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High on happiness

Travel | February 2016

Some of the eight ponies whose job it was to carry the kit.

Charlotte Thompson and her teenage children went trekking in the kingdom of Bhutan

My son was given a book of flags when he was ten years old and was entranced by one in particular. He told me it was Bhutan’s. I had never heard of the place. But the bold orange and yellow flag with a dragon emblazoned on it had him hooked. He spent the next decade recounting ever more fantastical details about the tiny landlocked nation in the Himalayas between China and India. Surely it was a mythical kingdom, he said, that bases its economy on gross national happiness, had a king who married four sisters and counts archery as the national sport.

Most boyhood obsessions come and go but this one stuck. So for his 18th birthday, my fifteen-year-old daughter and I left the flatlands of west London to fly with him past the extraordinary sight of Everest and K2 peeking out of the clouds and into the tiny airport of Paro.