Monday, November 30, 2015

Druk Yul, Bhutan, the Land of the Thunder Dragon

 Nestled in the Himalayan range and situated in between Tibet and China, Bhutan was once an unknown and isolated territory. However with the course of time, this country slowly gained her status on on the world map. Bhutan is considered the only nation on the planet where the Tantric Buddhism is still taught and practiced.  The pristine nature of the country surrounded by the spectacular mountainous scenery and the sacredness of the place marks Bhutan as a land of the "Last Shangrila".

Brad is just finishing up a two week kayaking expedition in Bhutan. The kids and I fly out later this week to meet up with him, and spend the month of December doing some volunteer work in Thimphu, which is the capital of Bhutan. Brad will be at the hospital, and the kids and I plan on spending some time at the school and orphanage. Doing some international volunteer work is something I have always wanted to do with my kids, and the desire became even stronger after we traveled through SE Asia in 2013. There are many volunteer organizations on the web and one of the most recognized companies is based out of New Plymouth. I had a couple of meetings with the director trying to figure out a plan for our family. Lindsey really wanted to do the turtle conservation in Bali. But after the program fees, and registration fees it would of cost our family $7,000 and that does not include airfare. Keep in mind there are many, many other countries and options for volunteering, this was just the one I looked into. The company gets great reviews and I am sure it would of been an amazing experience but it just cost too much money. So about a year later Brad gets an email from one of his old kayaking buddies about a kayaking trip in Bhutan. Brad and I use to live in Aspen, Colorado and Brad use to coach the high school students in track and field. He use to coach a young girl, Darcy Gaechter, who also worked with us at Colorado Rift Raft as a raft guide when she was older. Darcy became an awesome kayaker and has continued on with her love of kayaking and now runs her own Kayaking and adventure travel company, She was also the first woman to kayak the Amazon river from source to sea. Needless to say, she is a pretty cool chick. Brad has been on a few trips with her, and was keen to kayak with her company in Bhutan. Not long after he signed up for the trip he got an email from HVO about volunteering in Bhutan for the month of December. Considering he got off the river November 29, we felt as if the volunteering was meant to be and it slowly became a reality. Kids and I leave Thursday, spend 3 days in Bangkok and then onto Paro, Bhutan. The landing in Paro is considered by many to be "terrifying" . Stong winds whip through the valleys often resulting in severe turbulance. In 2011 only 8 pilots were qualified to land there. This information as well as the Worldwide travel alert that the State Department put out a few days ago, has made me drink way to much wine these past few nights. I am looking forward to being back in Brads arms at the airport, for not only a hug, but also a good punch in the arm for not telling me about the airplane landing details.