitors to the busy town a breath of fresh air. The roads were closed for traffic since January 24. The move was considered after the new three-storied multicar parking was opened on […]
Two of the busiest lanes near the Zangtopelri lhakhang in Phuentsholing, Goede Lam and Tharpei Lam, are closed for traffic giving residents and visitors to the busy town a breath of fresh air.
The roads were closed for traffic since January 24. The move was considered after the new three-storied multicar parking was opened on January 11. About 150 parking spaces in the town were withheld and traffic markings were also erased to make them pedestrian lanes.
Phuentsholing thromde had announced vehicles would still be allowed about 10 minutes to load and unload. Children are making the best use of the open pace. On any given day, the two lanes are congested with the area being one of the busiest place in the town
Shop owners are saying the decision is affecting their business. At Goede Lam, the owner of Thukten General Shop said business was slow for the last two days.
“Usually, our clients don’t get parking space here,” she said, adding that it is a good move. “But nobody is coming now.”
The shopkeeper said many people would still not know of the changes, especially, the timings they are allowed to load their goods. Most of the clients are from villages and they don’t own private vehicles, she said, pointing taxis should be let in to drop and pick.
“As there are traffic cones to stop vehicles enter these lanes, most must have misunderstood,” she said.
At Tharpei Lam, the owner of Norzang Enterprises said the roads look clean without the vehicles. He said it was too early to say whether the business actually affected or not. People would feel the pinch after about a week’s time, he said.
Visitors are happy with the Thromde’s decision. “There should be a few places for people to walk freely,” said one. “Phuentsholing is so crowded. We need to pedestrianize some more roads to let shoppers enjoy.”
Another said that business would pick up and benefit in the long run as people would prefer walking in vehicle-free roads. “The business owners are panicking. The decision of the Thromde will benefit the general public and visitors.”
More 2,000 people gathered at the courtyard of Trashigang Dzong to witness the unfurling of Guru Rinpoche’s throngdrel on the third day of the annual tshechu. The four-day tshechu that began on November 15 will conclude today. Source: Kuensel
More 2,000 people gathered at the courtyard of Trashigang Dzong to witness the unfurling of Guru Rinpoche’s throngdrel on the third day of the annual tshechu. The four-day tshechu that began on November 15 will conclude today.
It was an experience for the three Japanese students who spent a week in the remote village of Shingkhar in Ura, Bumthang. Sarono Sugiyama, Yuka Miura and Hinata Sogabe, the three students from Konan University are used to the hustle and bustle of Okamato, Japan. Shingkhar, mesmerised the three young Japanese who claim that it […]
It was an experience for the three Japanese students who spent a week in the remote village of Shingkhar in Ura, Bumthang.
Sarono Sugiyama, Yuka Miura and Hinata Sogabe, the three students from Konan University are used to the hustle and bustle of Okamato, Japan. Shingkhar, mesmerised the three young Japanese who claim that it was a “lifetime opportunity” to explore happiness in its true essence.
“We have realised that materialistic wellbeing is not important. The religious outlook based on Buddhism is so strong and this could be the secret behind a happy Bhutan,” said Hinata Sogabe.
The students however found it quite unusual that people didn’t bathe everyday, like they did in Japan. “But they were very kind to arrange a hot stone bath for us,” Sarono Sugiyama said adding that in Japan people have to pay for everything.
A week away from their gadgets and networked world, the students said the trip gave them a chance to explore a completely different aspect of their lives. “There was strong vitality in the community to help each other and celebrate every moment,” Yuka Miura said.
What brought them to Shingkhar was a university programme led by their Professor K Masaki, who is not new to Bhutan.
He first came to Bhutan in 2004 through a JICA project and in 2006 he was the advisor to JICA on a local governance project in Bhutan. The professor is in close acquaintance with an informal association called the Shingkhar Dechenling Phendey Thuentshog. Since 2006, K Masaki has been visiting Shingkhar whenever he visits Bhutan.
He wanted to do something for the community and got the support of JICA and Konan University. He claims that this is the first JICA project that is a mini programme targeting 89 households and focused on one chiwog.
