From environment to culture, from cleanliness to faith, Bhutan amazes you with at every step. We headed to the land of the Thunder Dragon for the first vacation after our wedding, and had the fortune of meeting the amazing Chimmi Dorji (not the football player), our cab driver and tourist guide (by default).
With an extremely regulated tourism framework and the rich culture that Bhutan offers, meeting amazing people is something that just happens. But Chimmi was simply amazing.
We got his reference from an ex-colleague who had visited the place in the past. We connected with him over email and Chimmi was always very responsive and helped us plan the entire vacation.
For all of you planning to explore a new place, if you can get an advice from a trusted local, nothing better than that!
The expected costs were all shared upfront and were respected on arrival. He was always waiting for us 30 mins before our expected departure time. One day we planned to head to the Dochula pass to catch the amazing sunrise. The plan was to leave at 4:30 am and he called us from outside our hotel at 3:45am itself.
He has amazing knowledge on the history, culture and significance of the Dzongs and the country in general. He has lots of personal stories and anecdotes to share.
He drove a blue Hyundai Santro back then, which at a total mileage of 1,73,000 kms on the odometer was maintained and ran as good as new. Says something about his way of living. He planned to drive it for another 25,000 kms before selling it off and wanted to upgrade to an Ertiga.
He was kind enough to trek all the way up to the Tiger’s Nest monastery with us. Over the course of the climb, as our energy levels dropped and legs starting giving up, he became our porter too, with a smile. First we handed over our backpack, then the water bottles and eventually he even offered to take our jackets. While we were dead tired and catching our breath every now and then, he just strolled all the way up and down, with all the extra luggage, chanting his verses and counting his beads which he always carried with him.
While all that is written above is already amazing, what makes us still remember him and refer him to anyone visiting Bhutan was one specific incident. A couple who is a very good friends of ours had hired him on their Bhutan trip by our reference. They also had an amazing experience and were all praises after returning back to India.
A couple of days after they had returned, Chimmi called us. It was already more than a year since we had last met him and we were rather surprised to get a call from him. Maybe our friends left something behind in his car? But no, the reason was something different.
While our friends had made their final payments to him before leaving, there had been a slight calculation error. He had mistakenly charged Rs. 150 extra (~$2) and was extremely apologetic about it. We tried our best to pacify him that it was a non-issue and that the amount was meager.
But he was adamant that he apologizing is the only correct thing to do as we had referred someone and he shouldn’t break our trust in him and in Bhutanese people. He even went out of his way and offered to transfer the money back to us. After a lot of deliberation, we agreed that he will return the money when we return to Bhutan next or if one of our friends visits the country.
On our part, he did end up exploring a couple of places in Bhutan which he had never visited before. That might just have been our small return gift for him.
In our opinion, he’s the go-to person while visiting Bhutan and we couldn’t have found anyone better. Would you like to hire him for your Bhutan trip? Would you like to read our detailed Bhutan experience? Do let us know in the comments below.
And don’t forget to get back our Rs.150 too 🙂