43 days in Bhutan

By: Tashi TOBGAY on Friday, June, 15th,2018 in News. No Comments


Chuck Reed arrived in Bhutan in May to better understand the country and Buddhism. Five years ago, the 66-year-old American from West Virginia stumbled on a Netflix movie about Bhutan. It was the name Bhutan that had him watch the movie. And he figured where his next destination would be. Reed stayed in the country […]


Chuck Reed arrived in Bhutan in May to better understand the country and Buddhism.

Five years ago, the 66-year-old American from West Virginia stumbled on a Netflix movie about Bhutan. It was the name Bhutan that had him watch the movie. And he figured where his next destination would be.

Reed stayed in the country for 43 days, perhaps the longest visit by a tourist.

“I heard that Bhutan was a very expensive place to visit. I saved for a couple of years to be able to afford the visit,” said Reed who thinks Bhutan is the only country with purest Buddhist culture in the world.

A few years ago, Reed started writing poetry about creation, reality and consciousness. But he did not think it would be complete without a deeper understanding and appreciation of Buddhism.

Reed had been working at West Virginia State University for the last sixteen years. “I work in a federally-funded programme that helps poor students who are the firsts in their families to go to universities.”  His passion, he said, was to make sure these students got worthwhile education that would prepare them to start a good career.

In a span of six weeks, Reed visited 10 dzongkhags starting from Haa to Trashigang.

Choetens are his favourite in Bhutan. “They are the physical manifestation of the Buddha in a landscape, which is everything and everywhere. I’ve taken more photos of it than any other thing.”

Here in Bhutan, he said that when people pray they are intended for all sentient beings. “This is different from all other cultures and absolutely beautiful.”

In Haa, he identified a flower that was also found in his native home. “My guide searched it on her smartphone, and then we found that it cures affliction by evil spirits. But if this happened in America, I would have never read about it.”

Reed loved homestays in Bhutan where he got to eat berries and ferns. “It’s because you are eating with your family in a circle, with everyone else.”

He visited monasteries, trekked through mountains and met with lamas. While on a trek to Jomolhari the mountain had been shrouded in clouds for the whole month. “When I got there, all the clouds lifted and Jomolhari showed herself in full glory. It was incredible.”

On his journey to the eastern part of the country, Reed stopped to visit a small community school. “Everything there was meant to encourage learning. It was beautiful, just like a park. I wish my students had a school like that to go to.”

Interacting with the Bhutanese, Reed said he notice that the Bhutanese, particularly young, wanted to leave Bhutan for better opportunities abroad. He did not understand why anyone would want to leave such a good place and culture.

“If I ever get an opportunity to return to this beautiful country, I would like to go to Gasa and Laya,” Reed said. “As reality, creation, consciousness are subjects that are at the heart of Buddhism, I wanted to come here to make sure that I got that part right.”

The Bhutan experience, Reed said, added texture, detail and perhaps more life to his perspectives.

“I may have seen things that may have been black and white. After visiting Bhutan, they are now all radiant and colourful.”

Rinchen Zangmo

Source: Kuenselonline

His Majesty on tour of Wangduephodrang

By: Tashi TOBGAY on Thursday, June, 14th,2018 in News. No Comments


His Majesty The King and officials join the farmers working in their paddy fields in Changkha, Gasetsho Gom gewog in Wangdue yesterday. Their Majesties are on a tour of Wangduephodrang dzongkhag.The onset of monsoon, when paddy saplings must be transplanted, is the most important time of the year for Bhutanese farmers. The work is strenuous […]


His Majesty The King and officials join the farmers working in their paddy fields in Changkha, Gasetsho Gom gewog in Wangdue yesterday. Their Majesties are on a tour of Wangduephodrang dzongkhag.The onset of monsoon, when paddy saplings must be transplanted, is the most important time of the year for Bhutanese farmers. The work is strenuous in the mountainous terrain, but it is reflective of the strong culture of interdependence in the rural community. Every helping hand is useful, so villagers pool labour to help accomplish the task, joining in to help wherever there is work to be done.

