Goodbye Bhutan

After almost a month spending time in this small and charming country of Bhutan, the time has finally come for me to say goodbye to this amazing country. Even though I didn’t stay too long here in Bhutan, I managed to learn a lot while being in this country. When I looked at the world map during my childhood days, I always wonder what kind of country it is when I see Bhutan, stucked between 2 great empires, China and India. I have thousands of questions just by looking at it. How does the Bhutanese looks like, what language do they speak, how do they live their lives and what kind of landscape furnish the country. Now after being here, explored deep into the mountains and see the city life of its capital, thousands of those questions were answered. A month is definitely not enough to really understand the country. Its only an introduction, nothing more. A month is not enough for the locals here to recognize me as their own, they still see me as a tourist, a foreigner. Even though many times the locals in the mountains and villages thought that I’m one of their own because of my look and the way I eat, but I still dont speak their language.

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When I was travelling from Malaysia all the way to central Kazakhstan, it was amazing to see how culture and the look of the people change, slowly… the transition from the brown people of Malays all the way to the Russians. From pure brown people of Malays who live in the Malaysian peninsula, people start to change very slowly when I travelled north. Once I crossed into the Thai border, they still have brown skin tone but the language starts to change. The sound of the language is somehow a bit like Malay mix with Chinese. Their eyes become slightly smaller, more like a mixture between the Malays and the Chinese. The further north I went, the sound of the language change again, into Vietnamese or Laotian, their eyes become smaller and the skin become fairer, yellowish. The further north I proceeded, I started to hear the Chinese language and the people has pure yellow skin tone. Crossed into the far north of China, the people starts to have bigger size body proportion, probably because of the colder weather and their food intake. Crossing into the Central Asian border of Kyrgyzstan or Kazakhstan, they still have yellowish skin tone and small eyes, but their hair becoming blonde and they speak Mongol-Turkic group of language. The further north I proceeded, their skin becoming white and I started to hear they speak Russian. Its amazing to see how the characteristic of people change from place to place, just like how you see the slow changes of trees from sea level all the way to high altitude land.

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I also have seen the transition between the Chinese and the Turkish, by observing the changes slowly between Uighurs, Kazakh, Kyrgyz and Tajiks. I could feel the mixture of the look, the culture and language between Turkish and Chinese by observing the people of Central Asia. But I always have this question, how is the transition like between the Chinese and the Indians. They look very different to my eyes and the language is so different. And here in Bhutan, I finally get the feel of it. The unique culture of Bhutan is somehow like a mixture between the two great civilization, Chinese and Indians. Sometimes, their language sounds Chinese to me, sometimes it sounds like Mongol and sometimes, it also sounds like Hindi. I even asked my guides while they were talking to each other, “are you guys speaking the same language all these while?”. Their look and their characteristic also seems like in between… even the music they listen to! I always find it amazing how this earth is populated by so many different races of people. I have yet to see the transition between Asians and Caucasians. Ural… a mountain range located in the middle of Russia, I heard thats where the transition starts for these two great human races. I hope that one day I will live long enough to witness that transition by putting myself in the Ural mountain range… “insyallah”, like what Tshering always said to me.

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To my eyes, Bhutan is really developing fast into becoming one of the greatest country. They’re the only country in the world with not only carbon zero, but carbon negative emission country. They produced very minimal, emitting around 1.5 million tonnes of carbon annually from their factories etc, but their forest absorbs 4 times that amount. Their government is very careful on that, they care for each single tree in the country. They even take care of their tradition, allowing only a certain numbers of tourists coming to the country each year, to preserve their tradition and way of life. They care most about quality rather than quantity. Each Bhutanese soul is rich with the Buddha teachings. My friend Tshering for example, is very determined to reach the Nirvana, the enlightenment. Concentrating on the GNH (Gross National Happiness) rather than the GDP, they really takes care of every Bhutanese soul. They want everyone to live happily in the country. They care more about the time spent with their family rather than material possession. The average income per person jumped to USD1600 per person from USD400 monthly in just 7 years. The government is currently building roads now to connect all the villages in the country. Almost every Bhutanese, surprising even the nomads in the high mountain can at least have basic conversation in English. With all these, I cant wait to see how Bhutan will look like in 5 years. If both the government and the people keep having good relation with each other, soon they will be as good as Singapore or even Japan. They love their king, the prince charming of Himalayas, who is both very traditional yet highly educated. I almost had the chance to meet their Prime Minister, to shake his hand and have a short and good conversation with him, but too bad it was too last minute and he has a very tight schedule. But there is always a next time. I plan to visit this country again, probably after a year or two, see if I can have the opportunity to travel the country with its new road with my two wheels, cycling from end to end of Bhutan.

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22 Comments on “Goodbye Bhutan

  1. Tahniah wahai pengembara yg saya kagumi.
    Terima kasih atas perkongsian pengembaraan anda yang sangat saya kagumi.

  2. You’re a few lucky guys hv the opportunity to see that part of the world…great zahariz!

  3. I’m a little jealous! My biggest regret was not going travelling like this

  4. Thank you so much Zahariz for this wonderful account of your time in Bhutan. I’ve read every post and enjoyed them all very much. Your photography is exceptional, and your story telling most captivating. Where are you off to next?
    Alison

  5. Tahniah Tuan…semoga kembara itu mendapat perlindungan Allah SWT sepanjang masa. Belum takdir lagi kita boleh berjumpa.

  6. A very interesting travel log, thankyou for the read!

  7. Thank you for sharing your account of Bhutan. Truly insightful as it gives a big picture of the country. I love the way you tell your story, especially how you noted the change of features from Malays to Russians. So proud to have Malaysians such as yourself wandering around the world :)

  8. Wonderful post! Very insightful. One day I will have a blog as wonderful as yours.

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