Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Day 1 in Bhutan

At some point during the packing to move to a country I'd only known existed for a month, I received an email from the airline taking me to Bhutan saying that my flight's departure time had been moved up to 6:30 AM. I confirmed the change and continued on with whatever crisis of packing was happening at that time. I completely failed to forward this information on to anyone in Bhutan. As I was sitting at the gate in Bangkok, I realized that I hadn't confirmed that anyone was going to be picking me up, and I only had post office boxes for any of the places that might be expecting me. I sent off an email, put up a Facebook post, and hopped on the plane.
We took off, ate some food, and were informed a couple of hours later that we were making our final approach. At this point I'm stoked to see Bhutan for the first time. It was kinda cloudy and I was in an aisle seat, so I couldn't see much on the descent. The pilot said something about staying on the plane if you were continuing to Paro. After everyone was reloaded, the flight attendant said it was OK for me to move to a window seat.
We took off and all I could see was slums.  Literally as far as my eyes could see. I was trying to figure out how all of my research could have been so wrong. I was positive that I could see more than 700,000 peoples homes from the plane, and that was supposed to be the entire population of Bhutan. As I was slowly figuring out how I was going to explain to people my reappearance in the US significantly sooner than a year, the captain made an announcement about being 20 minutes from the Bhutan border. I found out later that we'd stopped in Calcutta. I am not brave enough to move there. I don't know that I'm even brave enough to go there. It looked rough from the plane. The rest of the flight was beautiful, I'll get the video I took of the last 5 minutes of it posted once I have internet sorted out.
We landed, I breezed through immigration and customs, and grabbed my bags. Since there was no WiFi or phone store in the airport, I went out to see of magically the emails I'd sent at the last possible second had resolved my negligence in making sure that I wasn't stranded in a country I'd never been to. There was no one holding a sign with my name on it, so I found a wall and started to double check that I didn't have an address of anything where someone could find me. As I was doing that, a guy with a name tag that said "Mr. RC" came over and asked if he could help. I said something about being here to work for JSW Law, and he asked if I knew Mr. Michael and Madame Judy. He tried to call Michael, but didn't get an answer. He said he would make sure I got wear I needed to be, and we loaded my bags and took off for Thimphu. The drive was beautiful. We got to Thimphu, sorted out a sim card for my phone, and it came alive with a bunch of people trying to figure out how a 275 pound white guy disappears in a South Asian country with less than 1 million people in it. They found me and fed me and brought me to my awesome apartment.
I'm in Bhutan, and safe. I'll write up another post on the apartment, and shopping. Special thanks to RC for making sure I was safe, and Judy, Michael, Phuntsho, and Stephen for putting up with my inability to plan or stay put while I'm figuring out the plan. Someday I'll learn that I don't actually need to know that things are happening in order for them to be happening.

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