Midwife in the cave

By Dorji Bidha, a Bhutanese culture and trekking guide, and Bhutan Homestay host in Drukgyel, Paro. In the following contribution Dorji shares her grandmother’s personal memories about child birth in her village. Giving Birth in a Bhutanese Village My grandmother, Jum Tso Lham, is said to be the ultimate source of strength of each person in our village. During the 1960s, she helped almost every single pregnant woman giving birth in our village. In those days pregnant women in Bhutan … Read More

Bhutanese Names and Name Giving

By Dorji Bidha, a Bhutanese culture and trekking guide, and Bhutan Homestay host in Drukgyel, Paro. The following is her personal account on name giving traditions in her village. Like names anywhere in the world, Bhutanese names are also given to each person for the purpose of identification. Here in my village we have a bunch of unique names to give, but they differ completely from one generation to the next. Our ancestors had names like Jaku and Jakum (a … Read More

Hike from Khumbu Village to Lowala

By Karma Choden, culture guide and trekking guide The Jhomolhari trek is considered to be the mother of all treks in Bhutan and similarly, I consider Khumbu village hike the mother of all hikes in Phobjikha, a high valley in Wangdue Phodrang district, famous for the black necked cranes from the North who stay here over the winter. Khumbu village merges into three different hikes with different destinations: 1) Khumbu to Lowala 2) Khumbu to Pelela and 3) Khumbu to … Read More

This pandemic and my experience

By Karma Choden, culture guide and trekking guide With the COVID-19 pandemic in the world, people lost their jobs, the economy of countries are in decline, the mental health of every single person is affected and the price of commodities are rising. The spreading of the virus hasn’t slowed down, and while people hope for the vaccines the death rate keeps on increasing. Working together under a great leadership In such hard times, in our small country everyone has come … Read More

Jomolhari base camp: trekking in the time of coronavirus

By Dorji Bidha, a Bhutanese culture and trekking guide, and Bhutan Homestay host in Drukgyel, Paro. The following is her account of Jomolhari trek during her trekking guide training in 2020. Impressive trekking routes throughout the year In Bhutan, the now carbon neutral kingdom where I come from, you will find the famous Snowman Trek. It is considered one of the world’s toughest treks due to its long duration through remote areas of varying altitudes. Nowadays, the route offers an … Read More

Being a homestay host during Corona

By Dorji Bidha, cultural and trekking guide; Drukgyel Farmers and homestay host in Paro The autumn season in Bhutan is quite warm during the daytime but pretty chilly during the morning and evening hours. The vegetable and cereal fields look beautiful and plentiful while farmers eagerly wait for the harvest. Paddy harvest starts by mid-October. During that time, we also dry a variety of crops such as chilies, turnip leaves, slippery gourd, pumpkin, radish, apples, peaches and walnuts. Last year … Read More

Why I am looking forward to receiving foreign guests again

By Kuenzang T. Choeden, cultural tour guide for Bhutan Homestay and homestay host in Yurbi, Lhuentse Thuenlam – our Bhutanese tradition The importance of relationships has now become a lot clearer for most people. That is why I enjoy guiding and hosting foreign guests – to foster relationships which have always been a great pleasure for me. It inspires and pleases me to understand and to get to know someone from a completely different community and culture. Hosting guests is … Read More

Barter System in Bhutan during the Covid-19 Pandemic

By Dorji Bidha (Drukgyel Farmers), also published on Bhutan Network Until the 1980s people throughout Bhutan practiced a barter system. Following the introduction of our currency, the Ngultrum, in 1974 by the RMA (Royal Monetary Authority of Bhutan), shops mushroomed even in remote parts of the country and villagers started shopping as though they were in Walmart. Nevertheless, aside from such business transactions and trade, the Bhutanese still enjoy barter, jetshong as we call it in the National language, Dzongkha. … Read More

