In an increasingly interconnected world facilitated by technology and communications, the effects of globalisation has had a profound affect in bridging distance and assimilating even the most far flung reaches. It is no longer a shock to find Coca Cola in rural Vietnam, Accenture in Tashkent, or Manchester United supporters in the African bush.
The remote kingdom of Bhutan, nestled between China and India – between sweeping subtropical plains and sub-alpine Himalayan heights – is a country that feels out-of-sync with the rest of the world. Resistant in preserving a rich and unique cultural heritage. As frequent flyers we have seen many countries, cultures, faces (and airports), yet Bhutan’s largely unspoiled natural environment and cultural heritage really appealed to our sense of curiosity and adventure.
From flying over rugged mountain ranges, to the Amankora Hotel’s softly sloping grounds, flowing streams and unhindered views of towering snow capped peaks, it’s a destination offering tranquil isolation with a focus on holistic wellbeing. You won’t find a swimming pool at the Amankora, rather it’s idyllic and isolated location encourages outdoor activity, trekking to holistic healing.
The Amankora hotel, our base for the duration of our Bhutan trip, was situated in a secluded location a short drive outside of the small town of Paro, in the shadow of the sacred cliffside Taktsang Palphug Monastery (also known as the Tiger’s Nest). Despite it’s remote locale we found it to be a peaceful yet luxurious retreat, offering space for reading, meditation and pensive thought alongside delicious fusion cuisine and authentic health,beauty and massage treatments.
Despite the sanctuary of the Amankora complex, the surrounding evergreen pine forests and glacial river valleys continually drew us out of the hotel confines. From cycling, hiking and interacting with locals, we witnessed the symbiotic relationship between the Bhutanese people and their environment. As a major contributor to gross national happiness, the population are actively concerned in preserving the countries natural landscape and biodiversity in confluence with the preservation of national identity, with nearly 56.3% of Bhutanese involved with agriculture, forestry and conservation. Cycling through beautiful forests and visiting local craftspeople hand weaving vivid patterns into lush silks was truly inspiring.
As a country blessed with an abundance of dramatic inclines and towering mountain peaks, a trip to Bhutan would perhaps not be complete without a high altitude experience. Conveniently stationed in the shadow of the famous Tiger’s Nest monastery, located at 10,240ft above the Paro Valley, our journey into the Tiger’s Nest was a demanding full day trek, far away from our relaxing ground-level experiences. Despite this, the exhausting nature of hiking over steep, untamed terrain was counterbalanced by the awe inspiring views amongst tranquil nature and punctuated by wildlife and abundant greenery.
Upon reaching the summit, after hours of both overcoming and admiring the landscape, we felt a sense of calm by both our accomplishment and at our serene surroundings. As a sacred site credited as the birthplace of Buddhism in Bhutan, it is occupied by monks to this day. Quietly absorbing and observing the monks performing their daily ritual was a unique insight, and we were grateful to have the opportunity to experience a countries proud cultural and religious traditions so viscerally. It was at times like this in our trip, returning to our hotel exhausted, that we were relieved to be welcomed warmly by the wonderfully caring, charming and attentive staff at the Amankora hotel. they deserve a special mention for their professional efforts in facilitating a fulfilling and restful stay.
As we sat on the plane preparing to fly back home, we couldn’t help but look forward to re-connecting after a week without signal outside our hotel. Upon reflection, this revealed to us what a privilege our trip to Bhutan had been. We had both the space and time to relax reflect and reconnect, to return to our noisy lives sufficiently energised, reattuned and inspired. A rare luxury not many are afforded.