Followers of the slow movement make haste to Bhutan, where time stretches with the meditative sound of temple bells and success is gauged by a Gross National Happiness index.

The “Dragon Kingdom” lies at the Himalaya’s eastern end, landlocked between China and India. That geographical isolation, explains Varya Simpson, a Berkeley, California-based Virtuoso advisor, helped keep the country’s thousand-year-old society intact. “Bhutan was never a European colony, so the Western architecture and culture that have seeped into much of Indochina and India are not found there. What you experience are indigenous Buddhist traditions that were channeled from Tibet and maintained over time.”

Simpson, a former Fulbright scholar to India and lecturer in Asian Studies, says visitors find a surprise around every Bhutanese corner, “from an old monk performing a fire ritual to maroon-robed boys giggling over their begging bowls and sudden views of snowcapped mountains above verdant hillsides.” She recommends that visitors time their travels with one of the country’s numerous cultural events, such as the Ura Yakchoe Festival.

The Ogyen Choling Museum, a preserved estate house in Bumthang’s Tang Valley, offers insight into life in the kingdom a century ago. Visitors can climb rickety ladders and examine old artifacts that Simpson describes as “falling apart, but wonderful.” The site is even more endearing as urban growth begins to tear at the unified fabric of Bhutanese culture, adding to the urgency of visiting now. 

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