Central Traffic Circle

Thimphu’s main traffic circle, where Norzin Lam intersects Chhoten Lam near Clock Tower Square, offers a fun, only-in-Bhutan peculiarity that takes only a moment to see.

Standing next to the circle’s traditionally designed wood framed gazebo is a traffic policeman with a twist. Donned in military cap, navy blue topcoat, and matching white gloves and shin coverings, he directs automobile traffic from dawn to dusk with sweeping choreographed gestures, all solemnly and precisely executed.

“Directs” does not entirely capture it, though. More often than not, his movements seem to have little discernible effect on how traffic would flow without him. But that’s just part of the charm. As are the dogs lying on the part of the circle leading to the National Memorial Chorten, sleeping the day away as cars whiz past.

Bhutan by decree has no traffic lights, so this policeman won’t be replaced by technology anytime soon. But there may be less need for him when the south section of central Norzin Lam is converted to a pedestrian-only walkway. See him now while you can.

By the way, it’s probably best not to ask for pictures with him — he does have a job to do, after all — but pictures and smiles from any distance are welcome.