With a fund of Yen 10M (equivalent to Nu 6M) from JICA, the programme has revived a milk-processing unit, conserved two water mills and built a flood protection wall along a small stream.
K Masaki said the milk-processing unit was almost defunct and the structure was giving up. The project installed new equipment and renovated the structure.
The project has not only revived the cooperative but also trained five youth as a leader of the cooperative. These youth would be invited to Japan to master milk processing skills.
Except during the three winter months, each household provides about seven litres of milk to the processing unit. K Masaki said that each household is paid Nu 18 to Nu 20 a litre. This is being revised to Nu 35 a litre.
The bigger idea, he said is to bring students from Japan and make them experience rural Bhutan, which they have never experienced. “Every small gesture my students experienced is very special,” he said.
The three students, he said would be the guide to the future students visiting Shingkhar and they have been selected through an open competition among 30 students who applied.
The funding was proposed two years ago and the two and half year long project began in April this year. Except for the flood protection wall, the rest have been almost completed.
The outline of the project stated that it is in rural communities where people live in close touch with nature and their neighbours, and where better appreciation on spiritual and emotional wellbeing is being embraced.
It is against this background, K Masaki said the project in Singkhar is to assist people to enhance their incomes, and revitalise their collective activities, both of which constitute the mainstay of rural livelihoods. “Shingkhar will be an excellent model for other chiwogs, given its rich cultural and spiritual heritage,” he said.
The reconstruction work at Drukgyel dzong in Paro is 40 percent complete, according to the project officials. The work is estimated to complete by December 2022. The reconstruction works began in April 2016 after the command of His Majesty The King to celebrate the birth of His Royal Highness (HRH) The Gyalsey, to commemorate the […]
The reconstruction work at Drukgyel dzong in Paro is 40 percent complete, according to the project officials.
The work is estimated to complete by December 2022.
The reconstruction works began in April 2016 after the command of His Majesty The King to celebrate the birth of His Royal Highness (HRH) The Gyalsey, to commemorate the arrival of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel in the country in 1616 AD and the birth year of Guru Rinpoche.
Utse, which is the main part of the dzong, was inaugurated last year coinciding with the first birthday of the HRH The Gyalsey. Utse’s reconstruction started on August 26 in 2016.
The project involves geotechnical work, topographical survey, model construction, dismantling of ruins, disposal of debris, and reconstruction among others.
The project manager, Namgay Dorji, said archaeological survey and soil tests were conducted for about three months in 2016 to restore and reconstruct the dzong.
“Two of the seven phases of the reconstruction project had been completed,” he said. “Workers are now occupied in the third and fourth phase.”
More than 200 Bhutanese are working at the site.
Works such as electrification, mud plastering, whitewashing and painting, fixation of the floorboard, door shutter and glass frames are being carried out on parts of the dzong, which are completed.
Stone slabs (Doleps) are also being laid at the basement and courtyards along with the construction of drainage system.
Namgay Dorji said an assessment would be carried out for the other parts of the dzong to check the strength of the walls and accordingly build on it or lay the foundation for construction.
He said that although the requirement is to work for eight hours, they work from 7:30am to 5pm. “They also work overtime from 5pm till 9pm every week except on Sundays.”
The project manager said their main challenge is the shortage of timber. “Lot of timber is needed for the roof. We manage from Haa.”
He said they do not have difficulties in availing of the stone and other materials needed for the construction.
Namgay Dorji said that Nu 500 Million (M) is allocated for the project and about Nu 116.255M was utilised until June this year. “We get a total of about Nu 50M a year.”
Built in 1649 to honor Bhutan’s victory over the combined forces of the military from Tibet and Mongolia, the dzong is believed to be the first of its kind. The dzong used to house sacred documents that were lost to a fire in 1951.
At the ninth edition of Tour of the Dragon, an annual one-day mountain biking race in the country, Aaron Bayard from America recorded the best time at 11 hours and 11 minutes since 2015 on Sunday in Thimphu. It took more than 50 minutes after Aaron Bayard for Norbu, a local biker, to reach the […]
At the ninth edition of Tour of the Dragon, an annual one-day mountain biking race in the country, Aaron Bayard from America recorded the best time at 11 hours and 11 minutes since 2015 on Sunday in Thimphu.
