Nathalie Kelley’s Sojourn in Bhutan
When Nathalie Kelley first arrived in Bhutan, she turned a lot of heads but not necessarily because people knew who she was. “Who is this beautiful chilip?”was the usual enquiry. But the words ‘Hollywood actress’ were enough to get everyone even more excited about this Amazon beauty.
In the far off Kingdom of Bhutan, it isn’t every day that you see a movie celebrity strutting out of the tiny Paro International airport. That said, there have been a handful of surprise visits in the past.. Who can forget the Leonardo visits Bhutanrage on Facebook a few years ago? It was mostly the urban movie buffs who recognized Nathalie Kelley from her movies like Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift and her appearance in Bruno Mars’ music video Just the Way You Are— but she didn’t mind the attention.
Nathalie Kelley was invited to Bhutan by MyBhutan, an organization that creates social enterprises to support the philanthropic activities of the Tarayana Foundation. Nathalie will be featured in a trailer for MyBhutan’s web portal. The portal will launch in spring 2015 and is expected to be Bhutan’s first one-stop travel portal that provides the fastest, most cost-effective way to visit the Land of the Thunder Dragon. There was a lot of work scheduled for her but that didn’t stop this beautiful adventurer from getting a personal taste of Shangrila.
“My first impression of Bhutan was a place where two worlds collided: there is an ancient world and a modern world coming together. The natural beauty of the mountains, farmhouses, and people in traditional dress intersects with people speaking fluent English on cell phones.” The actress’ natural beauty, her outlook and ethos on life, and her connection to nature all set her apart from other western typecast celebrities. “The first thing that grabbed me was the natural beauty because it’s the one thing that I’m drawn to the most. Even when I was looking out of the plane’s window I was like, ‘Oh my god, this place is amazing’… the vastness of the mountains, the remote monasteries and the greenery, even in winter, is spectacular.
The second thing that really stood out for me was the warmth of the people. I must say the greeting I r eceived at the airport by the MyBhutan team was the best ever. Everyone is so welcoming! I may risk sounding like a silly westerner but one of the best things about the Bhutanese is that they speak English — that is very important in order to connect with the people. I’m somebody who has to ask a lot of questions and craves personal connections. In most parts of Asia where people don’t speak English it’s difficult to get your personality across or to understand the other person’s personality. In Bhutan, I felt I could just dive right in and make friends here. In less than two weeks, I really do feel I made some life-long friends. So, for me this was the best thing.”
Like most first-time visitors, Nathalie was drawn to some of the unique things about Bhutan. “When I first heard about the Gross National Happiness index, I was quite curious. How do you measure happiness? But when I arrived here I felt it straight away. It’s palpable…people are happy here. I felt a real sense of being content here. Maybe it’s the natural beauty. And I’ve heard that Bhutanese like to travel abroad but everybody comes back. There’s this sense of being one family, tight-knit and everybody knowing each other. I really felt it as a place of harmony and that’s a really nice energy to slip into.”