Sunday, December 24, 2017

Service At The Highest Level – A Contineous Endeavor

A tour operator who aspires to provide service at the highest level continues to worry whether he/she has been able to deliver the best that is possible - long after the group has departed for home, and long after the profits have been banked in. As a person engaged in the service and hospitality industries, I have long recognized the correlation between right price for the right service. But once the preliminary stage is crossed - that of obtaining the asking price, my focus shifts to the most important part of the deal - that of preparing for the delivery of the asking service. In its pursuit, I become completely oblivious of the asking price. The price is no longer important.

Nothing should gratify a tour operator more than the praises of their satisfied clients.

Recently I had a couple group from USA for whom I arranged a 9-days trek to Jumolhari/Soe Yaktsa. At the end of the trek, they described my facilities thus:

“Our tent and facility were like a palace among shanties".

This was an obvious reference to my tent and other facilities, compared to those close to 40 tents that were pitched at Jangothang camp site.

 Extreme high altitude tent that can withstand gusts of upto 100 KMs/hour - comfortable at center height of 5'.10"

A whooping 580 lumens Dining/Kitchen LED Lantern

133 lumens Head lamps that can brighten up the whole forest

Extreme protection for the guests' luggage - no less than Pelican hard cases - photographed at Dochu-La with the Himalayan rage as the backdrop

Soft comfort for the head and neck - Premium goose down pillows proudly made in the USA

 Super high 340 lumens LED lamps that brighten up the entire tent

I need no further feed back from my clients on how I performed in the delivery of service. However, the guide is as important as the facilities you provide on a trek ---- so I sent a mail to my clients asking them to rank the guide’s performance. The following is what the husband wrote:


Xxxx Xxxxxxxx was a wonderful guide. He was very knowledgeable about the trails and terrain and weather. Xxxx Xxxxxxxx always told us what to expect and when we would arrive at different milestones or destinations. And he was very good about setting a hiking pace to fit our abilities. He seemed to work very well with the rest of the trail team. He is young and energetic, and sometimes very funny. For instance, when he heard his cell phone ring, he would excuse himself from our conversation by saying, “Oh, sorry, it’s the Prime Minister calling." Xxxx Xxxxxxxx took us on adventures we would never have dreamed of and left us with unforgettable memories.

So it seems that even my guide scored 100%. Thus the guide will remain a team member on my future treks.

In fact the clients were so happy that they donated US$ 4,765.00 to the Rotary Club of Thimphu - to do 2 filtered water supply project to Soe ECR in Jangothang and Bitekha school, Paro.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Service Above Self - Rotary Club of Thimphu's Humanitarian Projects III

Even as we were heaving a sigh of relief upon successful winding down of our Migraine Treatment Project II and Water Filter Projects, word reached us that our Solar Fencing Project was ready for handing over to the beneficiaries in Kheng Nimshong, Zhemgang.

Under funding from the Rotary Club of Handa, Japan, we had begun work on the installation of 7 KMs long solar fencing project in Kheng Nimshong. Not one to be caught tottering in indecision, the Club President Tsewang Rinzing drove to Zhemgang to handover the project to the Nimshong community. While there, he also handed over the SkyHydrant Water Filter Systems at Zhemgang Central School and Yebilaptsa Central School.

 Solar Fencing handed over to the community of Kheng Nimshong

Club President Rtn. Tsewang Rinzing flanked by the community members of Kheng Nimshong

Two years back, we had installed a similar but smaller (4 KMs long) project at Kheng Goleng. This project too was funded by the same Japanese Club - Rotary Club of Handa, Japan.

Proud donors from Japan stand by the Solar fencing project funded by them in Kheng Goleng

The Rotary Club of Thimphu’s core areas of focus are: Agriculture, Education and Health. The Members of the Rotary Club of Thimphu believe that there is a need to focus on agriculture production since we have the necessary conditions to grow whatever we need.

The pace at which the Rotary Club of Thimphu delivers projects is breath taking, literally. We need to slow down to catch some breadth but that is not how it is destined to be: we have 4 more projects that are in the pipeline.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Service Above Self - Rotary Club of Thimphu's Humanitarian Projects II

WATER – GIVER OF LIFE: Our planet earth is sometimes called the Blue Planet – a name derived from the color of water. All life forms on earth must draw sustenance from it; it is a life giver, it purifies and is a great source of strength. But it can also cause great destruction. The military have been known to use it as a weapon of annihilation, while in the hands of a healer, it holds the power to cure and mend.

The Bhutanese people know different forms of water by a number of names that differentiate one from the other: seas and oceans are called Jamtsho; large free flowing rivers are called Tsangchhu. Rivulets and small streams are called Rongchhu; while waterfalls take on the name of Zarchhu. Pools and ponds are known as Umchhu and, best among the best of waters are called Drupchhu: blessed water that emanate out of cavities of rocks and cliffs.

