Addressing addresses

I’m going to the wedding too, remarked my friend, can you tell me where it is?

I told him that the happy event was taking place opposite the RSPN’s old office, below the new Norling building in lower Changangkha.

My friend’s blank look promoted me to continue: at the Chubachu roundabout take the road to Motithang; drive by the DHL office towards the RICB colony, but don’t go all the way to the colony; take the road that goes to the new road leading to the YDF complex; before you reach the new road, you’ll see a lot of vehicles; the wedding is somewhere around there…

Giving directions in Thimphu can be interesting. Landmarks, such as the clock tower, taxi parking, milk booth, pani tanki, swimming pool, main traffic and Memorial Chorten are used together with the locations of businesses, institutions and well known residences to guide people to specific places.

It’s surprising that we still don’t have proper addresses in Thimphu. A street name and a house number are all that a person really needs to find any place in this small city of ours. But for some odd reason, we haven’t been able to name our roads and number our houses. Actually our roads have names, but most of us don’t know them – without house numbers there’s no need to use them.

So it’s not easy finding your way around Thimphu, especially if you’re visiting. And, if you are a resident, you can’t receive mail unless you have a post office box or you use your office address. But DHL won’t deliver to your post office box, and international application forms won’t accept your papers without a proper address.

The Centre for Bhutan Studies, by the way, has an interesting address – it’s P.O Box 1111, Thimphu. But to visit CBS: go to Langjophakha; drive towards Dechhenchholing; take the road towards the Indian Embassy; take a left about 200m before the bridge and oppostite the double-storied traditional Bhutanese house.

Street names and house numbers … can it be that difficult?


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  1. This is really funny… and true! I had such a hard time locating places last year, when I was working with MOWHS, esp. with all the construction in town. At the same time, directions by landmark are very charming.

  2. Ha ha ha…
    Imagine yourself driving around T/phu in a car equipped with GPS.
    The system might say something like this;
    “Drive two houses down the main traffic,when you reach the chorten, turn right at the first diversion, your destination is above Dasho somebody’s house next to the black rock.” ha ha ha ha….

    On a serious note, it is indeed a serious matter. Thimphu is fast growing and soon finding directions would be impossible. Imagine somebody had an emergency and needed to call for the cops or the ambulance. It would arrive the next day.
    I think this needs some serious consideration. Thimphu is not a well planned city with Lanes, avenues and streets. It’s more of a haphazard town that grew without any systemized planning. This might prove to be a difficult one in the future.

  3. Hon'ble OL, though serious, forget about other issues. Trying to address all issues together will lose the focus. Focus on the most dangerous thing that PM is doing: Planning to Award contract to Christoper Benninger without Tender. It is white collar corruption of organized crime in the country. Millions of Nu. is taken by high level leaders in commission. So until, you address it boldly. I will keep bugging you and repeating my point:

    Christoper Benniger leads a white collar, highly organized corruption in Bhutan. Thimphu Structural Plan and Supreme Court desgins are both failure (not able to deliver on time and costing huge). In the case of Supreme Court plan, Christoper Benninger makes contractor required to buy for example, CGI sheets from India but has to root through Singapore (making it seem like from Singapore) and a Minister approves it (many ministers it seems indirectly). Why? Commission, commission, huge commission. Commission like that is a white collar corruption. Also openly discussed at:

    PM talks about learning from past mistakes. Why rewarding and repeating past mistakes deliberately and intelligently if it is not corruption? Or is even PM involve in this white collar corruption? Bhutanese society is not stupid.

    Opposition Leader, please do something about it. Only you have the boldness and courage to face the PM. I don't like you personally but I admire your courage for the good of the country. I may not like you but my children will appreciate you for making their future clean. I voted for DPT and supported PM but now I am losing faith in him.

    Do something!

  4. what coincidence…the other day we had a discussion on the development of “standards for a taxi driver”. And one of the elements of competencies was to have sound knowledge on the streets of local town, because a good taxi driver must be able to reach the customer(a resident or a foreigner)where ever he/she wants to go and this is part of the service. We had thorough discussion on the use of street names which they are suppose to know…there are street names but nobody uses it or even knows about it. We always use some famous reference points…a school, a dasho or a lyonpos house, an office or a famous shop etc. But how do we capture this in our standards? How can we assess the drivers on this?…one must be a local resident to know this. But many people visit thimphu and they need to move around. We actually need a local map which is easily available for everyone to use with all the street names, blocks and reference points. As the town grows, public services and facilities must improve otherwise it would be one big confused and hapahzard system that we will be developing. Coming back to my point…i think it is high time we have a good system to locate places since this has implications on our daily lives and moreso on our growing tourism industry…so high time we do something about it.

  5. hi… I work in TCC and there is a proposal to assign PIN numbers…. I know it is quite difficult to get around Thimphu (especially with all these road diversions with frequent maintenence).

    anyways, hoping for the best!!!!

  6. The Universal Postal Union (UPU) sent a few weeks ago a specialist in addressing to Bhutan Post. For the towns she (it was a lady) did not foresee too many problems, but the country side would be challenging. Happily enough there are the primary rural landmarks like the nice gup’s offices, schools and BHUs. Let’s see what is the resulting advice to Bhutan post will be.

  7. Tshering Tobgay says

    Actually the UPU expert will find that it is surprisingly easy to develop addresses in the “countryside”. Most Bhutanese villages have names for every nook and corner of the village. It’s not uncommon to visit a place (with a proper name) and find that it has only one house.

    My village Dorithasa has only 18 houses. But within the village you’ll find Thomji, Jana, Jow Gongtse, Chorten Gong, Beno gongkha, Rigokha, Chutsekha, Rigochang, Ngetsekha, Duenshegongkha, Rebji, Jortena, Benjana, Tatokkha, Bozophakha, Shingpuchen, Dophuchen, Jachenkha, Taktsena, Boenshikha and many more places.

    If anything, your expert will find too many landmarks!

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