Little is known about the introverted country called Bhutan. Living in its own secular place in our globalised world where a trend is only one tik tok away, it can be strange to hear that one place wants nothing to do with the fast pace of the west.
Thimphu, Bhutan’s main capital city known for its sprawling valleys and beautiful buddhist structures have always drawn in the crowds and curiosity of many. Personal anecdotes from visitors of the place, describe Bhutan as a peaceful country content in its preservation of the bhuddhist culture and pristine landscape. It’s in no hurry in becoming ‘modernised’. So for some, the traffic there can be a new experience unto itself.
A few years ago, the use of motor vehicles was expanding, albeit not as exponential as the rest of the world but it was enough to call for some major roadwork upgrades.
Introducing…. The Stoplights.
Invented in 1914, these lights have dictated most of the traffic flows in our lifetime. In fact we spend about a total of 56 hours a year, according to a telegraph article. That’s a lot of sitting and looking up at a set of blinking, colourful lights that we can’t even do some disco boogying to.
But for the Bhutanese people quite had enough of the lights once they were installed. Known as the happiest people in the world, the fact that lights weren’t capable of smiling was quite a sore point for the locals, so sore of a point that they managed to kick up a fuss to have it taken down.
The lights were then replaced by strappy policemen known by their distinct white gloves and a sharp uniform. These suited up traffic lights have become a beloved icon in the area with a smoothness to their knifelike arm signals, they manage to cut through the confusion and shepherd the mass of vehicles into a functioning rhythm.
These individuals can be found in every major intersection housed in miniature pagoda-esque stations that are placed smack bang on the road. With their help, it seems like a driver’s paradise with no clogged up traffic reported. With the way things are going, maybe we can learn a little thing or two from our Thimphu friends.
Bio: Sidney Boen is an energetic 1st gen Indo-Chinese Aussie with a penchant for food. She’s going into her last year in her Bachelor of Digital and social media with her eyes set on the marketing world. Loving food and travel with a voracious appetite for media and writing, she’s always out for the next interesting read. Currently working as part of the ABC News program team and a contributor to UTS Central News.