Source: Kuenselonline

Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen inaugurates Waste Recovery Centre

By: Tashi TOBGAY on Wednesday, June, 6th,2018 in News. No Comments


Coinciding with the World Environment Day, Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen officially inaugurated the Waste Recovery Centre at Ngabiphu in Thimphu, yesterday. Her Majesty is the Royal Patron of the Environment. Dry wastes collected from the are brought to the centre, where it is sorted and recyclables recovered before transferring the left over waste to Memelakha landfill. […]


Coinciding with the World Environment Day, Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen officially inaugurated the Waste Recovery Centre at Ngabiphu in Thimphu, yesterday. Her Majesty is the Royal Patron of the Environment.

Dry wastes collected from the are brought to the centre, where it is sorted and recyclables recovered before transferring the left over waste to Memelakha landfill.

Thimphu Thromde said, every day, 50 tons of wastes are collected from within the city. Of it, half is dry wastes. With the centre, only 5 per cent of dry wastes collected will be taken to Memelakha landfill.

This means the centre contributes towards enhancing the lifespan of the landfill. Works to construct the centre began in January 2015. It has been operational since last year end.

The recovered pet bottles, card boxes, tins and aluminium are transported to recycling centres in Pasakha and neighbouring towns across the border. The paper wastes are sent to egg tray plant in Bjemina.

Greener Way- a private waste management company has set up the Waste Recovery Centre at an estimated cost of Nu 40m. As approved by the government, thromde provided Nu 15m for the project, while the rest were availed as loans from financial institutions.

Source: BBS

People offer wishes to Her Majesty

By: Tashi TOBGAY on Tuesday, June, 5th,2018 in News. No Comments


Representatives from the Taxi Tshogpa, Centenary Farmer’s Market, National Veterinary Hospital, and health services personnel offered Tashi Khadhar to Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen who turned 28 yesterday. The group received an audience with His Majesty The King, in the presence of Her Majesty and His Royal Highness the Gyalsey. In keeping with the wishes of […]


Representatives from the Taxi Tshogpa, Centenary Farmer’s Market, National Veterinary Hospital, and health services personnel offered Tashi Khadhar to Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen who turned 28 yesterday. The group received an audience with His Majesty The King, in the presence of Her Majesty and His Royal Highness the Gyalsey. In keeping with the wishes of Their Majesties, people from all walks of life have been welcomed at the Lingkana Palace over the years to offer their wishes to Their Majesties on important occasions. Her Majesty was born on June 4, 1990.

Source: Kuenselonline

Laya’s traditional hat under threat of disappearance

By: Tashi TOBGAY on Monday, May, 21st,2018 in News. No Comments


Laya’s traditional bamboo hat, once widely worn by its women, is fast disappearing. There aren’t many weavers left around now and the women too seldom wear their the hats. The hat is an integral part of the highlander’s culture. In the past, Layap women wore it every day. But now it is worn only during special occasions […]


Laya’s traditional bamboo hat, once widely worn by its women, is fast disappearing. There aren’t many weavers left around now and the women too seldom wear their the hats.

The hat is an integral part of the highlander’s culture. In the past, Layap women wore it every day. But now it is worn only during special occasions like Tshechu.

Today, there are only three weavers of the hat left in Laya. The younger generations are showing no interest in learning the art, putting the tradition at the risk of disappearance.

Chimi Dem and her husband are Laya’s two of the last three remaining weavers of the hat.

Chimi is afraid it wouldn’t be long before the traditional hats are replaced by imported ones. “If at all the hat is not woven here, I am sure replicas of the hat made from plastic in India will make its way into Laya,” she said.

Chimi learned the art from her late father. She has woven hundreds of hats over the last 15 years. It takes her an entire day to finish one hat, which fetches her 600 ngultrum.

