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Hidden City
Inquirer RED / August 2016

Words and Photography: Kim Jones

The moment I stepped on Bhutanese ground, a palpable peace greeted me. The Paro Airport was silent, the only sound coming from the baggage carousel clicking into action and delivering their foreign, ever-changing luggage. Photos of Bhutan’s King Jigme and Queen Jetsun were displayed proudly on the airport walls and on the badges the airport staff wore, proudly pinned to their traditional kira or gho. It was my first glimpse of the respect the Bhutanese reserve not just for the monarchy but also for the limited amount of visitors that get granted visas as part of their country’s “high value, low impact” tourism policy.

It’s a country that lends an endless amount of trails and paths to hidden monasteries nestled in the mountains, but Bhutan also fiercely protects its Himalayan summits and the most challenging of trails unavailable to humans. Its snow-covered mountains are considered sacred and people are prohibited from climbing them. It is this discipline and dedication to Buddhism that allow a spiritual awakening in even the most religiously impartial – exactly the reason why fashion brand Harlan and Holden decided to launch their Camino shoe there.

This was a trip to highlight the unconventional and underrated beauty of a very specific kind of travel, and to not be afraid to get one’s feet dirty in the process. Harlan and Holden had allowed me and six other guests to take part in experiential travel, to experience the spiritual highs in the context of nature – and not just any nature, mind you, but that of the only carbon negative country in the world.

Read the rest of the story on the August 2016 issue of Inquirer RED.