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Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck
November 8, 2008 12:33 PM   Subscribe

Bhutan crowns a new King.
posted by homunculus (40 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Happy Happy. Joy Joy.
posted by gman at 12:46 PM on November 8, 2008


Absolutely gorgeous pictures in the first link.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 12:50 PM on November 8, 2008


I've actually always wanted to go, but I ain't paying 2 bills/day.
posted by gman at 12:53 PM on November 8, 2008


Did everybody Wangchuck that night?
posted by chillmost at 1:00 PM on November 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


I was surprised to find out that this guy, who was educated in America, was actually a year behind me in my high school. I'm glad it's not my class; I don't think I could top that at the reunion.
posted by Countess Elena at 1:04 PM on November 8, 2008 [2 favorites]



Did everybody Wangchuck that night?


Goddamnit, I had the Wang Chung reference all ready and someone already made it. You've gotta be quick with the obvious joke around here.
posted by DecemberBoy at 1:10 PM on November 8, 2008


I don't think I could top that at the reunion.

I'll bet he was voted most likely to succeed.
posted by hal9k at 1:10 PM on November 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


I've actually always wanted to go, but I ain't paying 2 bills/day.
posted by gman at 12:53 PM on November 8


Then if I read their motives correctly, their tourism policy is working nicely :)

Great photos & story.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 1:11 PM on November 8, 2008


It does keep riffraff like me out.
posted by gman at 1:16 PM on November 8, 2008


His father won international acclaim for his role in turning Bhutan into a constitutional monarchy while his emphasis on gross national happiness - the idea that spiritual and mental well-being are more important than material prosperity - made him the darling of development groups the world over.

That is one of the most touching and innovative leadership ideas I've ever heard. Love it.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:33 PM on November 8, 2008


Indeed -- Bhutan's tourism policy keeps the travel hippies out.
posted by nitsuj at 1:38 PM on November 8, 2008


Sorry, I wasn't calling you a travel hippie, gman -- I can't afford that either. :)
posted by nitsuj at 1:38 PM on November 8, 2008


Oh, I may not be a hippie, but when I travel, I'm the cheapest mother fucker out there.
posted by gman at 1:42 PM on November 8, 2008


He does look a lot like the old king.
posted by StickyCarpet at 1:50 PM on November 8, 2008


Personally, the idea of being charged $200-250/day just to enter a country would piss me off to the point of not wanting to enter anymore. Also, we should charge them an equal quantity if they want to come here.
posted by Mitrovarr at 1:53 PM on November 8, 2008


Personally, the idea of being charged $200-250/day just to enter a country would piss me off to the point of not wanting to enter anymore.

I think that's the whole idea, Mitrovarr.
posted by afx237vi at 1:56 PM on November 8, 2008


afx237vi: I think that's the whole idea, Mitrovarr.

I had thought the point was to make money by soaking travellers, not just keeping them out, but maybe you're right.

I guess I'm cool with it so long as we were dinging the king for $200/day when he was over here.
posted by Mitrovarr at 1:59 PM on November 8, 2008


the $200/day includes your room, board, guide and transport. so not too bad really!
posted by By The Grace of God at 2:05 PM on November 8, 2008


The room, food, and transport you get isn't worth $20 a day. And I don't like guides..
posted by gman at 2:11 PM on November 8, 2008


I'll cheer when they stop replacing the dead monarchs with new monarchs. I'm a pretty damn hardcore republican (please note the lower case "R" before snarking), I find the continued existence of monarchs to be quite depressing.
posted by sotonohito at 2:30 PM on November 8, 2008


I find the continued existence of monarchs to be quite depressing.

Thank God yours had a 2 term limit.
posted by gman at 2:36 PM on November 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


How much wang could a Wangchuck chuck if a Wangchuck could chuck wang?
posted by not_on_display at 2:41 PM on November 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


I think it's a great idea for a government to try to maximize its population's happiness rather than material wealth, although I believe the punishment for that sort of statement from an American politician is summary execution.