She is upset that nothing is being done to preserve the traditional hat. “It would be good if the young show interest in learning the art as it would help keep our hat tradition alive,” she said.

She says she is happy to teach but as of now, no one has come forward to learn.

Many women in Laya now prefer kira over their traditional dress. This, Chimi Dem said, is one reason why the hat is becoming a rarity.

“We have to put on the hat if we wear zum, which is our traditional attire. This is our tradition. We don’t wear the hat when we wear kira, but young women these days prefer kira. The hat tradition might disappear soon.”

Like remote,  traditional cultures elsewhere in the country, this is, perhaps, Laya paying the price for opening up to the outside world and the so called modernization.

Source: BBS

The last surviving potter of Gangzur

By: Tashi TOBGAY on Monday, May, 21st,2018 in News. No Comments


Pottery making, one of Bhutan’s traditional crafts, is on the verge of extinction. In Gangzur in Lhuentse, the fate of this ancient tradition rest in the hands of Tshewang Choden. 60-year-old Tshewang Choden is the last surviving potters in Gangzur, a village that was once known for pottery making. Tshewang Choden began learning the art […]


Pottery making, one of Bhutan’s traditional crafts, is on the verge of extinction. In Gangzur in Lhuentse, the fate of this ancient tradition rest in the hands of Tshewang Choden.

60-year-old Tshewang Choden is the last surviving potters in Gangzur, a village that was once known for pottery making.

Tshewang Choden began learning the art of pottery making at the age of 13 from her mother. “It earns me good money but making earthen pots is not easy,” she says.

While a host of factors are being blamed for the gradual disappearance of the traditional craft, it is the sheer hard work that pottery making entails that is stripping the craft of its appeal.

“It’s hard work. The process is long and time consuming. You have to first collect clay, remove stones from it and then knead it into dough before shaping it into various pot designs. Finally, it has to be dried and this is most the challenging part because it is hard to get firewood.”

Tshewang takes most of the pots and other earthen wares that she makes for sale to Thimphu.

Gangzur Gup Kinzang Dorji is afraid that the traditional craft may not survive for long.

Lack of market for locally made earthen wares and competition from ready-made imports remain the biggest challenges to preserving the traditional craft.

In Gangzur, initiatives have been taken to ensure the survival of the art.

“There are over 20 households in Gangzur village and 16 of them formed a pottery group,” Gup Kinzang Dorji said.

But it wasn’t long before the members started quitting.

“Many gave up because it’s hard work. Tarayana Foundation still supports the earthen pottery house in the village. It would be great if the government could provide a clay crushing machine. I think this would reduce the drudgery in pottery making and would help revive interest in the craft,” the Gup added.

Tshewang Choden too is worried over the fate of pottery.

Her products sell well but she is sad that the ancient craft is dying a slow death with the younger generations not showing any interest in keeping the tradition alive.

Source: BBS

Bhutan observes International Day of Happiness

By: Tashi TOBGAY on Wednesday, March, 21st,2018 in News. No Comments


Bhutan observed the International Day of Happiness yesterday with the lighting of a thousand butter lamps at the Simtokha Dzong, according to a press release from the foreign affairs ministry. Foreign minister Damcho Dorji led the commemoration this year, where the theme is Share Happiness – focusing on the importance of relationships, kindness and helping […]


Bhutan observed the International Day of Happiness yesterday with the lighting of a thousand butter lamps at the Simtokha Dzong, according to a press release from the foreign affairs ministry.

Foreign minister Damcho Dorji led the commemoration this year, where the theme is Share Happiness – focusing on the importance of relationships, kindness and helping each other.

Senior government officials, representatives of the diplomatic community, international organisations, and civil society attended the event.

The day was first observed in 2013 after the United Nations General Assembly on June 28 in 2012 declared March 20 as the International Day of Happiness.

The press release stated that the resolution was inspired by the UN General Assembly resolution titled, ‘Happiness: towards a holistic approach to development,’ which was initiated by Bhutan and adopted by consensus by the UN General Assembly in July 2011.

