After fantasising about visiting the Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan for more than a decade, I finally locked in a ticket for mid-April 2020. Alas, COVID-19 hit, and I now spend my evenings sprawled on the lounge room floor, scouring the internet for photographs and videos of Bhutan as I dream of a time when I can return.
The idea of visiting a carbon-negative country, one that prioritises Gross National Happiness (GNH) over Gross Domestic Product, was what initially beckoned me to the Himalayan kingdom. I imagined that witnessing how GNH affected the functioning of society might hand me the keys to a truly contented life.
Having studied Buddhism for over a decade, I also longed to sink into Bhutan’s spiritual side. To drive along steep dirt tracks lined with dzhong fortresses, to light butter lamps in Buddhist temples and to listen to the soundtrack of chanting, saffron-robed monks.
To watch tattered prayer flags flapping in the breeze in emerald valleys ablaze with spring wildflowers, to spin my sins away on prayer wheels and to wake at dawn to meditate. Also, to hike to the country’s famous Taktsang Lhakhang or Tiger’s Nest Monastery, to learn about the intricately woven national textiles and to watch traditional masked dance performances while eating momo dumplings and sipping butter tea.
I will get to Bhutan, hopefully sooner rather than later. Meanwhile I have my lounge room dreaming to see me through, as I wait for Lisa Napoli’s book Radio Shangri-La: What I Learned in Bhutan to land on my doorstep, and remind myself that good things do indeed come to those who wait.
THIS STORY FIRST APPEARED AS PART OF A LARGER STORY, IN PRINT AND ONLINE HERE.