I read an article a while ago that discusses the societal impact of making governmental economic policy based on measures like the GDP rather than some as-yet-theoretical "GIH" (this, from the NY times, is not that article, but it is similar in thesis and argument - I can't seem to find the article I'm thinking of) .
posted by Salvor Hardin at 2:50 PM on November 8, 2008


gman Actually, I've been wondering about the feasibility of a government without a President/Prime Minister/Whatever. Maybe let the executive branch offices be staffed by career bureaucrats and headed by a mixed Congressional committee (say, 7 Representatives and 3 Senators) or something. I think that, even ignoring the horrible increases in Presidential power, the idea of a single person as the "head of the country" is a holdover of monarchist thinking.

I'm sure better political thinkers than I am have kicked the idea around, and when I remember to I'm doing a bit of digging to see what has been written on the subject.
posted by sotonohito at 2:58 PM on November 8, 2008


Seeing as how Bhutan's GDP is ranked 160th in the world, with the average Bhutanese making in a year what most Americans make in a month, I think we can cut them a little slack for the daily fee.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:03 PM on November 8, 2008


Bigpicture didn't have the coronation shoes. The shoes are teh awesome.
posted by netbros at 3:11 PM on November 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Does anyone else think it is weird that the former king's four wives were all sisters?
posted by arnicae at 3:14 PM on November 8, 2008


Seeing as how Bhutan's GDP is ranked 160th in the world, with the average Bhutanese making in a year what most Americans make in a month, I think we can cut them a little slack for the daily fee.

Sure. If I thought the average citizen saw any of it. It's a thorny issue which might make for an interesting discussion.
posted by gman at 3:27 PM on November 8, 2008


Sure. If I thought the average citizen saw any of it.

Yeah, there is that ...

Wow, did I really rail against capitalism in one thread and defend monarchy in another? I need to check my cultural relativism scorecard.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:46 PM on November 8, 2008


One of my very first assignments as a magazine intern in 2004 was to help fact-check a long piece about the Gross Domestic Happiness project.

We were held to very high standards of fact-checking at this particular magazine. The assistant editor was possessed of a touch of fanaticism where it came to fact-checking. There was being sure of a fact, and then there was being checking-sure. This meant that no media reports were to be trusted. The fact-checker was to get on the blower with whoever was said to have said something and double-check. Statistics were to be sourced back to the agency that released them. Manuscripts disappeared under a swarm of meticulous pencil-crayon underlines, meant to distinguish who to call to verify this spelling, and who to call about that quote.

This all went smoothly. The assistant professors were called, and they verified their quotes. The GDP philosphers were called, and they backed up what they were said to have said. So too the statisticians and the economists and the writers. Until finally we got to the point where the King of Bhutan was quoted. We were flummoxed. What were we to do?

The answer from the assistant editor came back immediately: Call Bhutan. Ask for the King.

Needless to say, we didn't. And needless to say, nobody cared. And so it is that, no matter where I read his name, the King of Bhutan will always represent to me the moment that fact-checking ceased to be quite the enterprise it once had been.
posted by bicyclefish at 4:04 PM on November 8, 2008


Here's a good National Geographic article about Bhutan from a few months ago: Bhutan's Enlightened Experiment
posted by homunculus at 4:59 PM on November 8, 2008


"Does anyone else think it is weird that the former king's four wives were all sisters?'

If by weird you mean sexy, then yes.
posted by vronsky at 5:10 PM on November 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Those are wonderful photographs! Cool monastery location.

There's a wonderfully quaint vintage movie on the second link of the OP: A king is crowned (former king) with lots of good footage, music and accents. Also a really neat little film, The last surviving potters.

The pattern in handwoven Bhutanese fabric is well known among Tibetans.

Bhutanese women are the only ones in Asia I've seen who have a national short haircut. There are women with long hair but quite typically it's short and they wear their long chuba (dress) with the pleat to the side, different from Tibetan women). The men wear a short jacket kimono called a gho.

