Thimphu is reputedly the only capital city in the world with no traffic lights. For a very brief time it did at the only intersection in the city that would warrant it. But after protests from the locals, they were removed and the policemen standing in a central pedestal was reinstated, hand signals and all. Old school!
After a brief visit to the 15th century Changankha Monastery, where we were taught about the infamous Buddhit mantra “Om Mani Padme Hum” written on all prayer wheels we would see in Bhutan.
(The “Padme” bit is the inspiration for Padme Amidala in Star Wars.)
Following the tradition, we proceeded to walk around in a clockwise direction and spin the prayer wheels with our right hands. Although we didn’t possess the small ring of beads that all Bhutanese people acquire when they are young and are supposed to rub the beads during every visit, and keep for your entire life!
The Traditional Indigenous Medicines Hospital was an interesting insight into the ancient use of herbs and other native plants and seeds for all sorts of purposes, similar to Chinese medicine.
The Traditional School of Arts and Craft was fascinating to see the making of the “funny looking” silk shoes, sculptures, Buddhist art and loom weaving. It was great to see students keeping the traditional arts and crafts methods alive for generations to come.
The National Library reputedly holds the largest book ever printed in the world. It was BIG! Although, no one is allowed to open it. Most items were texts, scrolls and old books stored behind glass to keep them safe.
Found a very rare ATM on the street, which looked more like an old open telephone booth.
Then it was visit to the Memorial Stupa, built in memory of the late third kind of Bhutan. It must have been a special day, since the place was filled with worshippers all chanting and encircling the stupa clockwise with their beads and spinning “toy looking things”.
Quite a bit to cram into a whole morning!
Visited 25th October 2013.