New experiences, new you.
I get this question a lot: “What’s your favorite destination?” For the longest time, my answer had been automatic. Anyone who knows me long enough knows that Paris gives me freedom and a sense of confidence that is hard to explain. It’s also the sweetest feeling, finding yourself meshing within a foreign setting then realizing that something within you has been positively changed. Whether such metamorphosis came from the sight of a monument, the sound of a different language, the touch of sand or a plate of tasty local dish; traveling is a form of constant reinvention. And for those, like myself, who are on a continual quest of personal evolvement; traveling, in this aspect, becomes fantastically addicting.
Back in late October, I traveled with my mother to one of the world’s hidden treasures: Bhutan. A country rarely making international news, frequently overshadowed by Tibet, India or China. But what a life-changing experience it was! Not many have traveled to Bhutan because the Bhutanese government enforces a tourist daily fee of $250/day, making it one of the most expensive places to visit. While the rest of the world focuses on GDP, Bhutanese government carries enormous pride in its Gross Domestic Happiness. One can absolutely feel it throughout every town, every street corner in Bhutan. If you don’t know what true happiness is, then here’s how I can best describe it: it’s beyond every fathomable definition of peace. It’s when kindness and optimism naturally take over.
In Bhutan, there are no stoplights, because people are that polite towards one another. Simplicity, purity, traditions, spirituality are the basis of their lifestyle. Not completely “jetset,” but in today’s convoluted world, such a lifestyle is not only to be respected, but rather, beautifully coveted.
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As a traveler who visits around ten countries per year, I’ve seen my fair share of beaches, oceans, mountains, temples, churches, wild animals…you name it. After our daily three-hour roadtrips throughout Bhutan, I was growing uninhibitedly emotional by serene landscapes. Trees made me tear up. Ridiculous, but true. Somehow, after spending days of meeting rinpoches (reincarnated lamas,) bowing down at shrines in temples and playing with children lamas; I became deeply affected. I thought to myself: what a shame that schools have become crime scenes of shootings, teens – our future – are depressed and suicidal, friends detest one another with toxic jealousy. Truly, look at our world. What a shame.
This month on Jetset Times, we’re introducing this sanctuary destination in our Guide to Getaway – Bhutan. Often, finding “the new you” requires backtracking a little. If you have never thought about traveling to Bhutan, it’s time to change that. Learn about it, bring yourself back to basics. The Bhutanese are so brilliant in such an emphasis: love, family, joy, spirituality, and again…simplicity.
On January 26th, we’ll also show you a destination on the cusp of reinvention. In Guide to Getaway – Panama, you’ll see a country with complicated and sordid history yet claiming its role as both a cultural and a leisure hotspot in recent years. Today, Panama City’s new cool is oddly but surely defined by its old district, Casco Viejo, which now houses fantastic restaurants and hideaway hotels. Completely rustic, absolutely hip and new. And let’s not even get started on Trump Hotel Panama’s view from its infinity pool. Was that Panama City or Dubai? I had to think for a second…
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With the start of a new year, resolutions are devoutly made then religiously followed (at least for a month or two.) There’s something in all of us that yearns to experiment with the new, anxious to explore the unknown. To reinvent ourselves is a repetitive theme in every traveler’s journal. How many times have we discovered a city to love not because we’ve found love with a partner, but because we fell in love with a place that defined us in a brand new way? Traveling allows us to think about our lives differently, it certainly showcases our potentials as who we can be and how we can, not makeover, but make better.
Paris will always be one of my favorite places to live in. But for quite some time, I’ve known who I am in Paris. Meanwhile, Bhutan gifted a different growth in my spirit that I probably wasn’t ready for until this trip. One of the happiest countries in the world taught me to let go of negativity faster, thus not only to live fully but to live kindly. Kindness naturally fosters happiness. And isn’t that what we’re all trying to attain in life?
Last month, someone in Panama asked me, “what’s your favorite destination in the world?” Without hesitation, I answered, “Bhutan.” I’m pretty sure “the new me” won’t change this answer for many years to come.
Happy New Year!
To the new us,
*Big thanks to Lama Sonam, Bhutan Radiant Tour & Trek’s Shacha Wanchuk, Trump Hotel Panama, Las Clementinas Hotel, Amber Resort’s Isla Palenque, Dolphin Bay Hideaway, Give and Surf Foundation, Palmar Tent Lodge and Tantalo Hotel/Kitchen/Roofbar.