With preparations for the upcoming Royal Bhutan Flower Exhibition (RBFE) in full swing, Samdrupjongkhar thromde is filled with colours these days.

The dzongkhag, thromde, regional officials and other stakeholders are all engaged for an exhibition, which is scheduled to open on February 21 coinciding with the birth anniversary of His Majesty The King.

The theme for the fifth RBFE is ‘Clean and beautiful spaces’.

The thromde and volunteers have been preparing for the exhibition since June last year. The main exhibition will be held at the Tendrelthang.

The main plantation for the exhibition started on January 10 with the plantation of 1,710 saplings of plants and flowers around the town areas.

Since the areas in the town were allocated to the concerned stakeholders, they are taking care of the flowers. There are micro-gardens in strategic locations and also 15 macro gardens on 9.75 acres of land.

About eight nurseries have been set up in Samdrupjongkhar and flowers are mostly raised in those nurseries. Some flowers were collected locally while some purchased from private nurseries. There are over 100,000 different flowers and plants.

With the flower exhibition, shopkeepers and hoteliers in Samdrupjongkhar are hopeful for good business, as their businesses have not been doing well after the opening of Nganglam- Gyalpoizhing highway.

A hotelier, Neten Wangmo, said she has been running her business in loss because most customers from Mongar and Lhuntse directly travel to Phuentsholing via the Nganglam- Gyalpozhing highway. “I am thinking of giving up my lodge because there is no one to stay in but I hope my business would do well during the exhibition,” she said.

A resident, Karma Wangmo, 45, said she wanted to visit the first flower exhibition but could not, as it was difficult to travel with children. “I am happy that the exhibition is being held in Samdrupjongkhar. I will take all my family members to the exhibition.”

Tshewang Rinzin, 21, from Menchari in Orong gewog, said since the Menchari pottery group is new, they could not sell any pots. “We hope the business would do well as we will display the products and also demonstrate pottery during the exhibition.”

Meanwhile, Clean Bhutan collected more than 50 metric tons of waste from whole Samdrupjongkhar town areas and along the Dungsamchu. Volunteers from Red Cross, desuups, and students are involved in the cleaning campaign.

The executive director of Clean Bhutan, Nedup Tshering, said they started the cleaning campaign since the last week of January.

To commemorate the birth anniversary of His Majesty The King, taxi drivers in Samdrupjongkhar would provide free rides on February 21.

The executive member of Bhutan Taxi Association (BTA), Kelzang Jigme, 44, said they would give free transport service to people from Dewathang to Samdrupjongkhar and also local transportations if needed. “About 27 taxis have registered to date and we are hoping to register about 40 taxis for the service.”

He said that since the thromde has been engaged in preparation works, they decided to provide free transport service, as they could not take part in the preparation works.

It was learnt that Samdrupjongkhar was chosen for the exhibition in light of the historic and geographic importance of the border town, which serves as one of the gateways to the country.

The exhibition is expected to promote the local economy in floriculture and support small businesses.

The exhibition is free for Bhutanese while non-Bhutanese adults and students will be charged Nu 300 and Nu 50 each. Entry for non-Bhutanese children below five years is free.

Kelzang Wangchuk | Samdrupjongkhar