Friday, August 06, 2010
Back to Bhutan!
Remember when I asked you to keep your fingers crossed for something to turn out in my favour? Well, it worked!
I can now announce that I'm going to spend the fall in Bhutan!
I liked the place so much as a tourist and I knew I'd get myself back somehow. When I visited last November, I was very inspired by the cultural tourism experience and I got the idea about creating an illustrated cultural map of the capital city, Thimphu, since there is not much currently available in the way of tourist literature. Yes, all international tourists must have guides but for various reasons, I believe a well made, well researched map would enhance the city experience. I envision a hand-sketched map drawn by a local artist for a unique Bhutanese appearance. I have lots of ideas - my concept is especially influenced by Nancy Chandler's famous travelers' maps of Thailand which include way-finding info as well as cultural notes and local tips. The project would combine three of my passions: urban interpretation, maps and Asian tourism.
It was through this blog post that I first connected with Aby, a journalism consultant who lives in Thimphu. It turned out that the company he works for was interesting in publishing a map like the one I described, so, that company sponsored a request for a visa to bring me in as a consultant. It was a very long process and I tried to keep my hopes in check because I knew approval was not definite. I owe him a lot of thanks for taking care of the six months worth of paperwork required to get a visa issued for me. This morning, that visa was granted!
I wrote earlier that I had to move out of my apartment for August 15th. That was simply fortuitous timing. As for resigning from my job, it was a calculated risk. I hope to get myself sorted out and on course to arrive in Bhutan on August 18th or 20th (no DrukAir flights from BKK on Thursdays this month!). I've got multiple pages of to-do lists to get me ready for moving out, leaving my job and setting up for a season in a very different place. The lists keep me from feeling totally overwhelmed!
The one downer to this big adventure is that I'm going to miss my cousin's wedding in September. I wish the timing could have worked out better in that respect but luckily I have very understanding family members.