Bowled Over by Bhutan - 2007

In most of his talks with us about the government, Kelzang described the kings of the

country as rulers with the good of the people always at heart. He approved the

government’s avuncular role (maybe even paternalistic) in creating laws that protect

the people from mistakes and harm, such as forbidding the housing of livestock on the

lower floor of their homes as was the practice in the past and in forbidding the top attic

floor being used as a hayloft because of fire risk. He liked the fact that government

requires childhood vaccinations (as well as paying for them) to prevent disease in the

population. He was very much in favor of the government control of logging in the

country, for the preservation of the virgin forests and the valuable trees for all the


He was much in accord with the king’s requirement that all returning students who

have been studying in other countries participate in a reorientation program so that they

will not forget the traditions and practices of their own country. He even professed himself

to be comfortable with the royal decree that Bhutanese men and women wear their

national dress when acting as representatives of the country, even in casual ways.

Probably his view is shared by most of the people who will feel more confident if the

king continues to make the big decisions that affect the welfare of his people—their

Gross National Happiness—at least for a while longer. We had 10 days to explore this

happy and beautiful country and we wanted to see everything possible during that time.

We climbed to monasteries sitting out on rocky precipices, struggled spraddle-legged

across many swinging bridges, climbed awkward stiles, remove our shoes to enter

temples and their sacred domains, sampled the fiery Bhutanese specialties

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