Sunday, November 29, 2009

Bhutan: Getting to Paro

If you have wired your full payment to your licensed tour company, secured a seat on one airline's tiny fleet and been granted visa clearance by the Royal Government after weeks of uncertainly, you may find yourself here on the tarmac of Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport, giddy with excitement.

I could not BE more excited.

The city sprawl of Bangkok and the symmetrical rice paddies of Thailand will side away below, as will the river deltas of Myanmar and the flat, open fields of India. Even though you expect to pass by Mount Everest and other Himalayan peaks, it is still a shock to actually see them.

Everest, closer and cloudier


After three hours, you'll get a clear glimpse of your destination: one runway trapped between rocky slopes. At first, it seems as though you're passing right by the airstrip, since you get a full side view. This is because the pilot is preparing for three very hard banks and a steep decent. You will begin to marvel at how it is that this is the only place in the country flat enough to land a jet plane.

Approaching Paro Valley

And so you descend with three steep rolls around the hills and a very quick straightening up.

You're here! You're really here!


Not only that, but you discover a rare thing: an airport that might be described as attractive.

PBH Airport

But before you're even out of view of that charming mini airport, the plane that brought you in has turned around and taken off again. You're not sad to see it go because within minutes of your arrival, you already suspect that you never want to leave.


greg said...

Wonderful! I hope you intend to document your whole trip with this level of detail.


Suzy said...

Wonderful photos and video. You're right. It really may be the only airport you don't want to leave. At least it looks that way from your photos and videos.

Berniemack Arellano said...

Lovely! The approach is challenging, even for seasoned pilots who are used to wide-open approaches of major cities.

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