Sketching Bhutan: The Riches of Slowing Down
After living and traveling in Southeast Asia for more than two years, I was accustomed to always being in places that are crowded, hot, humid, and beautifully chaotic, but when I first stepped off the plane into Paro’s cool, thin air, I realized immediately that Bhutan was different from the Asia I had known. Two weeks traveling there confirmed this first impression: The forests are vast and lush, the air is fresh, the people are curious, and the architecture is distinctive. My journey was truly inspiring, with every valley holding a different surprise, and I am counting the days until I can return.
In preparing for my immersion in the Land of the Thunder Dragon, I took only the essentials: clothes, camera, pens, watercolors, and a fresh sketchbook. The drawings I made there became such a natural extension of the traveling experience that I often didn’t notice I was doing them. As these sketches suggest, I found an extraordinary richness of things to see and absorb—and draw—in Bhutan.
And as I learned once again there, traveling with a sketchbook enhances my experience in a number of ways:
– The world becomes more beautiful and inspiring when I take the time to slow down and really look at it.
– Sketching makes me pause in the moment and pay attention to the details.
– I am constantly engaged with the landscape and the culture as I look for the next distinctive subject to draw.
– I make friends with locals who are always curious to see me drawing.
– Sketches make great gifts on the road. They’re a great way to give back to the community in a small way.
– Sketching provides a way to stay entertained that won’t stop because the battery died.
– My travel companions are excited about the drawings too. Art helps inspire them to see the world with fresh eyes as well.
– When I return home, I have a great book of memories and experiences that I can look back on and share with my friends and family.
I hope these sketches suggest the riches of slowing down and drawing to you, too!
Above: The cliff-clinging Taktsang Lhakhang, or Tigers’ Nest.
Above: The first king of Bhutan, Ugyen Wangchuck.
Above: Dancer at the Paro tshechu (festival).
To get ideas for travel in the Land of the Thunder Dragon, explore GeoEx’s Bhutan journeys.