A Tale of Two Kingdoms

When I first set foot in Bhutan 16 years ago, the "Land of Hidden Treasures" defined its relation to development very simply: it was not, and would never become, Nepal. "Women who will have sex with anyone. Pot, marijuana. People sleeping in the street"—I can still remember a Bhutanese official's voice shaking as he described the "low-class" foreigners his nation had watched streaming into its Himalayan neighbor. Nepalmed by what had come in through its open doors, a Kathmandu that had, up till 1955, barely seen a road was cluttered with Nirvana Tours agencies, 50-cents-a-night flophouses and restaurants promiscuously serving "lasagna,...

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