The UN World Happiness Report 2018 has ranked Bhutan as the 97th happiest country in the world out of 156 countries.

Staff reporter

Source: Kuenselonline

Japanese wins 5th Bhutan International Marathon

By: Tashi TOBGAY on Friday, March, 9th,2018 in News. No Comments


About 369 participants completed the fifth Bhutan International Marathon that was held in Punakha on March 3. In the full marathon (42kms) for male, a 22-year-old Japanese, Yoshiyuki Hara, secured the first position by completing the race in 2hours 27mins and 18 seconds. He also secured the first position for male’s half marathon last year. […]


About 369 participants completed the fifth Bhutan International Marathon that was held in Punakha on March 3.

In the full marathon (42kms) for male, a 22-year-old Japanese, Yoshiyuki Hara, secured the first position by completing the race in 2hours 27mins and 18 seconds. He also secured the first position for male’s half marathon last year.

Two soldiers, Duptho Wangchuk of the Royal Bhutan Army (RBA) and Kinley Gyeltshen of the Royal Body Guards (RBG), came second and third by completing the race in 2:47:07 and 2:54:14 respectively.

In the female’s full marathon category, Sarah Easton, 30, stood first by completing the race in 3:42:17. She is a professional athlete who runs for charity to raise funds for refugees of Myanmar. The race was her first at such altitude. The race started at 6,700ft.

Ursula Schulz and Pema Zam bagged the second and third position by completing the race in 4:11:50 and 4:43:23 respectively.

The race started from Tashithang in Gasa and ended at the Punakha Dzong parking, detouring from Changyul towards the cremation ground and following the trail that leads to the 300ft suspension bridge and the Samdingkha road towards Kuruthang.

In the half marathon, three RBA soldiers, Phurpa, Nima Dorji and Kinley Tenzin, were the winners. Phurpa completed the race in 1:18:46, where as Nima and Kinley took 1:18:54 and 1:19:11 respectivelty.

In the female half category, Jocelyn Bradley, who took 1:40:14, won the race followed by a teacher of Thimphu Primary School, Juliana Mamola. She took 1:44:14 seconds to complete the race.

Tika Monger came third by completing it in 1:57:04.

The half marathon started from the Sirigang in Kabisa.

The winners were awarded cash prizes ranging from Nu 3000 to Nu 20,000.

Of the 419 people participated in the race but some did not complete by the scheduled time, which was from 8am to 3pm.

There were 277 international and 142 national participants, of which 73 were above 50 years.

Tashi Dema

Source: Kuensel

Bhutan once again makes its entry on list of 100 Sustainable Destinations

By: Tashi TOBGAY on Tuesday, March, 6th,2018 in News. No Comments


Bhutan has been nominated for the ‘World’s Sustainable Destinations Top 100 Awards,’ this year. Of 100 destinations selected, Bhutan has been listed among the top sustainable destinations in Earth category for the first time. The award function will be held in Berlin, Germany on Wednesday (March 7). Officials from the Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) said, […]


Bhutan has been nominated for the ‘World’s Sustainable Destinations Top 100 Awards,’ this year. Of 100 destinations selected, Bhutan has been listed among the top sustainable destinations in Earth category for the first time.

The award function will be held in Berlin, Germany on Wednesday (March 7). Officials from the Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) said, there will be audience prize in addition to the jury awards, where the audiences of the event will be asked to vote for the top hundred audience prize.

The finalists were categorised in five categories: Best of Cities, Communities and Culture, Best of Nature, Best of Seaside, Earth Award and Best of the Planet.

“We are really looking at organised way for trekking, respecting animal movements, and protecting biological corridors. We have designated camp sides and environmental respects and recognition that we really commit to,” stated Damcho Rinzin, the Media Spokesperson of TCB, adding that due to all these justifications, they felt Bhutan should be on the list of 100 sustainable destinations across the globe.

