Nearly not getting into Bhutan …

It is 4.15 in the morning. Bangkok Airport.

We are lined up in front of the Druk Air counter. We have waited three decades for this moment.

We step up to the counter.

“Your visa please?”


Looking around I suddenly realise that all the other travellers are holding printed A4 visas (my precioussss) but we, the Hogan family, have nothing.

“The visa you must have to enter Bhutan.”

“I thought that was handled by the tour operator.”

“Well it is, but our system is down. They would have sent you a copy.”

“Well I don’t think they have.”

“Well you can’t get on the plane without it.”

“Wanna bet?” I actually said that bit in my head but it was true, there was no way, after thirty years and many thousands of pre-paid tour dollars, that we weren’t getting on that plane. I won’t tell you what Steve said.

The panic starts to set in. While all the other passengers swan on through, we are politely asked to step to the side and I am sent to the naughty corner aka the business centre to try to access my hotmail. I know it’s a total waste of time. I’ve been unable to access my hotmail account all week in Thailand and Cambodia. Hotmail is insisting on sending us a verification text but the phone isn’t set up for international calls.

I don’t cry…

until the final call when the reality hits … “we’re not going to Bhutan”.

Only then do the tears well up. Big time. And one of the family who shall remain nameless, says “Don’t get upset” which are the three words that you absolutely don’t want to hear when you want to get very, very upset.

And then suddenly, somewhere in that bleary, teary, airport early morning deadzone and 20 minute nightmare, the system miraculously resuscitates its way back to life and there are our visas.

“You can go to Bhutan now.

“As you wish.”

I won’t tell you what we really said 😉

So here are some first impressions that we nearly not got …

Flying into Paro Airport…
As I mentioned in the previous post only 16 people are qualified to fly into the Paro airport. It’s pretty hairy. One of the main architectural features throughout Bhutan are the dzongs (fortresses). The Paro dzong is the big red roofed structure bottom left.

paro valley from the air

The national sport of Bhutan.
Note to self: Don’t stand taking photos when the boys are throwing in your direction.


Penjo our guide takes us to lunch by the river. Don’t mind the marijuana, it’s the national weed of Bhutan – literally.

marijuana growing wild

penjo our guide

penjo, steve and darcy
(Late edit: I just realised you could be forgiven for thinking that Darce is stoned off his head in the photo above. He’s not. Bad photo positioning on my part 🙂 )

Textures and colour
It’s called falling in love at first sight.

first impressions bhutan

The Paro Dzong
The pictures really speak for themselves …

Paro Dzong

Monk at Paro Dzong

But nothing quite prepares you for the explosion of intricate detail inside the courtyard …

paro dzong interiorparo dzong detail

paro dzong detail bhutan

paro dzong interior bhutan

paro dzong detail

monk in paro dzong

There you have it. The nearly not first day in Bhutan.

If anyone can enlighten me on the art of using hotmail overseas or how you manage your emails and phones I’d be grateful.  x

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    1. Posted 31 January 2015 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

      Your images of Bhutan are extraordinary. I visited a few years ago and the memory of this beautiful place is forever etched. I use a travelling ‘server’ called Mail2Web. I just type in my email and password and get to my email in box. It’s free. Have fun MMxx

      • Marg
        Posted 31 January 2015 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

        Thanks Mary. It’s one of those places that stays with you. Morocco and China have got me the same way. Thanks for the Mail2Web tip. Tucked away for next time. x

    2. Helen Bergen
      Posted 31 January 2015 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

      Absolutely stunning images. Thanks so much for sharing.

      • Marg
        Posted 31 January 2015 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

        Thanks Helen. x

    3. Margaret Andersson
      Posted 31 January 2015 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

      Absolutely stunning photo’s Marg 🙂

      • Marg
        Posted 1 February 2015 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

        Thanks Margaret. It’s a photographer’s paradise.

    4. Posted 1 February 2015 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

      Marg, Amazing, amazing, amazing. Your images are stunning all worth the stress at the airport. I would buy your book on Bhutan xxx

      • Marg
        Posted 1 February 2015 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

        I hadn’t planned on writing one Germana but now, there’s an idea lol 🙂

    5. harrie
      Posted 1 February 2015 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

      fabulous X

      • Marg
        Posted 1 February 2015 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

        Good place for ugly drawings hey Haz.

    6. Tracey Carpenter
      Posted 1 February 2015 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

      thanks Marg – beautiful

      • Marg
        Posted 2 February 2015 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

        Cheers Trace.

    7. Posted 2 February 2015 at 6:10 am | Permalink

      Oh my I could feel your tears. What amazing pictures as always. And the national weed. Happiness indeed.
      Happy for you!

      • Marg
        Posted 2 February 2015 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

        Just doing what we can to spread a bit of Gross National Happiness abroad x

    8. Posted 3 February 2015 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

      Oh my goodness, I would’ve been sick to my stomach too!!! So glad it worked out in the end. What an incredible, incredible place. I’d love to visit one day.

      • Marg
        Posted 4 February 2015 at 9:10 am | Permalink

        Me too Krista. 😐 You’d love it. So so peaceful.

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