Living in Bhutan – 8 Months Now!

Living in Bhutan – 8 Months Experience

Living in Bhutan has been a fantastic experience so far. I cannot believe that it has already been 8 months since I arrived at the Land of the Thunder Dragon!

I have experienced so much living here, and I am so happy that we have been enjoying and adapting well to our lives in such a different place.

Treks in Bhutan: The Owl Trek-Vila de Dhur

Living in Bhutan – Challenges

Bhutan is another world. The country almost completely skipping the industrial revolution, so anything and everything you need must be imported. This brings prices up quite a lot on pretty much anything at all.

Do you like spicy food? Well, you will get plenty of that in Bhutan! People here seem not to know the concept of spice, so everything is mouth burning! But after a while you get used to it!

The main challenges so far, for me, is to deal with the easy going nature of the Bhutanese… too easy going, if you ask me! Anything that you need sorted, if you are lucky and extremely insistent, will take months to get resolved. This is quite annoying when you have been raised on a sense or urgency for anything!

I have been blessed with the opportunity to come to this amazing place, but by God, it is not easy!

Living in Bhutan – Rewards

As some of you know, I am a teacher. Teaching in Bhutan, to the demographics I am currently teaching, is one of the most beautiful things in the world. I have been teaching children from a disadvantaged background and it has been extremely difficult, but even more rewarding.

Treks in Bhutan: The OWL Trek-Rhododendron

Bhutan is almost untouched. The main advantage of having skipped the industrial age is that the country’s wildlife and nature are still barely touched. Everywhere you look, there are trees, birds etc. It is a paradise for outdoorsy people! Recently, I read about a trek on Mochilao a Dois, called “Bumthang Owl Trek” (click to read more!). It is great trek, full of rhododendrons along the way.

Treks in Bhutan: The OWL Trek-on the way to Drange La Pass

There are many more experiences to share, but I will keep them for future posts! Thanks for stopping by!

Beer Economics Review: DadoBier Ilex

Who doesn’t like beer? And even more, who doesn’t like caffeine? Mix the two together and you should get an amazing beverage, right? Well, not so much. I will try to explain why.

DadoBier is the first brazilian microbrewery. It’s located in the mid-latitude city of Porto Alegre, in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul. The state prides itself for having the best wine in Brazil and, well, they have the climate for it! Also for making beer, since the southern region of the country is the largest producers of barley.

The state is the second largest producer and the largest consumer of a commodity called Erva-Mate, or just Mate. It’s a herb which is mainly used for tea and has a high caffeine content. If you walk around the city of Porto Alegre, you will see hundreds of people drinking the stuff wherever they go. Think that the British are big tea drinkers? The Gauchos (natives from the state) would put them to shame. Brazil itself is not a big tea drinking country, but the Gauchos consume a whooping 10kg of Mate per capita per year, which puts them ahead of Turkey, the biggest tea drinking country in the world (at 7.32kg/pc/py).

But I digress. So thinking that having the climate and ingredients for a good beer would give them an edge? Well, not so much. Adding a bit of their favourite drink to the beer? That didn’t work so well. Now add that beer to their custom made Cuia-shaped glass? Well, that’s the recipe to get flat and bland beer. In their novelty glass, I couldn’t pour the beer and take a photo fast enough for the head to hold shape. The beer is ok, but the flavour changes quite a bit very quickly, most likely due to oxidation due to the lack of the protecting head.

I have brewed with tea before and I am not sure the techniques they used to add the mate to the brew, but I can say that they were unsuccessful.

Now for the price. The average citizen of Rio Grande do Sul is better off than the average Brazilian. The beer is slightly expensive, at R$14 (£4) for a pint, it is still quite expensive for the local working man. But as it so happens to microbreweries in Brazil, producers manage to keep the clientele very selected. You can find Dadobier online, if you so choose, but most places are out of stock and, in Porto Alegre, one of the few places where you can find the beer is at their restaurant. This leads to you buying overpriced food with it. So, again, just like with Amazon Beer, if you are not part of the elite or pseudo-rich, this beer can be seen as something you can treat yourself to in a special occasion.

Knowing how much it takes to produce beer and having most of the ingredients locally available, overpricing beer that isn’t all that good seems to be the thing to do nowadays. Microbrewers in Brazil are having a field day with the new middle class!

Travelling in Group: A Dictatorship of the Minority

I love travelling in every way possible. I like to think of myself as a very tolerant and easy-going person, but when it comes to travelling in a group, it can be quite difficult at times (most of the time, actually).

I am so glad I learnt this early in my life and have avoided a lot of hardship. I cringe listening to the horror stories my friends tell me, so I will unite their stories and my own to write this outline of travelling in group!