It took more than 50 minutes after Aaron Bayard for Norbu, a local biker, to reach the finish point. Norbu completed the race at 12 hours and 3 minutes to win the runner-up position.
Following Norbu was Tashi Namgyal who reached finish point after 12 minutes to win the third position.
A total of 48 bikers, seven from America, six from India and four from the United Kingdom took part in the ultra marathon mountain biking race organised by Bhutan Olympic Committee.
Rinchen Dema, 23, is the only Bhutanese women to compete in the race to date. She took part in the race last year.
Chimi Dema and Jonathan Redman defend Dragon’s Fury titles
Meanwhile, in another biking competition held on the same day called Dragon’s Fury, the reigning champions Jonathan Redman from Australia in senior men category and Chimi Dema in senior women category defended their titles.
Chimi Dema won Dragon’s Fury thrice in senior women category. A total of six women riders took part in the race and two were foreigners.
A total of 68 bikers took part in Dragon’s Fury – 35 in senior men category, 26 in junior boys, six in senior women, and a lone participant in the junior girls’ category.
Completing the race in 2 hours 34 minutes, Tenzin Namgay won the Dragon’s Fury race in the junior boys’ category. Binesh Thapa followed at 2 hours 52 minutes.
Tenzin Wangmo, the lone participant in the junior girls’ category, finished at 5 hours 26 minutes, which was 28 minutes earlier than last year’s record.
The 60km race flagged off from Punakha at 10 am on Sunday.
More than 100 local and international bikers were involved in two separate events of Tour of the Dragon and Dragon’s Fury on the same day.
Ecotourism, although relatively new and small, seem to be bringing significant development in the rural parts of the country. Careful regulation and promotion of ecotourism, therefore, needs to be worked so that the households can explore income-earning opportunities besides farming. At the time when villages are met with the growing issue of farmhands shortage, taking […]
Ecotourism, although relatively new and small, seem to be bringing significant development in the rural parts of the country. Careful regulation and promotion of ecotourism, therefore, needs to be worked so that the households can explore income-earning opportunities besides farming. At the time when villages are met with the growing issue of farmhands shortage, taking ecotourism or making the villages into attractive tourist market makes all the more development sense.
An evaluation by the Gross National Happiness Commission found that ecotourism has helped bring positive impact on the local communities. Income generated from home stay and campsites have helped improve household income. More importantly, it has led to efficient conservation of natural environment and preservation of culture and tradition.
At the core of the idea is to give the management of tourism-related activities and responsibilities of managing what can be sold to the people of the communities while providing means for them to augment their income from the farms. Most tourists do not go beyond Paro, Thimphu and Punakha because the agents do not plan programmes outside of traditional destinations. It is evident, however, that if we are a little more imaginative and open our rural communities as destinations there will be no shortage of visitors. And because it is an important source of income, communities feel encouraged to maintain the environment and to preserve what is unique about them.
Zhemgang is the dzongkhag that has witnessed least number of tourists, not because there is nothing that tourists can enjoy there but because tour agents do not take tourists there due to distance from the capital. Today, a home stay in Zhemgang makes not less than Nu 400,000 annually, perhaps by lot more than home stays in Thimphu, Wangdue, Lhuentse.
Close to 90 percent of respondents have said that ecotourism has helped improve the living standards of the people in the communities by boosting rural economy. It has been observed that 98 percent of home stays showcased traditional products, served traditional cuisines and traditions unique to the communities.
Today, when the rural pockets of the country are facing the ever-growing challenge of human-wildlife conflicts and rural to urban migration, promotion of ecotourism could be the most appropriate of interventions.
Bhutan’s first satellite CubeSat Bhutan-1 was deployed from International Space Station (ISS) into the low earth orbit yesterday. This comes after the release of Bhutan-1 along with CubeSats of the Philippines and Malaysia into ISS on June 29. Officials of the information and communications ministry gathered once again at the ministry’s conference hall yesterday. Live-streamed […]
Bhutan’s first satellite CubeSat Bhutan-1 was deployed from International Space Station (ISS) into the low earth orbit yesterday.
This comes after the release of Bhutan-1 along with CubeSats of the Philippines and Malaysia into ISS on June 29.
