Bhutan Diary: Days 1-3
On Friday, 18 students and 3 staff started their journey to Bhutan. Travelling to Heathrow airport to take our first flight to Abu Dhabi, everyone was ecstatic and when we walked on to the plane we were pleasantly surprised; it was as if we were in first class with entertainment consoles able to impress even tech-savvy teenagers! Arriving in Abu Dhabi after a 7hr flight we weren't tired because of the sheer excitement! The airport itself will be remembered as an experience in itself. We then embarked on our second flight into Kathmandu, this time only 4 hours. By this point we had been travelling for approximately 20hrs and no one had slept more than a few hours - there was much snoring by all.
We decended into Kathmandu at dusk flying through a thick cloud of smog. Kathmandu airport was very stressful and busy with hundreds of people offering taxi services or offering to sell goods. We then arrived at the hotel after a short 20 minute bus journey, by that point we were all looking forward to some food and were all impressed with dinner at the hotel served in a very pretty courtyard around a fire. We then retired to our rooms and slept, ready for a day of exploring the chaotic city of Kathmandu the next day.
We woke up for breakfast at 8:00, slightly weary, to start a full day in Kathmandu. Our first stop of the day was the famous Monkey Temple, which lies atop a hill in the heart of the city. We were told stories about how the city was originally a lake and the temple was the island that rose above the water by our very enthusiastic tour guide. The temple was breathtaking with streams of flags connecting golden domes and monkeys roaming freely around.
The second visit was to Durbar Square the ancient heart of the city. Whilst the architecture has been damaged by the recent earthquake, the scale and grandeur was still very apparent. The final stop was the pilgrim centre of the burial place of the first Buddha, Bodhanath Stupa. This was a great way to end our first full day, but we were all looking forward to our beds.
After a slightly later start and a quick bit of exploring we made our way back to Kathmandu airport ready for our flight to Bhutan! We had all been told of how spectacular this flight would be but it hadn't quite prepared us for being able to make out Everest when looking out of the window. Once we had arrived in what must be the prettiest airport terminal in the world, we began our journey by bus to Thimpu. Now settled into our hotel in Thimpu, we are looking forward to the next few days. Tomorrow we plan to visit temples, see paper being made and go to a festival.
Imy Davies and Henry Chapman