Maybe I need to explain myself. It’s easier to go through the entire experience from the very beginning.

  1. Organization Pre Travel

Everyone loves to travel! A lot of us love travelling with the family and friends, but it is hardly a smooth business. Deciding on where to go is easier with the friends, as usually we just want to find a place to have a good time. When travelling with family, usually a couple of generations are involved, so the interests can be completely different. I like to organize my own trip, look for the tickets myself, hotels etc. When travelling with family, everyone wants to take the easy way out: Package deals, have the whole trip handed to them. Nobody wants to take the time to organize something according to their taste, so a brochure with several destinations is picked and a they are sorted out for you. Ah well… there is no discussion. Usually the person who is unwilling to be flexible gets their way, so the destination will be set for you.

  1. Getting to the Airport And Boarding the Plane

Three hours before the flight. That’s the rule. Check-in and security queues, trips to the shops etc. Since we are travelling together, we all must go through these steps together also. Good luck with that! One person will always arrive one hour before the flight and everything becomes highly chaotic. Rushing through security, shouting to guards to let us through because the flight is about to leave. By the time we board the plane, a couple of people are not talking to each other already. The person who was late and caused all the problems ALWAYS says: “We made it alright, didn’t we? You worry too much”, as if the last hour of running and screaming didn’t happen!

  1. Arriving at Your Destination

Keeping the group together is an almost impossible task. Every 5 minutes, someone is lost to shops without letting anyone know. Before reaching the hotel, hours have been wasted just trying to get there. Everyone is hungry, but the need to tour every shop in the airport is much greater.

Hotel check-in done and everyone reaches their room, time to go and get something to eat! Everyone is hungry. Let’s meet outside the hotel in 20 minutes, shall we? Get a quick bite to eat and go for a walk. Then 20 minutes pass by, 30, 40, 60, 90 and usually the same person who arrived late at the airport is not down. What in the name of the Lord is that person doing? Straightening his/her hair, make-up, bath… then it is the job we know will cause problem: Who is the brave person that will knock on the door and tell the person to get on with it? Yeah, nobody wants that! Just another drama. During this time, the whole group decided to go to a particular, very well recommended restaurant for dinner. Finally, the person of the hour arrives and the decision goes down the drain. This is a daily occurrence.

This is when I, as an individual, throw everything out of the window and go my own way.

  1. Deciding Where to Go, a Daily Challenge

Usually being package deals, one may think that everyone will go to the same place. Since there are times set to go, noone will be left at the hotel. Ah, some people won’t wake up, but this time they will be left behind. You will be cursed for doing so! Because “real groups stick together”… but when together, these people just wander off into shops and expect everyone to say amen.

  1. Days Off: What To Do When Someone Didn’t Organized it For You?

This is a wasted day. Only the prepared will thrive. This is travelling natural selection at its best! As no-one knows what to do, everyone will behave like headless chickens and a consensus won’t be reached. This is the time I recommend everyone to just announce “See you guys later” and do your own thing, whatever that is.

  1. Conclusions?
  2. Why a Dictatorship?

    • The ONE person will get one’s dream destination;
    • Their behaviour is not wrong and fail to empathize;
    • The group abides to their rule to maintain the peace;
    • Their daily faults, in the end, will be YOUR fault somehow;
    • No-one is prepared for the future, when the system crumbles when the brain behind the operation deserts them.

Travelling with family and friends can be a very enjoyable experience with a lot of cool stories that will, in time, become funnier and funnier. Just make sure to pick out the bad seeds from the get go! Ignoring someone, sometimes, is not an act of selfishness!

Or just meet them on the road, going to the same place as you! That always works too!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Relic

This week photo challenge is Relic.

Even though the relic itself cannot be photographed, it was one that moved me, I must say!

For a brief history, Thierry de Alsace, Count of Flanders, built a chapel. Shortly after, he went on the Second Crusades and brought back with him a vial containing the blood of Jesus Christ, collected by Joseph of Arimathea during the crucifixion. For just under 1000 years, this relic has been revered by million.

I am not a religious person, but every time I stop by Bruges, I visit the Basilica to pay my respects to this very moving ancient relic.

Believe it or not about the truth of its content, well, just appreciate how old it is!

Johnstown Castle, Wexford – Ireland

A little taste of home! Johnstown Castle is a beautiful example of the many amazing castles around Ireland! Cycling there for an afternoon picnic is one of the best way to spend the day! The castle has an amazing, well-maintained garden, really beautiful (today the castle is home to the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine) I miss the beauty of Ireland!