Officials of the information and communications ministry gathered once again at the ministry’s conference hall yesterday.
Live-streamed on YouTube, representatives from various countries and institutes gathered at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) in Tokyo, Japan.
Following the ‘go’ approval from the representatives of Bhutan, Malaysia, and the Philippines, ISS released the satellites at 3:45pm yesterday.
This means that Bhutan-1 would be now operational and can be tracked from the ground station at the information and communications ministry.
Marking the historic event, jointly produced by MoIC and Bhutan Postal Corporation Limited, a new 3D lenticulaire stamp was also launched. The stamp has four apartments with the pictures of Bhutan-1 satellite, which when viewed from a slightly different angle can see pictures of four dzongs of Bhutan.
Sold at Nu 1,000 a piece, Bhutan Postal Corporation Limited has limited 4,500 copies of the stamps.
CubeSat Bhutan-1 was developed by Bhutanese engineers at the Kyushu Institute of Technology, Japan as part of their Master’s Degree under the BIRDS-2 Project.
The BIRDS project is a cross-border interdisciplinary satellite project for non-space faring countries supported by Japan.
Work to develop the three 1U (10*10*10 cm) CubeSat began in November 2016.
MoIC’s officiating secretary, Karma Wangchuk, said that through His Majesty The King’s vision to raise awareness and interest in space science and technology, Bhutan in 2016 sent engineers to the Kyushu Institute of Technology in Japan to study space engineering and to participate in the BIRDS-2 Project.
He added that His Majesty The King also presented five numbers of KENWOOD handheld radio to College of Science and Technology, Rinchending; Jigme Namgyel Engineering College, Deothang; Sherubtse College, Kanglung; Gyalpozhing College of Information Technology, Gyalpozhing; and Royal Thimphu College, Thimphu.
The satellite will pass over Bhutan five to six times a day for about three to four minutes.
Bhutan-1 satellite was sent with five major experimental missions. The satellite that has two cameras attached to it will take pictures and video of the country.
Chief of Telecom and Space Division, Sonam Phuntsho, said that the satellite would relay data of the glaciers and lakes or water level through sensors to the ground station.
“Through the satellite, people can also engage in sending messages to the satellite through the radio handsets. Once the satellite receives text messages, it will broadcast and other amateur radio users will be able to hear it.” The radio handsets presented to the five colleges can be used for this purpose.
The satellites will also measure the radiation in the space.
As the satellite used consumer GPS product in the three CubeSats, Sonam Phuntsho, said that researchers could also study and check how it functions.
“Satellite specialised GPS chips are expensive. The consumer GPS product is much cheaper. So, they can study the type of changes that needs to be made in future.”
He added that the development of the satellite also helped build the capacity of the Bhutanese engineers.
The data collected with the satellite will be shared with various institutions and colleges for research purposes in the country.
At JAXA, Japan, ambassador of Bhutan to Thailand, Tshewang C Dorji, thanked the engineers who developed the satellite, Kyushu Institute of Technology, and JAXA for their efforts in developing the country’s first satellite.
Nine out of every 10 international tourists, almost, have voted Bhutan as a safe tourist destination, according to Tourism Council of Bhutan’s (TCB) exit survey 2017. Similarly, about 91 percent of the regional tourists from India, Bangladesh and Maldives said Bhutan was a safe tourist destination. About 1,428 international visitors were surveyed at the Paro […]
Nine out of every 10 international tourists, almost, have voted Bhutan as a safe tourist destination, according to Tourism Council of Bhutan’s (TCB) exit survey 2017.
Similarly, about 91 percent of the regional tourists from India, Bangladesh and Maldives said Bhutan was a safe tourist destination.
About 1,428 international visitors were surveyed at the Paro International Airport using administered questionnaire survey. A small number of international tourists were interviewed at exit points of Phuentsholing, Samdrupjongkhar, and Gelephu.
A total of 1,534 regional visitors were surveyed at all exit points.
For the international visitors, in terms of tourist satisfaction, value for money stands the highest meaning tourists expect the equal return for the money they paid for their visit. “This is, however, a subjective evaluation on the part of the tourists,” the survey states.
