Traveling to the Big Apple comes at a very big price. For most tourists, getting a good rate at a five-star hotel in a great area in Manhattan is almost unheard of and only the very lucky ones can boast of their jackpot deal.
Realistically, you cant stay in New York for anything under $250 per-night (and that isn’t even for a stylish hotel!) Many people have been crying out for years to open a hotel that is affordable, comfortable and stylish and although it hasn’t been favorable among hotel giants for years, this year it got the green light.
Nestled on 36th Street and 7th Avenue is the Moxy Hotel and one of five hotels set to open in the concrete jungle. Moxy Times Square is the New York flagship of Marriotts new baby and expanded global brand. When you think Marriott however, you think corporate and smart, whereas Moxy is outrageous, loud and screams rock-n-roll.
Therefore, it would only be appropriate that it has been named “an energetic alternative to the typical hotel experience.” The hotel is all about innovation and design and went so far to shun traditional reception front desks in favor of touchscreen kiosks and apps to open your room with a scanning barcode.
Inside the rooms, functionality and design is clearly key as they are perfectly configurated to house folding furniture designed by Yabu Pushelberg, wooden bed frames with suitcase storage and open-pegboard closets.
The rooms all contain walk-in rain showers, complimentary wifi, Bluetooth soundbars and flat-screen HDTVs. Guests can choose from suite options ranging from king-size down to quad rooms with twin bunks.
However, although the mattresses and sheet are all incredibly comfy, the hotel offer a pair of earplugs next to your bed. This is due to the fact that their rooftop is a up and coming bar/club that has new dj’s spinning every night, getting the cool crowd hitting the dance floor hard. Celebrities have also been known to grace the venue as Heidi Klum hosted her invitation only infamous Halloween party there this year.
All in all, the new hotel is a fantastic experience for young people looking to visit New York, and at the end of your trip, your stomach won’t churn when you get your hotel cheque.
40+ Fascinating Facts About Bhutan
Bhutan has long been shrouded in mystery. This mountainous country is renowned for its pristine forests and wildlife. Bhutan’s rich culture and long history is equally interesting. Take a peak behind the curtain as we reveal 40+ fascinating facts about Bhutan.
Late to Get Internet
In a world filled with fast-developing technologies and innovations, this fact about Bhutan might be shocking. In fact, most of us can’t imagine a world without internet! Yet the Bhutanese government was in no rush to introduce this new technology.The country didn’t start using the internet until 1999!
While, many countries believe that achieving happiness is an individual goal, the government of Bhutan is heavily invested in the emotional well-being of its population. Instead of using traditional economic markers like gross domestic product, the government created a new gross national happiness index (GNH) in 2008.
The four pillars of GNH are sustainable socio-economic development, environmental conservation, the preservation and promotion of culture, and good governance. The success of this program has even been implemented in other countries like Canada, Australia, and Brazil.
Asiatic wild dogs are found the Asian continent. Often referred to as dholes, these members of the canid family have a wide range across various countries and landscapes. In Bhutan, dholes are found throughout the country, especially in the Jigme Dorji national park.
The presence of dholes in Bhutan is a conservation success story, considering that the animal was on the brink of extinction just decades ago. While conflict between the wild dogs and farmers remains an issue, dhole populations continue to be found in many parts of Bhutan.
Bhutan’s dense forests don’t just provide shelter to a variety of animals, other living things like fungi also thrive in these protected areas. One mushroom, the Matsutake, is considered one of the most expensive and prized mushrooms in the world.
This exotic ingredient can cost up to $1000 per kilo. Known locally as sangay shamu, this pricy fungus has inspired a yearly celebration known as the Matsutake Mushroom Fesitval where attendees can sample the mushroom in a variety of dishes.
Funny Roadside Signs
Having to navigate through winding mountains can be dangerous for even the most experienced driver. Luckily, the government of Bhutan has placed a variety of signs along this often deadly roads. What makes these roadside signs unique is that their messages, while important, are delivered in a very funny way.
These signs feature messages like, “Going faster will see disaster” or “On the bend, go slow friend.” The witty signs help drivers follow the rules of the road while delivering a few laughs along the way.
