This is the land of cheese, chillies, chanting and – on our final day – choppers. There are two of them in Bhutan and the one we got was brand spanking new and totally awesome. John had been asking to see pictures of helicopters on our phones since we arrived so the prospect of not only seeing a REAL one in the flesh but actually FLYING in was wee-wee inducing. Here he is sitting waiting for it with his lollipop, pointing at the direction it’s going to come from.
The helipad is right next to the local school’s playing field and it was their annual sports day on the day we flew. This meant that there were loads of families hanging around.
This wasn’t so great for John John who’s generally manhandled like he’s some sort of lucky mascot: big crowds mean max hassle. I managed to get a shot of someone actually chasing him hoping for a selfie and a squeeze. Poor little sausage, he really hates it.
Fortunately for John, our chopper landed and was immediately the star attraction. Everyone descended and starting stroking it. There’s probably a winning 100m sprinter from Gangtey High that will harbour a lifelong hatred of helicopters after being so rudely upstaged.
We had a very professional (read: surly and humourless) pilot who really appreciated (read: utterly detested) our kids boundless and vocal enthusiasm for being in a helicopter. He turned the comms right down about 5 minutes after takeoff, the spoilsport: anyone that can’t handle four children screaming pretty much solid is just a great big wuss-pilot. On the contrary, I often impel my kids to scream a bit harder in my ear, I love it so. At this point, I think I entered a catatonic state, being a bit scared of heights as well as possessed of a pair of functioning ears. I’d make a terrible Victoria Beckham: just can’t hack the jetset ting.
Again, what strikes you about Bhutan’s scenery is how amazingly lush and green it is. It was the first thing I noticed and will be my lasting impression. It’s not the arid and rocky mountainous kingdom you would imagine for a Himalayan Buddhist country.
Getting back to Paro, where we began our Bhutanese adventure, was a bit like coming home. What a great place. Two weeks was absolutely perfect and one week wouldn’t have been enough. The only regret is that we didn’t get to Bumthang, but you can’t have it all. It’s enough to know that such a place exists. I’ve been chuckling about it for a fortnight. Bhutan Clan Forever.