Village tour of Western Bhutan
My husband was not sure about the Haa valley part before the trip but after we did it, we was happy to have been there as myself. For me this was among my highlights. I wished I could have seen more of this beautiful country, the Eastern part and Southern part also, but for the time we had, we are happy of what we’ve seen. As I said to our guide Sonam, some of the visits listed in the itinerary (village visits, enjoy a tea with local people – mainly in Punakha surroundings), haven’t been done and it was a deception for me because the choice of this tour was in part because of the interactions we would have had with local people. As I told him before Haa valley, he followed the itinerary planned for this part. ;o) Also, instead of visiting the Textile Academy & Museum he brought us to a small place where we could see persons weaving. It was interesting but as we have asked a lot about different fabrics, we would have preferred visiting Textile Academy & Museum. We thought we could visit it before leaving Thimphu, but it was closed that day. Sonam told us that the reason for this choice was that we could not see people weaving at the Textile Academy & Museum. We thought it was an Academy and tourists we met on the road, told us they saw some. Anyway. Just to make sure that when something is suggested in replacement of a visit, all the information is given to the customer.
After sharing many meals with Kunmar in Nepal, on this trip, it was the opposite. It would have been great if Sonam and Tenzing/Sonam could have joined us during meals, at least in some occasions.
As for the lodge in Haa valley, it was awesome! Really! And the cook is quite a good chef. Keep this place on your list, it is such a good experience. We also liked all the hikes we did in different areas. Jean-Sebastien realized with this trip (2 tours) that he would have liked to hike more in the mountains in order to see more mountain tops. The ones we saw were breathtaking.
Finally, we also have a another comment to make because we felt not at ease of the situation and think it have given a different taste to the rest of our trip in Bhutan. When arriving at the hotel in Punakha, our guide informed us that our driver (Sonam #2 for us because the guide was also Sonam) had to leave us in order to drive a group arriving the day after and another driver (Tenzing) would replace him for the rest of our trip. While Tenzing was a good driver, very nice and helpful during the rest of our trip, we found it strange to change drivers so quickly. Also, as we didn’t know in advance, we did not have enough money to tip him on the spot and during the evening, we decided to wait at the of the trip to give him, through Sonam (guide) his tip just to sort the tipping once at the end. It seems that this situation also affected Sonam (our guide) because for the rest of the trip, he was not the smiling person and talking a lot from the beginning. Even though I’ve asked him if we have done something that could have offended him, he said no, nothing. But still, I imagine he wouldn’t say : well, yes, you didn’t give tip to Sonam (driver)… So, in the future, we would recommend, if it is possible, to avoid this kind of switch for this reason. Sonam has been good for us and gave us information regarding all our technical questions.
We didn’t know Windhorse before booking and we were a bit worried to pay the amount of money without being sure that the company really existed (many scam companies exist on the Web), but the pre-trip discussions with especially Ugen and Jambay reassured us. You have a good customer service. ;o)
Thank you all for the trips you provided to us, it has been a marvelous experience. Take care
Jean-Sebastien and Lucie