[email protected]: Michael Hawley
Bhutan is the last intact Himalayan kingdom. Roughly the size of Switzerland but with a population of about 700,000 people, Bhutan may be diminutive, yet it is home to one of the most astonishingly diverse natural and cultural ecologies on earth. It is often called "the last Shangri-la" and with good reason. The pristine environment and incomparably kindhearted people make this a truly extraordinary place. The book, Bhutan, is a visual odyssey across the kingdom. Teams from M.I.T. and Friendly Planet took over 40,000 photographs on four extensive expeditions across the country. They flew by helicopter, rode mountain ponies, trekked with packhorses and yaks, and journeyed by caravan on farflung roads and foot trails across the Bhutanese Himalaya. Local students, like Choki Lhamo (a 14-year-old girl from Trongsa who aspires to become a doctor) and Gyelsey Loday (the son of the head lama in the village of Phongmey), joined these ambitious trips and helped with the photography in order to share a corner of their world. The stunning imagery in the book loosely follows these journeys. Portraits of people are lifesized (or bigger). Panoramas convey some of the staggering sweep of the mountains and the awesome ancient architecture. This event took place September 14, 2007 at Google in Boston.