Water plays a variety of important roles in the life of a Bhutanese. In traditional Bhutan, every mother of a newborn must be fed water to re-condition her body from the ravages of childbirth. Every newborn must begin life on this earth by being cleansed by water – a ritual known as the Lhabtsang Thruesey.

Bhutanese also use water as burial grounds. Stillborn babies and children under five years of age, including those who die at age 81 are not cremated but put into woven cane baskets and wooden boxes and submerged into deep pools of rivers.

But the most important use of water is for drinking purpose. Water is central to healthy growth of children and adults alike. While Bhutan has the highest per capita availability of water in the region, access to clean and safe drinking water is a huge challenge. The problem of plenty has been caused mainly because of our geography. While settlements and farmlands are on hilltops, most waters are in the ravines at the bottom of the valleys. Thus there is paucity of accessible water, quite often forcing people to consume unsafe water that are not necessarily contaminated - but mostly muddy.

The Rotary Club of Thimphu became aware of the lack of safe drinking water in some of our rural schools. Thus, over the past 3 years, we have been endeavoring to help in the delivery of safe drinking water, particularly to schools in the rural areas. So far we have done close to 15 projects around the country.

It was during February this year that we were made aware of a filtration system that was unique and most ideal for Bhutan’s conditions. Called the SkyHydrant Water Filtration Systems, these industrial capacity water filters that are built like tanks, are capable of dispensing 12,000 ltrs. of clean and safe drinking water a day. Since the time the Malaysian Rotarian - Rtn. K K Looi - introduced us to this filter, we have been relentless in our pursuit at acquiring few units of these fabulous filtration systems, for installation in our schools.

The massive industrial sized SkyHydrant MAX Water Filter System that can churn out 12,000 lts. of clean drinking water per day

Late September of this year we were informed that a Disaster Aid Response Team (DART) Member from Disaster Aid Australia would be arriving Bhutan with 2 units of these fabulous filters. Mr. Andrew Gunn, a DART Member from Disaster Aid Australia arrived Bhutan on 30th September, 2017 – carrying with him two enormous packages of SkyHydrant filters. Since then, we have received further 4 units. As of now, we have installed these filters in the following schools:

Bongo Primary School, Chukha

 Dashiding Higher Secondary School, Punakha

Lobesa Lower Secondary School, Punakha

Yebilabtsa Central School, Zhemgang

Zhemgang Central School, Zhemgang

One more unit is due for installation at the Udzorong Central School, Trashigang - bringing the total installation of these great filters to 6 units so far. It is our hope that Disaster Aid Australia will continue to support us in delivering clean and safe drinking water to our school children around the country.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Service Above Self - Rotary Club of Thimphu's Humanitarian Projects I

The months of September, October, November and December were very busy months for the Rotary Club of Thimphu. I dare say that the number of projects we did during this period has to be a record in the Rotary world.

It began with our signature project - The Treatment of Migraine by Acupuncture Project II during late September to mid October. Although intended to treat migraine only, this project treated a total of 1,194 patients of a variety of ailments - from knock-knees to cerebral palsy. The treatments were carried out in three different places: Thimphu, Paro and Punakha.

The project received validation at the highest level when the two doctors and the translator from the US working on the Project were informed that they would be receiving a Royal Audience from the Great Drukgyal Zhipa! For the doctors, they were aware that there couldn’t be a greater honor than to meet and talk to a Monarch without parallel. For their act of charity, the Royal Audience is their just reward.

The famed Dr. Lin treating a patient

 Dr. Yu examining a monk at Punakha

 A training course in progress for the Drungtshos at the Traditional Medicine Hospital, Thimphu

Even while the Migraine Project was in full swing, I get the sweet, sweet news that the Disaster Aid Australia has agreed to gift us some units of SkyHydrant Water Filter Systems. Now this has got to be absolutely Karmic! Combine the adulation of having our project recognized at the highest level, with the news that we are going to get these awesome filters that we have been eying for a while --- you can guess that my ecstasy was nothing short of subliminal!

Life is looking GOOD!

Full report of the Project can be read at:

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Albinism or Leucism

Is this an Alibino or is the bird suffering from a genetic condition called Leucism? The bird on the right is obviously a Common Myna (Acridotheres tristis) – because I saw it foraging among Common Mynas in Tingtingbi, Zhemgang where I took this photo during my recent trip there. Except for its grayish/whitish coloring, the bird has the features of a Common Myna. But compare its colors to how a normal Common Myna is colored, on the left. I am tempted to believe that the bird is not an albino since you can see the presence of pigments. The other clue that should confirm it as Leucistic is its eye colors – they are normal colored and not pink or red that is typical in the Albinos.

Any views anybody? 

Whatever it is, it is still a bird