Thai Air News Newsletter from Connectedglobe.com
8 December 2002
 
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This week we visit Bhutan. But first, the latest news from Thai Airways International:
 
THAI Arranges Special Flights During Haj Pilgrimage
 

Thai Airways International Public Limited will arrange 15 special flights to transport Thai Muslims to Makkah in Saudi Arabia to participate in the Haj, a Muslim pilgrimage.

Out of the 15 special flights, THAI will operate 13 flights on the route Hat Yai-Jeddah v.v., and 2 flights on the route Phuket-Jeddah v.v., utilizing Airbus A 300-600 aircraft, serving Thai Muslims who wish to participate in the Haj in Makkah, Saudi Arabia.

Hat Yai - Jeddah v.v.
Flight To: TG 8800: Date - 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 21, 24, 27, 29, and 31 Jan 03
                 TG 8810: Date - 6, 15, and 18 Jan 03

Flight From: TG 8803: Date - 18, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28 Feb 03 and 6, 8, 10 and 12 Mar 03
                      TG 8813: Date - 16, 25, and 27 Feb 03

Phuket - Jeddah v.v.
Flight To:      TG 8804: Date - 20 and 22 Jan 03
Flight From: TG 8807: Date - 2 and 4 Mar 03
 

The specially arranged flights are expected to serve approximately 4,000 Thai Muslim passengers traveling to participate in the Haj.  In order to facilitate passengers' comfort and convenience, THAI has also arranged special ground and inflight services to assist passengers traveling with THAI during this period.

Medical kits and inflight information guides will also be available for Muslim passengers. THAI's crew members onboard have been trained in basic emergency care for the elderly in case special assistance may be needed on board.

 
Gratitude in the Himalayas
The kingdom of Bhutan is determined to retain its peace, tranquility and way of life. As a result, although tourists are welcomed the number is restricted. However, it is worth the effort to make the visit and one of the best descriptions of the experience is the fascinating journal of Hob Osterlund.

Here you will learn that plastic bags are illegal, that The king reports their most important product of the country is "gross national happiness" and that 72% of the kingdom is covered in forests. You should certainly read this account and visit if you can. In the words of Hob Osterlund's guide "time is moving and you are not". Read Hob's account on:
http://www.artist-at-large.com/bhutan.htm
 
Christina's Photos
The old adage "a picture is worth a thousand words" is more true than ever for internet users. Reading text on a screen is harder than reading a printed page but images come across much better on the screen. For this reason I thorougly recommend Christina's wonderful site. Not only does it have some unique pictures of life in Bhutan, it also has pictures from Nepal, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand and Myanmar. In Christina's own words "Enjoy impressions of life - people, scenery and architecture colours, moods and traditions."

Visit as soon as you can and take a look at these stunning photographs now on:
http://www.ontheway.ch/
 
The Ancient Kingdom of Bhutan
Here you have everything about Bhutan from the Bhutan Tourism Corporation. It starts with some History and facts about the country, its people and government, but even this usually dry material is interesting in Bhutan. For example: "Mystery surrounds Bhutan's distant past, as priceless irretrievable documents were lost in fires and earthquakes. In the 8th century CE, Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava or second Buddha) made his legendary trip from Tibet to Bhutan on the back of a flying tigress to subdue the evil spirits who hindered Buddhism".

Interestingly "Bhutan has never had a rigid class system. Social and educational opportunities are not affected by rank or by birth. Bhutanese women enjoy equal rights with men in every respect".

There is a link to a page of Visitor Information which is exceptionally comprehensive and well written and there is a description of possible iteneraries. Since the number of visitors is strictly limited it is advisable to book well in advance (maybe 6 months) and you should budget around $250 a day for your visit. This site is a must for intending visitors and fascinating for anyone who is not familiar with Bhutan. Find it on:
http://www.kingdomofbhutan.com/index.html
 
Bhutan goes global
Well I suppose it had to happen. Depite the sites mentioned above and their inviting and intriguing glimpse of a country insulated from the perils of the 21st century, "progress" has arrived in Bhutan. Here are just a couple of short examples of the sudden change which Bhutan is experiencing, and I can't help feeling its a shame.

"The government of Bhutan has decided to implement major political, social and economic reforms meant to propel the hidden kingdom into the 21st century" proclaims this report from Radio Netherlands. It seems the earlier ideal of low volume tourism to protect the culture has been thrown to the winds and the country is being introduced to the benefits of internet cafes and huge power stations. Form your own opinion when you read this articles on: http://www.rnw.nl/development/html/bhutan021121.html

In a similar vein we read of "Soap addicts and news junkies after three years of TV in Bhutan" in an illuminating (and to my mind rather sad) article from Things Asian. To read that a young 26 year old mother "stays up until 2 am mesmerised by American soaps or Bollywood movies" does nothing to reassure me about the preservation of Bhutan's culture. I think if you want to visit Bhutan you should go as soon as possible. See if you feel the same after reading this article on:
http://www.thingsasian.com/goto_article/article.1904.html
 
Recommended travel books
Of the many books on Bhutan, we would recommend thoroughly these two which are available from Amazon Books:
 
Hotel accommodation in Asia
You will probably fly to Bhutan via Bangkok and there is excellent hotel accommodation available in Bangkok at international standards. However, you don't need to pay international prices. There are substantial discounts available if you know where to look. Our research suggests that the best deals are usually available from the Agoda reservations system which you can find on:
 
Index to back issues
Back issues of this newsletter are available. You can find them on:
http://www.connectedglobe.com/thaiairnews/

The countries covered in other issues are:
 
Far East Air Fare deals from ConnectedGlobe
There are some excellent prices to be found on flights to Bhutan. For flights originating anywhere in the world use the ConnectedGlobe fare finder page.
 
ConnectedGlobe links to information on Bhutan
 
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