Guardians of Peace
Bhutan is unique in that the country boasts a huge team of volunteer first-responders known as the ‘Guardians of Peace.’ These volunteers undergo training in a program called de-suung, or “peace-guarding” program. The program was created by King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck in 2011.
These volunteers are able to be mobilize and stay in contact using a special phone application. From providing assistance after natural disasters like landslides, to providing crowd control, these volunteers are always ready to help. Bhutan currently has more than 22,000 “guardians of peace” ready to help their country.
A Special Dance
Zhey, a Tibetan phrase to describe song and dance performed together, is a traditional folk dance of Bhutan. The origins of the song are deeply rooted in Bhutanese and Buddhist mythology and history.
The specific number of steps and the type of costumes that the dancers wear is dependent on each specific district of Bhutan. Zhey is traditionally only performed by men, and is set to a rapidly-paced rhythm. While costume choice can vary across regions, most costumes include headbands, boots, and even swords.
If one should visit Bhutan for the first time, this is probably the first thing that they will notice. The Bhutanese are very proud of their national costumes, and often wear them during ceremonial events.
In Bhutan, men traditionally wear knee-length robe called a gho, while women wear a long dress called kira. The major variation comes from one’s social status, which is indicated by the color of the scarf draped on their left shoulder. Most commoners, or non-royals, wear white. Royalty like the King, can be seen wearing saffron colored robes.
High Altitude Tigers
While tigers are found in various countries across the Asian continent, the tigers of Bhutan are considered the highest-dwelling tigers in the world. Scientists discovered that the big cat was living at heights of over 13,000 feet, deep in the Bhutanese mountains.
These Bengal tigers are deeply revered in Bhutan due to their religious and cultural significance in Buddhism. Despite its small size, Bhutan is home to over 100 tigers. Bhutan is also the only country in the world where tigers and snow leopards co-exist in the same habitat.
Visitors to Bhutan will instantly recognize the colorful strings of flags that stretch across the landscape. While these flags may look festive, they actually have deeply religious and spiritual significance. The colors of the flag represent the five elements of nature.
White represents air, red represents fire, green represents water, yellow represents earth, and blue represents sky or wind. The flags typically feature Buddhist mantras and prayers, along with important symbols. The flags are always found high above ground as it is believed that the wind guides, and carries, the prayers.
While most people associate cheese with countries like France, the citizens of Bhutan are particularly fond of the dairy product. Bhutanese cuisine often features cheese made from cow and yak milk. Known as datshi by locals, cheese is an important source of protein for the population.
In many parts of the country, cheese is still made in a traditional way, with cheesemakers churning and straining milk by hand. Even the national dish, ema datshi, is a mix of cheese with chilies.
Teachers From India
Bhutan and India have had a strong relationship, even predating the signing of a Treaty of Friendship between the two nations in 1949. One of the areas in which the two countries work together, is in education. For over 50 years, teachers from India have been teaching in Bhutan.
These teachers often serve the most rural and vulnerable communities in Bhutan. Even today, there are over 100 Indian teachers stationed in schools across Bhutan. Many Bhutanese students choose to study abroad in India, particularly university students.
City of Weavers
Unlike most in most parts of the country, where most of the population work as farmers, the people of Bhutan’s Bumthang region continue to produce traditional wool products known as yathra.
Most homes in Bumthang are equipped with a loom, and girls traditionally begin learning how to weave at eight years old. The wool used in yathra products comes from local sheep and yaks. Yathra weaves often feature bright colors, and the thick wool is highly valued by the people of this cold and mountainous region.
While this country is especially interested in the happiness of the people, it hasn’t forsaken the happiness of the environment. There is also a real concern for nature. Bhutanese are deeply devoted to caring for the environment.
A record set by the people in 2015 is proof of this commitment. The country planted 50,000 plants in one hour! Thanks to the hard work of the volunteers , a new world record was set. While other countries are dealing with the negative effects of deforestation, Bhutan is showing that it cares for the environment.
Bhutan’s care for nature does not end with the plants. There is also special level of care and attention given to the animals in this country. A simple reason for this is that the majority of the population are Buddhists. The religion is one that teaches care and respect for all living things.
