Nearly 10 years ago, Paul, my fiance at the time, and I spent the summer traveling India and Nepal between leaving Korea where we met, and Hong Kong where we were going to build our lives. He had a job lined up as a kindergarten teacher when we arrived in Hong Kong, and I was hopeful I would find one upon landing, after months of unsuccessful attempts from abroad. Although we had saved a considerable amount of money in the 6 months leading up to our departure, the future was uncertain, and India felt like an appropriate place to slum it backpacking for a few months.
And backpack we did. It was both the most challenging and rewarding experience I have ever endured. Amid outrunning the monsoon, navigating the passenger and “first class” Indian train system, and countless run ins with “dangerous” monkeys, not to mention the constant fear of bedbugs, food poisoning, and being groped, raped, murdered, or kidnaped, we dreamt of an escape to the world’s happiest place. Just a hop, skip and jump away, tucked waaay far away up in the majestic Himalayas, was Bhutan.
Bhutan was opened to the public in 2008, and this being only 2011, made it difficult to find much of any sort of information about this magical place, except for the fact that it was $1,000 each for a 3 hour flight each, plus a minimum spend per person per day. The unemployed pragmatist in me decided this was untenable, so we nixed it and continued our journey north.
There’s always been a tinge of regret for prioritizing budget over opportunity, and after Paul’s passing (now almost two years ago), this monumental trip through India and Nepal was right back there, just beneath my skin.
This trip to Bhutan isn’t one to recapture any of that time or to try to compensate for a missed opportunity. That time in my life is over, but lessons it left me with in humanity and certainly in loss persist. Life is fragile. Emotion, or dare I say soul, is what drives us to sustain amid such trying times, despite, or perhaps because of, circumstance.
So the circumstance presented itself and here I go. Covid-19 be damned. I’m going to climb some mountains in the world’s happiest mother-fucking place.
Like the Wall Street Journal says, “It’s more than an approach. It’s an arrival.” So here we go.
But first, Bangkok!