Bhutan: The Approach
Suddenly, our plane banked and turned right basically to avoid an unwanted head-on introduction to the mountain outside of our right windows. Then we made a left turn and the runway appeared out of nowhere. We were practically on top of it. The landing strip seemed to be smack dab in the center of town with houses and buildings on either side of it. We bounced down on the pavement and quickly came to a screeching halt outside of an Asian-Pagoda style building. We’d landed in Bhutan.
The hour-long flight from Katmandu, Nepal to Paro, Bhutan was one of the most dramatic I’ve ever been on. But it actually wasn’t because of that hair-raising landing, it was the views of the Himalaya mountain range on the way…yes, the one with Mt. Everest, the highest point on the planet at 29,029 feet (8,848 m). In my worldly travels, I’ve flown over the Alps in Europe, the Rockies in the USA, and the Andes in South America, but nothing was quite like this. Mountains so high…they popped up through the highest clouds. It was like gazing at a another planet out of our tiny windows. Was this even Earth? I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face and goose bumps dotted my arms. It felt like we were jetting so close to them, my mouth was likely agape most of the flight.
Everyone told us, “sit on the left side of the plane!” So I was pretty disappointed when I ended up with an aisle seat. Boooo! But, it soon became evident that the flight was only half full. The instant I realized this, I lept out of my seat in mid-conversation with my tour mates and somehow jockeyed past the Chinese tourists on board to land myself a window seat. Phew! It was over the wing (not so great for photography), but I couldn’t complain.
Plus, Drukair (the national carrier of Bhutan) was much nicer than I’d imagined. I had pictured a tiny prop plane, but this was a full fledged 737 with leather seats and room to breathe. And although it was just 60 minutes in the air, they still came around with a lovely snack consisting of a small sandwich and samosa-type pastry with vegetable filling. And didn’t charge for it. Are you listening United?
Once we landed in Bhutan and were back on terra firma, it felt like we’d just gotten off a great ride at Universal Studios. But now, the real ride was about to begin, two weeks in the magical Kingdom of Bhutan with Exodus Travels.
More to come!