There are badly needed political and social changes needed in Bhutan. I hope this monarch can make changes his father did not. For example in women's and race rights there.

Tariff costs for staying in Bhutan. the price is going up, "US$250 from 1 January 2009".

American 60's model, Sunny Griffin
, goes to Bhutan. Here with 2 Bhutanese women 70 years old at 12, 000 feet.
posted by nickyskye at 7:25 PM on November 8, 2008


Arnicae, from Wikipedia: "Although uncommon, polygamy and polyandry are accepted, often being a device to keep property in a contained family unit rather than dispersing it[citation needed]."

Not that I'm suggesting that this is the motive here, but that it seems siblings marrying the same person isn't unusual in Bhutan. What I find interesting is that polyandry is also accepted.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 8:02 PM on November 8, 2008


Not that I'm suggesting that this is the motive here

I'm not sure why you shouldn't suggest it. As easily as a redneck American can explain the DOMA, I'm sure a Bhutanese would proudly proclaim that this is the whole point. Such systems of marriage still openly based in property are not heavily endowed with a need to explain themselves in terms of love.
posted by dhartung at 9:21 PM on November 8, 2008


Personally, the idea of being charged $200-250/day just to enter a country would piss me off to the point of not wanting to enter anymore. Also, we should charge them an equal quantity if they want to come here.

Why, where are you from? Is it a tiny country which is trying to reconcile a very traditional culture with modernity and which would otherwise be totally overrun by foreigners?

I'll cheer when they stop replacing the dead monarchs with new monarchs. I'm a pretty damn hardcore republican (please note the lower case "R" before snarking), I find the continued existence of monarchs to be quite depressing.

Many Bhutanese actually find the prospect of democracy rather depressing.

Sure. If I thought the average citizen saw any of it.

What, apart from a massive jump in literacy rates, a road building campaign and a twenty year increase in life expectancy?
posted by atrazine at 12:01 AM on November 9, 2008 [4 favorites]


In 1995 while traveling alone in India, I stopped in Kalimpong on my way to Sikkim. Without reservations I went to the Himalayan Hotel, hoping they'd have a room available. I had been told that if I was to splurge while traveling to Sikkim I should try to stay there. They had a room available for only a single night, and it wasn't much of a splurge (something like $40 if I remember correctly).

While sitting in the front veranda reading, a couple of SUVs and a Mercedes arrived. Out came a tall man and woman in colorful flowing robes, followed by a few other in similar robes, as well as some others in gray and white robes, and a shorter man with a mustache wearing a black robe.

As you can guess, this was the Bhutanese royal family and their entourage. They mostly kept to themselves. The guy in black was their security; as I was sitting in my room (in a bungalow unattached to the main building), he poked his head through the window, presumably checking me out for any sort of security risk.

Those in the gray robes were members of the former Sikkimese royal family (Sikkim only became an Indian state in 1975, and the monarchy was abolished). I believe that there were connections by marriage between the Bhutanese and Sikkimese royal families. I and an English couple spent some time talking to one of the Sikkimese, a woman in her early twenties. What I remember most of our conservation was her resentment of India for their takeover of Sikkim, and her rather racist distaste for the Nepalese that had settled in Bhutan.

And that's my brush with the Bhutanese royal family.
posted by ShooBoo at 8:50 AM on November 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


...and her rather racist distaste for the Nepalese that had settled in Bhutan.

There are indeed, some old tensions there. Take into account though that Sikkim voted for annexation by India and subsequent abolition of the monarchy because of the many Nepalese who had immigrated there. A factor that definitely played in a role in the Bhutanese treatment of them.
posted by atrazine at 9:47 AM on November 9, 2008


In other Himalayan news: Dalai Lama to take a back seat in Tibet's struggle for freedom
posted by homunculus at 1:01 PM on November 16, 2008


Economists appraise Bhutan's happiness model
posted by homunculus at 12:07 PM on December 7, 2008


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