Fags are going to pot and booze gets the boot in the healthy kingdom of Bhutan

Punakha dzong

It’s been a while between posts, because it’s been a while since internet. Hell, it’s been a while since electricity.

But what it lacks in power (ironic considering it’s selling hydro-electricity to India) Bhutan makes up for in enlightening ideas.

Here’s a few to consider:

Politicians
must retire at 65 years, even the king. In any case, you’ve got to be able to get into the administrative offices, such as the Punakha dzong, pictured, a building
accessible only by what can be described as a rather beautiful ladder. Can’t get up it?
Can’t go to work (lordy, think of some of our Aussie fatties trying to edge their way up this one!)
The first
Sunday of the month is car free in the major towns. It used to be every Tuesday, but was overturned by public demand. Tuesday’s obviously a biggie for reform as…

…Tuesdays are ‘dry days’ which means no booze is sold in the country (except in tourist hotels). The locals just brew arrak – like whiskey – from barley at home. Wait, isn’t barley a
superfood?

Pot grows
wild on the roadside, the government encourages school children to rip it out.
Selling
tobacco is illegal and you pay 200% duty on any imported fags. This is the
place to go when you’re contemplating quitting. I haven’t been hanging around the bars, so I have seen only three guys smoking; and two of them were hunched over like they were behind the school toilets, and the others were in a snooker hall, flagrantly ignoring the ‘no smoking’ sign.

About the author

Fear is found on a creaking glacier in the Caucasus mountains and joy is encapsulated in the perfect Shanghai dumpling. And while I love a $500-a-night hotel room (who doesn’t?), sometimes the best stories are found in a $20 guesthouse. With an eye always out for good markets and great street eats, I write the travel news and features for the Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne’s The Age newspapers, and features for whoever else asks. I have a particular soft spot for the wilds of the Middle East, scarves and carpets. My articles and photographs have been published in a range of consumer magazines and newspapers in Australia and abroad.

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