We started in Paro, flying in from Kathmandu. We did not realize that you ought to sit on the correct side of the plane to see the Himalayas, a little hiccup we corrected on the way out. We started out in Paro with a substitute guide and driver, but they were both excellent. However, had quite a bit of trouble getting our atm cards to work while shopping in Paro, we should have brought more cash and converted it at the airport.
The next day we flew to Bumthang Valley and met up the Llendrup, our guide the new driver. We quickly found out that our guide knew everyone and was constantly on his cellphone updating our arrangements and we think some work for his other clients. At the Jakar Tsechu Festival we found that the activities were there for the locals and they were kind enough to share them with us. This was true for all of our trip, we did not see any "staged" performances just for the tourist trade. Again the guide surpassed our expectations by getting us comfortable seats overlooking the event, VIP seating for sure, with the head monk (the guides uncle), the governor and head judge of the area making room for us. They fed us lunch, butter tea and coffee as well.
Over the next few days we drove over bumpy roads and visited more monasteries and museums and of course shopping for local handicrafts. Ask you guide to help identify the local from the imported stuff, but after a few shop you will see the difference. We did get to the main post office in Thimpu? which was excellent if you love stamps.
We shifted the trip a bit to try and include things of nature, and this was probably the one big disappointment of the trip, we had hoped to see local birds and animals but had limited success. I think a guide who is focused on nature and knows where to find local species would be needed to make this happen.
We did get tired of the buffet breakfast and dinner routine and decided to buy meals ala carte.
We did try the hot stone bath and I would take a hard pass on that, the water was not refreshed between customers and I felt quite ill afterwards, the tubs are not large enough for a 6' 2" 240lb man. We did have a nice local meal after and a bit of impromptu karaoke when one of the guide fired up his guitar.
My thoughts: 2 temples and 2-3 museums are enough, it gets repetitive after that. More nature would have been great, easy hikes with wildlife were in short supply.
The guide could not have been better and the driver was careful and all the mountain roads. I would go back in a minute and use Acorn again.
But never through Kathmandu again, the clean air and scenery of Bhutan is sorely missing.