This belief prohibits the killing of animals. Many people in Bhutan are vegetarians. While there are some regional dishes that include meat, it is still rarely consumed. It seems that human, animal, and plant lives are all safe in this country.
Bhutan’s respect for animal life means that much of Bhutanese cuisine includes a variety of vegetables and grains. Rice forms the base of many popular dishes. Bhutanese even snack on puffed rice called zaow.
However, many varieties of rice won’t grow in Bhutan due to its high altitude in the Himalayan mountains. This means the type of rice grown in Bhutan is a special variety often referred to as “red rice.” The rice gets its unique color from the outer layers of the grain. The rice has a nutty flavor, and is sticky.
There are many interesting facts about Bhutan, but this particular one would be helpful to those who hope or wish to visit the country someday. While the country is a fascinating place to visit, it is not open to all tourists.
The county takes great lengths to restrict what they refer to as “low value tourism,” such as backpackers or weekenders. Tourists must register with government-accredited travel agencies, which will give them tours of only specific sites.
While many view Bhutan as a very traditional country, the kingdom is actually quite modern when it comes to the rights of women. Unlike in many traditional societies, women in Bhutan play important roles in politics, agriculture, and the economy.
Estates are generally divided equally between male and female heirs. Women are legally allowed to have more than one husband in a system known as polyandry. Women play an important role, particularly in the rural agricultural sector of the economy.
Most mountainous regions have their own folklore involving mythical ape-like creatures, Bhutan is no different. Many Bhutanese believe in a yeti-like creature that they call the migoi. Migoi are said to stalk the high peaks of the Himalayas.
Many people claim to have seen the mythological snow beast, and have even recorded footprints of the monster. It is even said that one Bhutanese monastery houses the corpse of a smaller version of the migoi, called the michum. While no actual monster has been found, many continue to believe.
King, Not President
The political structure of Bhutan is unique in that power is shared between a prime minister and a king. The current ruling king is Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck. He ascended to the throne in 2008, and was thought to be one of the youngest reigning monarchs in the world at the time.
Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck comes from a long line of Bhutan royalty, and is the fifth king to reign from the Wangchuck dynasty.
Rules Against Marrying Foreigners
If during your trip you happen to meet someone special, it’s important to know that the country has a variety of laws designed to essentially limit marriage between foreigners and Bhutanese citizens. While the laws have relaxed somewhat, it is still extremely difficult for foreigners to receive Bhutanese citizenship.
There is also a law which states that while the children of a male Bhutanese citizen and a foreigner will automatically be considered Bhutanese citizens, the same is not true regarding a Bhutanese woman marrying a foreigner.
A Woman’s Home
Bhutan is also unique in its approach to partners and marriage.Unlike in many other countries, the man will traditionally move into the home of his new wife following their marriage ceremony. After marriage, the man joins his wife’s family.
Property is also traditionally commonly registered in the name of the woman due to the fact that it is women who tend to look after the elders in their family. There doesn’t seem to be as much of a stigma attached to single or divorced women, compared to other traditional cultures.
No Traffic Lights
Bhutan is place with unique features. This country is known for embracing a slower pace of life. Journeying down different parts of the country, there is something that one would notice or rather, not notice – Bhutanese roads do not have traffic lights.
In the capital city of Thimphu, traffic is directed by a policeman using expressive hand gestures. In addition to this interesting addition to the roadway, road signs are often hand-drawn and feature witty messages in both English and Dzhongka, Bhutan’s official language.
Homes in Bhutan are often constructed in a similar, but still architecturally interesting, style. Homes are usually two to three stories, and rectangular. The ground floor is often used to house animals while families reside above. One of the differentiating features of Bhutanese homes can be found in the windows.
The wooden shutters that frame the windows of Bhutanese homes are covered with uniquely detailed and extravagant designs. These designs include traditional symbols of luck and prosperity, along with images of animals and flowers.
One of the most adorable, yet elusive, creatures to call Bhutan home is the red panda. These cat-sized mammals spend most of their lives high in the trees where they snack on bamboo leaves and shoots. The red panda is native to the Himalayan mountains.
