The humble coconut tree

In Sri Lankan culture the coconut tree plays a humble yet significant part in the island’s daily life. It’s a sustainable source of nourishment and considered the most useful tree on the island.

Read my full post here: The Coconut Tree

Bhutan | Why Blue Poppy Tours & Treks is the local knowledge you need

Rafting 5

It’s fair to say that a land as mysterious as time requires the knowledge and knowhow of one who knows it. In my final instalment of Bhutan I look at Blue Poppy Tours & Treks, set up by Choki Dorji. The company specialises in bespoke tours of the Kingdom. With offices in London and Thimpu the tour operator focuses on cultural, trekking and special interest tours such as bird watching and textile trips for independent travellers. Such is their commitment to personalised service that Blue Poppy will arrange requests such as private meditation sessions and home-stays.

Bhutanese owner and director Choki hand picks local guides with expertise in each field. He takes great pride in the personal and tailor made aspect of his tours. Choki’s philosophy and humble beginnings have seen the company grow from just himself and his wife to 30 employees in Thimpu. Choki has this to say of the company’s ethos and success:

“Blue Poppy was set up towards the end of 2004 with huge help from my wife.  I would say that the ideas I have learned from her and from living in the western world have helped me to build a successful business.  I have learned many things by living in the UK, such as how to think for the future, be efficient and how to provide service to others and this is how we extended our business and we now have Blue Poppy PVT. Ltd which is a holding company for other tourism related businesses as well.”

Eastern tour - Weaving
BHUTAN, Eastern Bhutan Ranjung: woman weaving in her grocery shop. ©Josef Polleross


In 2009 Blue Poppy partnered with a travel marathon agent to develop the first marathon in Bhutan. It’s still held annually with around 160 local and overseas runners. The company has also helped develop an exciting trail running experience which attracted runners from around the world.

Blue Poppy has continued to grow steadily in its 14 years; from 80 clients in 2006 to over 650 in 2017. It is now in the top 20 list of local operators by number of clients. It sits at number 15 out of 300 by number of nights tourists spend in Bhutan; a credit to its quality of service.

With unparalleled local knowledge and a triumphant journey of personal transformation Blue Poppy Tours & Treks offers wanderers an opportunity to unlock the secrets of an intriguing land. You can rest assure that it will be the most splendid isolation you will ever experience no matter if you’re *chasing angels or fleeing demons in the mountains.




For more information visit: Blue Poppy Bhutan



*Chasing angels or fleeing demons, go to the mountains.
― Jeffrey Rasley, Bringing Progress to Paradise: What I Got from Giving to a Mountain Village in Nepal

Bhutan | Why you need to travel to this ancient kingdom

Druk Wangyel Tsechu 3

The Kingdom of Bhutan has captivated me always. Its venerable way of life, ancient traditions, proximity to celestial parts of the earth, such the Himalayas and Tibet, and its governing principle of gross national happiness have influenced my enchantment. The country is located on the ancient Silk Road but was unaffected even though the route significantly impacted the spread of religion, literature and cultures of all other nations along it. Bhutan is the last Buddhist kingdom. Furthermore, it has never been colonised in its history. In this second part of my series on Bhutan I delve a little in to the culture and landscape to explain why you need to travel to this ancient kingdom.


Bhutan’s heritage has remained unscathed because of its retreat from an ever evolving modern world until recently. Agriculture and farming being the main occupations the population is concentrated in rural areas. As mentioned in my previous post traditions are  deeply rooted in Buddhism and much of every day life is focused around seasons and religion.

National dress is highly respected and many wear it as formal attire.  The gho, a knee-length robe tied at the waist is worn by men and women wear a kira which is an ankle-length dress, clipped at the shoulders with two identical brooches and tied at the waist.


Bhutan has a climate that varies with altitude. The southern border near India is tropical, hot and humid. The Himalayan mountains northwards are snow-covered all year. Spring time trekking between March to May is popular; days are warm and the mountain peaks visible. Daytime temperatures remain perfect for long treks between 17 to 22 degrees Celsius. Eastern Bhutan is particularly suited for treks due to its drier climate. If trekking in autumn, between September to November, much lower temperatures, especially at high altitudes, can be expected.

Cultural Tour Taktsang
The Tiger’s Nest

No visit to Bhutan is complete without a journey to Paro Taktsang or The Tiger’s Nest. This ancient monastery, built in 1692 around a cave, clings, 3000 feet above sea level, to a mountainside of Paro Valley.

Trekking is the only way to get to the monastery and takes around five hours both ways. You will be accompanied by locals, prayer flags, prayer wheels and the occasional donkey along the way. The scenery, as expected, is said to be unforgettable.

More information on trekking tours can be found here: Trekking tours


Tshechu, meaning day 10 are annual religious festivals held in every district of Bhutan to honor Guru Rinpoche and his introduction of Buddhism to Bhutan in the 8th century. Festivals are social occasions as much as religious.

It’s believed that anyone who watches a Tshechu earns religious merit and will be granted great luck. Before a Tshechu begins, prayers and rituals are carried out to evoke deities. Masked dances and dramas are typical and are accompanied by traditional music. Energetic dancers, wearing colourful masks and bright costumes depict gods, demons, animals and caricatures of people. To expereience a Tshechu is to experience Bhutan at its finest.

Full list of festival dates for 2019 can be found here: Festival dates 2019

Look out for the final instalment of this series for more on this alluring, mysterious land that left time behind.


For more information visit: Blue Poppy Tours & Treks