Meet the Team: Gembo
Our longest tenured tour guide, Gembo, is a patriotic Bhutanese who loves nature and traditional customs; so much so that every trek he leads doubles up as a cleaning campaign for him. Whether in a town or up in the mountains, Gembo is one of the few guides who still always dresses in the traditional Bhutanese attire. Originally from Trongsa, he started guiding in the year 1999 and has immense knowledge on Bhutan and its historical background; making him one of the most sought after guides in the country. Gembo lives in Thimphu with his wife, three sons and daughter.
The following are some excerpts from an interview with Gembo:
1. How long have you been a guide for? Why did you decide to become a guide?
Towards the end of 1998, I had to close down a video rental shop that I owned anticipating bankruptcy due to the legalization of channel TV and internet in the year 1999. After that, I started looking for jobs and guiding was what I opted for, a career choice driven by my love for the environment, our rich culture and the thirst to explore. I have been guiding ever since.
2. What do you like about guiding?
I love to meet different people from around the world and be able to share the amazing concept of Gross National Happiness with them. Meeting as strangers and departing as good friends is something I always look forward to before the start of every tour.
3. Why MyBhutan? What do you think MyBhutan does that is different from the rest?
I really appreciate how MyBhutan functions and I saw a very good future with MyBhutan. The way MyBhutan respects and promotes the country is what makes it different from the rest. I am really appreciative of how MyBhutan stresses on teamwork and how every member of the team is treated as an equal. As a service provider, I have seen firsthand how the welfare of every single guest is taken into consideration and how we are briefed before every tour to make sure we are aware of how best to provide our services. This is something different.
4. What makes you unique as a guide?
I have had the opportunity to attend almost all the famous festivals and visit countless sacred holy sites around the country. Whenever I am with my guests, whether taking a leisurely stroll in a market or up in the mountains trekking, I always make sure I am in our national attire and, I also pick up garbage everywhere I go. These are simple everyday set of disciplines that I have adopted as a concerned Bhutanese citizen, something that somehow differentiates me from the rest.
5. Any memorable guiding experience you would like to share with us?
In the last two decades of my guiding career, I have had countless experiences which I hold close to my heart but my most memorable experiences will have to be the helicopter trips to the high Himalayas of northern Bhutan and visits to the Royal Manas National Park.
6. Which is your favorite part of Bhutan? Why?
Bumthang valley — the spiritual heartland of the country. I like it for its beauty and the numerous sacred sites. So much to see and feel in this beautiful valley in central Bhutan.
WRITTEN BY KARMA YONTEN
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANDREW STUDER