WHICH WOULD YOU CHOOSE?
On the left is a secret natural pool on the most extraordinary island in the Mediterranean – Malta. On the right is the Tiger’s Nest Monastery in a hidden Tibetan Kingdom in the Himalayas – Bhutan.
Rebel and I have time to run one more exploration this year – to Malta in October or Bhutan in November. We can’t run both. We’d like to ask you to help us choose – by telling us which you would choose if you had to decide.
I consider Malta the world’s most fascinating island.
Medieval fortresses and walled cities, spectacular baroque architecture, stunning scenery with hidden sea coves in crystal clear cobalt blue water, and of course, the gigantic megalithic temples built so many thousands of years ago – for here is where Western Civilization began.
And luxury resort hotels amidst it all –
Plus, you just hop over the Atlantic pond, scoot just south of Italy, and there you are.
I consider Bhutan to have the world’s most fascinating culture.
Here, pure Tibetan Buddhism known as Tantra is on full display in wall paintings and statues.
This is the Tantric Yab-Yum physical union of Wisdom and Compassion. Wisdom is personified as the deity Samvara with a blue body, four faces, and twelve arms. He embraces his consort of compassion Vajaravarahi.
From our Western perspective, this is as exotic as it gets. It is important to understand that Yab-Yum is considered a sacred act. It is just one example of how Bhutan may stretch our comfort zone to learn ancient ways and practices, giving us a broader perspective on our humanity.
Here, you meet the Brokpa – semi-nomadic yak herders living very traditionally in hidden valleys reachable only by 4WD track. They make their living bartering for what they need with yak milk, yak cheese, and woven yak wool. You may have never lived with a people so basic as the Brokpa. But you will be in touch with a basic humanity as never before.
Bhutanese love to hold sacred dance ceremonies called a Tshechu. We’ll be attending the Black-Necked Crane Tshechu at the Gangtey Gompa (monastery).
You’ll be ensconced in 5-star luxury too – and how about a drink at the Mad Monk Bar?
The bottom line here is that Bhutan is as close as you can get to Shangri-La for real.
It surprised me when I started writing this, that I’ve only had two Glimpses on Bhutan, The Tiger’s Nest and Tantric Bhutan – plus one article from way back in 2004, Saving Shangri-La. Thankfully, the crisis back then has since been resolved in Bhutan’s favor.
Now I’d love to hear your thoughts. Let us know which exploration you would rather go on if you could – and why. Rebel and I really need to decide and you can help. Write to me at [email protected]. I’ll very much appreciate hearing from you!