While the exact population of red pandas in Bhutan is unknown, the red panda is considered to be an endangered species in the region. The Bhutanese government has recently launched a plan to conserve, and raise awareness about, these special little mountain-dwellers.
Trying a new meal in a foreign country can sometimes be a complicated affair. In Bhutan, meal time can be even more complicated due to one of the country’s unique custom regarding food. This custom applies to people receiving an offering of food.
In Bhutan, when someone offers you food, you must repeat the words “meshu meshu,” while covering your mouth. You must repeat this refusal two or three times before eventually accepting the meal, according to Bhutanese etiquette.
The official name of the Kingdom of Bhutan is Druk Yul. The direct translation of this name is “Land of the Thunder Dragon.” The word druk is the Dzongkha word for “Thunder Dragon,” a beast from Bhutanese mythology. This mythological being is even featured on the country’s flag clutching jewels, which represent wealth.
Leaders of the country are often referred to as Druk Gyalpo, or “Thunder Dragon Kings” or “Dragon King.” The people of this country are even sometimes referred to as Drukpa, or “Dragon people.”
Free to Enter India
Bhutan is surrounded by two large countries: China and India. However, it has a better diplomatic relationship with India than it does with China. A citizen of Bhutan would only need their national identification documents to enter India. Bhutanese citizens are not required to have a visa in order to enter that neighboring nation.
India and Bhutan maintain a close relationship resulting in citizens of both nations frequently crossing over the border for work and educational opportunities. This close relationship means that Indian rupees are routinely and widely accepted in Bhutan.
Nestled deep in the Himalayan mountains, it’s no surprise that most of Bhutan is home to some of the highest peaks on the planet. One mountain is especially unique, not just for its height, but because it is the highest unclimbed mountain in the world.
Gangkhar Puensum, which is about 25,000 feet tall, has remained virtually untouched for decades following several failed attempts to scale the giant mountain. The Bhutanese government has also decided to ban mountaineering on the mountain to prevent disturbing the spirits that are said to dwell there.
All Citizens Are Important
While many believe that there is no such thing as homelessness in the Kingdom of Bhutan, this is not entirely accurate. What is true is that the king, and the government, go to great length to ensure that all citizens of Bhutan enjoy a decent standard of living.
The government of Bhutan has drafted and implemented several policies concerning affordable housing to reduce, and at times, eliminate poverty in the kingdom. The government also works hard to offer public housing to low-income citizens.
Education is a key component of the welfare of citizens in this country. While most of Bhutan lives in rural areas, the country is increasingly embracing modern technology . This shift towards urban life is why the government of Bhutan has provided free education for all.
Until the 1950s, formal education in Bhutan was only available in Buddhist monasteries. Considering the small size of the country, many Bhutanese citizens attend college abroad. While high rates of illiteracy still plague the nation, the country has invested many resources in improving the education system.
Bhutan is home to one of the world’s rarest primates, the golden langur. This endangered species is found in southern Bhutan forests, and is one of the world’s most threatened species of primate. With a population estimated at about 4,000 individuals, Bhutan is one of the animal’s last strongholds.
Golden langurs are vegetarians, and spend most of their lives feasting on the leaves and fruits of trees. While their population was once widespread, they are now mostly found in national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.
It is well-known that Bhutan values the environment. In addition to passing legislation to protect the country’s expansive forests, the country is also becoming a world leader in renewable energy.
Bhutan is the only carbon-negative country in the world. Being carbon-negative means that Bhutan absorbs more carbon dioxide than they produce. The fact that more than 70% of the land surrounding the country is covered in forests also helps to achieve this feat.
Flying is already a scary experience for many people, let alone flying into one of the world’s most dangerous airports. Bhutan’s only international airport, Paro Airport, is so treacherous that less than two dozen pilots are even qualified to land there.
The airport is located in a valley, surrounded by sharp peaks that reach more than 18,000 feet! The location in the valley means the airport is often rocked by strong winds which cause extreme turbulence. Talk about a fear of flying!
Happy Birthday/New Year
It may come as a surprise for many tourists to know that birthdays are not traditionally celebrated in Bhutan. Most Bhutanese, especially those from older generations or those who reside in rural areas, follow a lunar calendar cycle versus a Western Gregorian calendar.
