- Posted March 1, 2012 by
Courtenay, British Columbia
This iReport is part of an assignment:
A Great Guide Makes for Great Adventure in Bhutan
Travel journalism tends to be written in the first person. However, behind every story, there is usually a highly competent professional guide that allows the traveller to avoid becoming a danger to both themselves and others.
One of the many benefits of travel is that it exposes you to new experiences. As such, you need to realize that you are probably not going to be completely familiar with all of the manners and customs in most foreign locales. It's one thing to puzzle over the function of some strange looking object in the bathroom of your hotel room and quite another to figure out how to successfully navigate the exotic landscape of another country. That's where a proper guide is priceless.
Taking a close-up photo of a yak on a hiking trail in India? Bad idea as yaks have been known to fatally gore those who block their way. Thinking of cooling off by immersing yourself in a still stretch of water in the Amazon Basin? Not wise as piranhas and electric eels tend to congregate in such spots. A guide helps to prevent these pitfalls.
Having a guide was mandatory in Bhutan. Our guide, Jamyung (pictured above), enhanced our appreciation and enjoyment of his country. Whether acclimatizing us to high altitude in preparation for a trek or acting as our escort at a Bhutanese movie premiere where we sat amongst a group of Buddhist monks who were dressed in their traditional saffron robes, Jamyung was there to assist and educate without being obtrusive.
During a trek on the Druk Path, the guide allayed our concerns when we awoke one morning to find our tent surrounded by a herd of yaks. There are few things that focus the mind more than trying to make your way through a large number of imposing animals on the hoof in order to answer the call of nature.
Later on, Jamyung served as our interpreter when we interacted with the family that tended to the yak herd. This allowed us to gain some understanding of the challenges faced by the local people as they try to both survive and earn a living in the harsh environment of the Himalayan foothills.
When our time in Bhutan drew to a close, Jamyung and his manager postponed our departure from the capital city of Thimphu to make sure that we made it safely along a road that had recently been damaged by landslides. He also helped us with the finer points of Bhutanese-Indian border bureaucracy so that we could travel onward to Darjeeling with a minimum of hassle.
After every trip, I make sure that I document the name of our guide(s) in each photo album. This serves to recognize the significant contribution that these individuals make to the overall adventure travel experience.