A Favorite Spot, Kindly Contributed By
Published April 5th, 2011
Kindly contributed by Lisa Napoli, author of Radio Shangri-La.
“Here’s a photo of me in the magical village of Ura with local kids behind the new library, built in an old farmhouse last year. Ura hosts a Matsutake Mushroom festival; the delicacy grows there in abundance. I’m working to raise money so that READGlobal can build a similar library in the district of Mongar (bookstobhutan.com has some more details and pictures). Kezang Choden of ReadGlobal.org took this photo last fall and next to me on the right is my friend Pema Lhamo, who accompanied me.
Ura is now one of my favorite spots in Bhutan. While of course I love Takshang monastery, and write about it in the start of Radio Shagri-La, I also love the new Buddha statue under construction high above Thimphu town. While some people criticize its size and its origins (made in China), I think it’s beautiful — and the vista from up there of the growing city is magnificent — and also startling. So many cranes! While you can see more spectacular natural beauty many other places, I’ve enjoyed watching the Buddha evolve.”
Author of Radio Shangri-La, the NPR journalist Lisa Napoli ditched her job on the public radio show Marketplace for a life-changing stint with Bhutan’s first youth-oriented radio station, Kuzoo FM, in rapidly modernizing Thimphu. It must have something to so with the fact that she’s originally from Brooklyn and a journalist, but we appreciate Napoli’s unsentimental take on rapid change in Bhutan and its impact, especially, on the youth of the country. You can contribute toward the $50,000 to build a new library in Mongar online at Readglobal.org.
In the epilogue Napoli writes poignantly of the “merry band of bright-eyed MBAs, dispatched from McKinsey’s offices in next-door India, hired for $9.1 million” to supercharge the economy of Bhutan (to much controversy). Interestingly, none of our travel colleagues were contacted by McKinsey, not even Brent Olson at Geographic Expeditions. You can see the report at “Accelerating Bhutan’s Socio-Economic Development,” the rather portentous title for the project.
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