The Mysterious Sey “Rauw” Dzong

by Jamyang Lekshey (cultural and trekking guide) If you do the Jomolhari Loop trek and descend after climbing Bonte-La Pass (4902 m), the highest point of the route, you start to walk downstream and eventually reach a small hamlet called Soi Yaksa. Located towards the north of your campsite, one needs to take a detour and hike for about two hours further to reach the mysterious ruins of Sey Dzong. According to oral legend, sometime before the 19th century there … Read More

Ritual and Hospitality

posted in: Bhutan Blog 0

by Ulrike Čokl Photos @Benjamin Hörbe & Ulrike Čokl “Please come for my annual ritual!” I often hear this invitation from Bhutanese friends, and immediately images come to mind of us sharing delicious food and drink while sitting on beautiful wooden floors in a Bhutanese kitchen. I always carry my little cup, phob, with me, ever ready to pull it out, unwrap it from the tora, a piece of cloth, and receive the local welcome drink. Senior villagers, observing my … Read More

Kingdom of Orchids

By Dr. Heiko Hentrich All photos ©Heiko Hentrich Why Bhutan… I am a tropical botanist, who has travelled to many Latin-American countries to do field studies in remote places. As a side benefit of my job, I meet people from different cultures, and I have come to appreciate the opportunity to learn about other ways of life, customs, food, and languages. On my journeys, I usually stay with locals and prefer these private accommodations to hotels, because you learn so … Read More

10 Must See Places in Bhutan

posted in: Travel Specials 0

By Ulrike Cokl (originally written for Gesar Travel) It is truly difficult for me to think of only 10 must-see places and attractions in Bhutan where I have spent so much time over the past 18 years. However, I will try and choose from my long list of things, places and activities that I love, keeping in mind that it is for people who have not been to the Himalayan Kingdom before. 1 Taktsang Gonpa There is no way around … Read More

“The guest of one night is like a god”

By Ulrike Cokl One evening some Bhutanese friends and I were chatting about the charm, warmth and generosity that one experiences when visiting a village home in Bhutan. Most tourists who visit the little kingdom are on a tight schedule, moving from guesthouse to guesthouse, eating the same bland food every day. They are disconnected from local experiences of commensality and conviviality so characteristic for rural life. I decided to think about ways that would allow tourists to experience Bhutanese … Read More

Tashi’s Dream of Bread

posted in: Giving Back 1

For the second time master stove-setter Christof Bader came all the way from Bad Gastein in Alpine Austria to the little Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan. Yet again, the Austrian non-profit association Bhutan Network had planned and organized the building of a bread baking oven together with Bhutanese villagers. The oven will offer a start into new and exciting opportunities around the art of bread baking.  Photography and original text in German by Silvia Schmid “I hope you understand what this … Read More

The Egg-Headed Beast to Rescue

By Needrup Zangpo As the greatly perplexed demon stood before the man muttering to himself ‘this is a fish-bodied, egg-headed pig-like beast’, the man sprang up and thrust his hard penis into its mouth saying, ‘If you don’t know what it is, this is what it is.’ The demon gave a sharp squeal like a pig struck unaware by an arrow and stumbled away with the front teeth smashed in. A group of travellers had just emptied a pot of … Read More

Immortal: The Story of a Bhutanese Bull

By Dendup Chophel This is the story of a beloved bull that lived long before the monstrous Japan made power tillers displaced others of his kind from their position of pride as a Bhutanese farming household’s chief preoccupation. His name was Bjan Ka Zeb (bjan dkar dzerb), named after the white furs that lined his dewlap and brisket. He was bought by my grandmother from a herd of bulls that was put up for sale by cattle traders from the … Read More

Traditional Hospitality and Travelling in Bhutan

“The guest of one night is like a god” Bhutanese proverb By Ulrike Cokl In the Kingdom of Bhutan hospitality permeates every sphere of social life, whether private or public; it infuses (religious) festivals, rituals, rites of passage from birth to death and all kinds of political and social gatherings. From the sharing of food and drinks, singing and dancing, to the exchange of gifts, goods and services, such all-encompassing traditions of hospitality are fundamental to enriching and fostering relationships, thuenlam, at every … Read More