The government lists the start of the new year, January first, as the birthdate for the entire population of the country. While unique birthdays are slowly becoming more and more popular, some Bhutanese still prefer to keep their collective birthdate.
For many years, the Bhutanese believed that a mythological creature roamed the mountains of the countryside that had been stitched together using a variety of animal parts. While the story behind this creature is the stuff of myth, the Bhutan takin is very much real.
This large herbivore is known as the national animal of Bhutan, and it is highly revered and protected in the country. The animal is covered in a thick shaggy coat, and can weigh close to a ton.
Spice Up Your Life
One of the most important elements of Bhutanese cuisine is the use of spice. Many Bhutanese dishes incorporate chili peppers such as phaksha paa, a dish made with dried pork and chili peppers.
It’s not uncommon to see chili peppers hanging in homes, and the spicy ingredient is considered to be more of a vegetable than it is a condiment or spice. Even Bhutan’s national dish, ema datshi, blends chili peppers and soft cheese.
Archery for All
While sports like cricket are extremely popular throughout southeast Asia, Bhutanese have a special passion for archery. The bow and arrow is a cultural and religious symbol for the people of this country, and almost ever village has a field to practice archery.
Archery became the national sport of Bhutan in 1971, and has continued to be a popular past time for citizens of the kingdom. Despite being a small country, Bhutan has its own Olympic archery team.
Due to its high altitude and location in the path of monsoon weather patterns, harvesting crops year-round isn’t always an option for farmers in Bhutan. The solution? Using the roof of your house as a way to preserve a cache of food.
Bhutanese have traditionally used their roofs to dry ingredients like chili peppers. Not only does the exposure to the elements dry out, and preserve the peppers, but it keeps them safe from hungry animals. Families also use their roofs to dry beef and yak meat.
While human tourism may be limited in Bhutan, the people of this country gladly welcome an airborne visitor – the black-necked crane. These cranes are common characters in Bhutanese folklore and superstitious beliefs.
The people of Bhutan gather on the eleventh of November ever year to welcome these birds, which they believe bring good luck. This festival, known as the Black-necked Crane Festival, typically includes crane-themed dances and costumes.
While there is no shortage of incredible sites to see in Bhutan, no visit is complete without a trip to the ‘Tiger’s Nest Monastery’ in Paro Takstang. The stunning structure looks like it was carved into the face of a sheer cliff.
An important pilgrimage site for followers of the Vajrayana sect of Buddhism, the site is also quickly becoming a must-see attraction for tourists. The monastery, located almost 3,000 feet above the Paro valley, was built in the late 1600s.
No Plastic Bags
The commitment to keeping the environment clean and healthy in this country is very strong. So much so that the country has tried on numerous occasions to ban the use of plastic bags. In 1999, the country established a law prohibiting the use of plastic bags and pouches.
The ban was not exactly successful due to lack of alternatives. In 2019, the National Environment Commission (NEC) introduced additional action to enforce the 1999 ban, including promoting the use of biodegradable plastic and jute bags.
While sports like archery are widely played in Bhutan, there are several other traditional sports that are still commonly played during festivals and public holidays. One of these sports is called soksum, and involves throwing a javelin, or light spear, over a distance of up to 66 feet.
Soksom was once a popular pastime for the country’s “cowboys,” in rural villages. One of Bhutan’s roughest traditional sport is called langthab, or bull fight. In this contact-sport, contestants headbutt one another into submission.
It might surprise some tourists to know just how powerful the government of Bhutan is. Bhutan is a considered a constitutional monarchy where power is shared between a democratically elected prime minister, and a king. The current prime minister is Lotay Tshering, who rules alongside King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck.
The government of Bhutan is deeply involved in many decisions regarding healthcare, education, and tourism. While the government has often adopted a policy of isolationism regarding building ties with other nations, the kingdom has slowly opened up.
Bhutan is a country that prides itself on taking care of the its people. Thanks to the country’s constitution, citizens of this country have unrestricted access to free healthcare.
One unique point about this plan is the availability of both Western and traditional medicine. Both are widely available throughout the country. People can decide which one they prefer. The good news is that both are free.