Bhutan has been on my bucket list ever since I heard about 'Gross National Happiness', a concept that replaces GDP in Bhutan. What amused me was that while every other country is trying to become a super power, this country has recognized 'Happiness' as the key to national development. What a paradigm shift in the way we look at national progress and growth! Since then, I desperately wanted to tour Bhutan to witness their culture, traverse across the himalayan landscapes and see how happy Bhutanese were.
The long weekend of Ganesh Chaturdi gave us the right opportunity as a 4 day leave would give us a 10 day vacation! (3rd Sep to 12th Sep 2016 - 5th was Ganesh Chaturdi and 12th was Bakr-Id).
We started as a group of 6 at the planning stage, but as we approached the 'ticket booking' stage only 2 of us were left - my childhood friend, Krishna Murthy, from Pune and I, Shashank, from Bangalore! Rest of them dropped, each with a different excuse. How and what all we planned for the trip is a different story in itself but our goals were clear:
1. Keep the trip as spontaneous and flexible as possible - we had few places in mind but we were ready to change the entire itinerary based on our conversations with the locals after reaching Bhutan
2. No pre-booked tour packages - as this would limit our interaction with the locals and divert our attention towards normal tourist attractions. This eventually helped us in visiting places and doing things that don't reflect on regular tour packages.
3. No pre-booked hotels - as we had no clue where we would be on a given day unless we decide after reaching Bhutan!
4. Use local transport as much as possible - This would give us more opportunity to interact with the locals, witness their culture, discover new places and keep our expenses minimal.
5. Do not rush. Spending some quality time in one good place is better than rushing to 10 places just for the name sake.
Simply put, we just wanted to go with the flow exploring and enjoying. Here's how it went...