The 12 jury members from 12 different international agencies selected the countries that will qualify to be on the list of final sustainable destinations. The selected places were those fulfilling the hundred criteria and six different themes ranging from the management of the environment to respecting of the nature.

“The jury which represents from top twelve agencies are the champions of sustainability, so they will look into all these criteria and try to understand what Bhutan has done to be the champion,” shared Damcho Rinzin to BBS News.

He also said such awards are important for the country as foreigners will come to know about its commitments to conservation of nature. Bhutan has made to top hundred lists in the past as well.

The World’s Best Sustainable Destinations Award is an annual event and it is one of the prestigious opportunities to showcase green destinations to the world, focusing mainly on tourism.

The Green Destinations- an agency that recognises destinations around the world for championing sustainability in terms of nature and culture among others is the organiser of the award ceremony.

Sonam Choden

Source: BBS

BHUTAN-1 ready to be delivered for launch

By: Tashi TOBGAY on Wednesday, February, 28th,2018 in News. No Comments


Hitting a milestone in the history of space science and technology in Bhutan, the country’s first cubesat BHUTAN-1 is ready for delivery to the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) for launch. The news was shared during a press conference via video conferencing for cubesat Flight Model (FM) delivery organised by the Kyushu Institute of Technology […]


Hitting a milestone in the history of space science and technology in Bhutan, the country’s first cubesat BHUTAN-1 is ready for delivery to the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) for launch.

The news was shared during a press conference via video conferencing for cubesat Flight Model (FM) delivery organised by the Kyushu Institute of Technology (Kyutech), Japan yesterday.

The cubesat, weighing less than 1.5kgs will be delivered to JAXA sometime in April.

Bhutan, along with Malaysia and the Philippines, is currently participating in the second joint global multi-nations BIRDS Project called BIRDS-2, initiated by Kyutech, represented by four engineers from the telecom and space divisionof the information and communications ministry (MoIC).

MoIC secretary Dasho Karma W Penjor said, this marks Bhutan’s first step towards development of Bhutan’s Space Science and Technology Programme, a vision of His Majesty The King.

“The project began in late 2016 as a manifestation of His Majesty The King’s vision for Bhutan’s foray into space science and technology and for Bhutan to make a preliminary entry along with members of the international communityinto space.”

He said that space science and technology has the potential to leapfrog socio-economic development and especially so for a country like Bhutan with a dispersed population and a harsh and physically challenging geographic environment.

These applications and uses of space science and technology will also facilitate Bhutan, as it will for other developing countries to speed up and facilitate the government’s efforts towards achieving the United Nation’s sustainable development goals, he said.

Dasho KarmaW Penjor said it is a special project since it has enabled Bhutan to develop the country’s first satellite called BHUTAN-1 and also train the first space engineers.

Initial estimates showed that the whole process from training the engineers to launching the nanosat and building a ground station in the country would cost around USD 280,000.

Under the BIRDS-2 Project that began in November 2016, the engineers along with participants from the

Philippines and Malaysia will build three 1U (10*10*10 cm) CubeSat.

With the finalisation of the missions by December 2016, the team began designing and testing the design by March last year. After verifying the functions of each sub-system, the team built the first Engineering Model (EM-1) of the satellite in June. By October, the EM-2 was completed and works on developing the Flight Module (FM) began.

Annually, the national broadcaster spends around Nu 9.5 million (M) to use the INSAT communication facilities to broadcast BBS TV throughout the country. Bhutan Telecom invests around Nu 3M to provide telecommunication services and the Department of Hydro-Met Services pays around Nu 1.2M every year for the GLOF early warning systems.

Once launched, the satellite will operate in a low altitude of about 500km to 1,500km. With the help of two high-end cameras fitted on the satellite, it will take high quality photographs of the country, help examine the conditions of the glaciers, lakes, forest covers and provide basic communication services.

Bhutan became a member of the International Telecommunication Union in 1988.

Tshering Palden

Source: Kuenselonline