The survey found that more than 60 percent of the international tourists responded that the minimum daily tariff rate is worth the whole visit, while 7.8 percent said they were not satisfied.
The second top attribute was accessibility to services, followed by transport system, according to the survey.
Guide services, accessibility to services and accommodation were the three most important attributes contributing to the satisfaction of regional tourists.
While 89.8 percent of the international tourist responded that Bhutan had a unique destination image in the region, only about 68.5 percent of the regional visitors felt the same.
According to the survey, 74.9 and 81.7 percent of international and regional visitors respectively expressed that Bhutan offers wide range of visitors’ products or services. About 62.8 percent of the international visitors stated that Bhutan offers affordable travel destination, while 80.7 percent of the regional visitors stated the same.
More than 80 percent of the visitors responded that Bhutan’s pristine environment, its people and culture were tourist attraction and Bhutan was known for its Gross National Happiness philosophy.
In terms of the visitor’s satisfaction with the facilities and services available, more than 60 percent of the international visitors said the local transport, accommodation provided to them and food and beverages served were worth the payment they made. About less than 10 percent said the three services were not worth the value of their payment.
Similarly, majority of the regional tourist said they were happy with these services.
More than half of the international and regional visitors were satisfied with access to services like banking system and communication facilities.
About 52.4 percent said they were satisfied with the toilet facilities while 16.7 percent said they were not satisfied and 4.5 percent said they were not at all satisfied. About 13 percent of the regional tourists said they were not satisfied with the toilet facilities in the country while 63.9 percent said they were satisfied.
Majority (80.4 percent) of the international visitors expressed culture and traditional charm in Bhutan attracted them to Bhutan. For regional tourist, besides culture and tradition (41.2 percent) of Bhutan, natural and ecological factor (33.8 percent) inspired them to visit the country.
About 91 percent of the international tourists responded that they visited Bhutan for the first time as against nine percent who visited more than once, according to the survey. About 8.4 percent of the regional tourists have visited the country for the first time while 48.9 percent responded that they were visiting the country for the second time.
According to the survey, more than 80 percent of the visitors have found the guides professional and of good quality while about 4.6 percent were not satisfied with the service quality of guides.
“Guide services is perceived as one of the key factors responsible for tourist loyalty,” it states.
The exit survey shows that about 91 percent of the international visitors had intention to revisit Bhutan and about 85 percent of them want to recommend Bhutan to others. More than 80 percent of the regional tourist intend to revisit the country and would recommend Bhutan to others.
In terms of travel arrangement and travel part composition, the survey found that more than 70 percent of the international and regional arrivals had come through travel agents. The rest travelled independently, through arrangement by counterpart government and corporations especially those who had visited Bhutan for business and official purposes.
Only about 40 percent of the international arrivals stated that the tourist hotspots had disable-friendly service while 71.5 percent of the regional visitors stated the same.
With the arrival of the second Airbus 319 on August 4 in Paro, the Bhutan Airlines now has a fleet of two aircraft. Two Airbus 319 are on lease for four years. Bhutan Airlines signed the lease agreement for two airbuses with AerCap, a global leader in aircraft leasing and aviation finance on September 28 […]
With the arrival of the second Airbus 319 on August 4 in Paro, the Bhutan Airlines now has a fleet of two aircraft.
Two Airbus 319 are on lease for four years.
Bhutan Airlines signed the lease agreement for two airbuses with AerCap, a global leader in aircraft leasing and aviation finance on September 28 in Thimphu last year.
Chief executive officer of the Bhutan Airlines, Phala Dorji, said that both the airplanes have 126 seats each. “Older ones were replaced to give confidence and provide passengers with a safe and comfortable experience of the flight.”
He said that seat numbers have increased and that both airplanes are about seven years old, which in the aviation world is as good as new.
The lease for the older planes ended last month. The airline leased the older aircraft from Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC) Aviation Capital in 2014.
Phala Dorji said that the older airplanes were about 15 years old.
The first Aibus 319 arrived earlier last month on June 23. The Airbuses are expected to operate starting today.
Currently, Bhutan Airlines operate flights to Bangkok in Thailand, Delhi and Calcutta in India, and Kathmandu in Nepal.