NOTE TO READERS: This one is going to be a long one, in addition to the fact that it is not a very interesting subject for most. But given the painful times Bhutan's tourism industry is going through currently, I thought that perhaps there may be some pointers in how I do things. Time is here for us all tourism players to make up for the government's utter failures. We need to give our extra best!
Hi Professor and Katie,
Thank you for your mail --- and I am glad to hear that you have landed home safely. Amazing that you can still write such a long and exhaustive mail, even after such a long and continuous journey spanning tens of hours.
Thank you for your thoughts on your trip to Bhutan. I truly value it - not only that it gives me an idea of what visitors like and prefer, but also to dispel any misconceptions that we might have - given that we are in a cross-cultural situation and there will always be beliefs that can be wrongly conceived. Thus, truthful feedbacks can help correct those misconceptions. As you say, your feedback will help me better serve my future guests.
Binturong - one of Bhutan's rare Mammals. It was sighted on the road between Tingtibi to Dakphai in Zhemgang on 15th March, 2023. The mammal is listed as "Vulnerable" in the IUCN's Red List. The Binturong is the only living species in the genus Arctictis.
I am glad that my team and I have been able to give you some semblance of an enjoyable experience in Bhutan. We do try our best - to attempt to give you the very best of experience. But we cannot always get it right 😢. We seek your forgiveness for our failings - we hope that there have not been too numerous.
Yes, I too am amazed, and happy that you have been able to sight your famous Binturong 😍. Wonders never cease!!! If I have learnt anything in my 69 years of life, it is that one should never write-off anything - everything is a possibility.
FOOD & ACCOMMODATION
I am glad that you think the accommodation and food we served you were PERFECT – except in one location. That has always been at the core of my worries in the provision of service to my guests. I have heard of so many complaints from tourists on the poor quality and limited variety of food across the whole of Bhutan. But like I told you during one of our casual conversations - that may be because most of the tourists are treated to buffet meals by their hosts. I personally abhor the idea of serving buffet meals - it means that you are made to eat something that is not of your own choice. I believe that people must eat meals of their choice – thus my strict instruction to my guide is that guests should be served A-La-Carte meals at all times. NEVER BUFFETs!!!
You may be happy to know that I have told my guide that the location at which you were not entirely happy - should be off the list of properties we will use in future. As you have seen yourself, I always inspect the properties I intend to use for my guests - but I seem to have failed to fathom the failure of this one property.
I think I did mention to you at one point that Wi-Fi access in rooms is generally said to be poor. I am told that the Internet connectivity is much better and faster around the Reception area. For the life of me, I cannot understand why this should be so. I believe that it is because the hotel owners take a very casual attitude towards the problem. If they can make it fast enough in the Reception area, they can make it the same in the rooms. I suppose this is one of the enduring peculiarities of the Bhutanese people, that is beyond understanding.
Thank you - I am glad that you did not find us wanting in the provision of logistics. Thank you for a PERFECT rating.
I am glad that you found the trip to Taktsang and Chhimi Lhakhang worth your while. I would have certainly dissuaded you from making the visits - but for the fact that the government decided to roll back their policy on monument fees, in time. Consequent upon the change in policy of the government, my company will absorb the fees - guests will not be asked to pay the monument visitation fees. Because I believe that the high SDF government is charging is more than painful already.
I am glad that you liked the experience. I agree - we should promote it as an opportunity to sight some unique shore birds. The problem though is that during summer months when the rivers swell to about five times that which you have seen, the rafting approaches the class of white-water rafting and, thus, the experience is of a different kind. Also during the summer months, the migratory birds can no longer be sighted since they would have gone back to their summer roosting grounds.
Indeed!!!! That is why Bhutan is known as one of the Ten Global Biodiversity Hotspots of the world. Our avifauna multiplicity is phenomenal, as you have already experienced.
In the past Bhutan was called the Birding Capital of the world, by the world birding community, including the opportunity to experience some truly stunning alpine wilderness. Unfortunately, with the recent introduction of US$200.00 per person per day as SDF, these long duration unmatched High Value tourism experiences have been rendered untenable - it is sad indeed!
But we tourism stakeholders are all praying hard that the government would realize the folly of their act and think of a reasonably acceptable SDF rate. Most of Bhutan’s economic activity hinges on tourism, a fact that would have dawned on them by now.
NATURE WALK EN-ROUTE TO GASA
I am glad you liked it. Unfortunately the only animal you saw was the Assamese Macaque - but glad to know that the profuse of birdlife you sighted more than made up for the lack of animal sightings.
I am thrilled that you found the experience in Tingtibi “super super beautiful and the camping by the river was tops. Highly recommend”. Unfortunately for you, it was the wrong season - otherwise I would have treated you to the unique experience of fishing for the king of the freshwater fish - the endangered Golden Mahseer. I am among the country’s top record holders of the fish - at 27 KGs. Imagine the thrill of trying to reign in a maddened monster on a death run!
Indeed Phobjikha is my most favorite place of visit - particularly during the winter months. The place is almost surreal, with the cold, dense mist suspended in mid-air - it makes for a perfect picture. Sadly the time of your visit was past the Black-necked Cranes season, so the allure of the place was lessened by that much. Perhaps next time - there is always a next time.
YOUR GENEROUS TIP
Lastly, THANK YOU for your generous tip of Nu.10,000.00 you left for me. That was very kind of you. However, I would like to inform you that I passed on the whole tip to your guide. I believe that it is the service team who deserve, if they do, any tip from my satisfied guests. As the owner of the host company I am expected to generate my profits from the business operation - not from tips. Tips are earned by the service team. I gave the whole tip to the guide because the driver is the owner of the TOYOTA Prado that he was driving you in. He is already an economically competent person - he does not need any additional tips - in addition to that which you already gave him, separately.
Also I am more than happy for the GOODWILL earned from you two. That, to me, is the most generous tip any tour operator can receive - it is more than any monetary profits.
Bye and take care - I hope that we will continue to keep in touch. I am honored to be in touch with people of such rarified sciences such as those in which two of you are engaged. Bhutan is fortunate that we can attract people of your caliber.