Paro Airport is the only international airport in Bhutan. The airport is
located 4 miles from Paro in a deep valley on the bank of the river
Paro Chhu at an elevation of 7,300 ft. With surrounding peaks as high
as 18,000 ft it is considered one of the world's most challenging
airports, and as of October 2009, only eight pilots in the world were
certified to land at the airport. Flights at Paro are allowed under
visual meteorological conditions only and are restricted to daylight
hours from sunrise to sunset.
Note that it is impossible to make a straight landing approach to the runway.
Our hotel in Paro was situated in rice fields.
Mountain Peaks in Bhutan rise as high as 24,783 feet. The highest mountain pass we rode over was 13,200 feet, and we
were still not at the tree line.
There are no traffic lights in Bhutan. There was one traffic circle with a policeman directing traffic at the main intersection in
the capital city of Thimphu. There is no airport in the capital city.
Most of the national highway system in Bhutan is one lane wide, about the width of most bicycle paths.
Most of Bhutan is forested land. Since the vegetated elevation goes from
2000 feet to 15,000 feet, there is a wide variety of vegetation.
Until 1961, because of the lack of paved roads, travel in Bhutan was by foot or on muleback or horseback. When Nehru
came to Bhutan in 1958, he came by foot.
Much of Bhutan looks like the United States more than a century ago.
Below, buckwheat flower is ground at a water mill.
Right, a handmade wheel barrow.
This is the largest size truck in Bhutan. Almost all goods coming to Bhutan come in via India. There are no railroads, and
since Bhutan is land locked, no ports. There are no roads to China or Tibet.
Walking is the
Housing is quite decent. Much of the housing is constructed from concrete, stone, and mud. This was our second hotel
which was typical of much of the construction in Bhutan.
In rural areas, housing is much simpler. Most of Bhutan has electricity. Indeed, hydro power is Bhutan's number one export.
The kitchen and bathing area is often outside the house. Piped water is everywhere.
Below, Jackie prepares to walk across the second longest swing
bridge in the world. The alternative for motor vehicle traffic is a
bridge several miles down the river.
Shortly after Jackie crossed the bridge, a local carried his pack across the same bridge.