Dogster ? Bhutan

Feb 27th, 2008, 10:50 AM
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 2,138
LOVED this report!!! Best I've read in a while. Can't believe I missed it the first few times around.

Had me laughing out loud, partly because you brought back my memories of horrible guides. I agree with the others, it makes a great read and should be published.

I do realize that you never intended this to be a dump-on-Bhutan fest, but you've confirmed my suspicions. I've considered Bhutan several times, but it always seems to land back in the lower-middle of my wish list.

Hate to think you would have kept this all bottled up if jules39 hadn't asked!
Femi is offline  
Feb 27th, 2008, 11:12 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 32,991
Femi, do read Robbietravels trip report on Bhutan. These two reports together really show the two sides of Bhutan travel.
Kathie is online now  
Feb 27th, 2008, 02:20 PM
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 2,138
Thanks for pointing it out Kathie. I've been a lot busier lately, hadn't realised I missed so much.

Well, the juxtaposition of the two trips just goes to show:

-A guide can definitely make or break your trip.

-As Dogster has pointed out you can't win 'em all.

-Different strokes for different folks.

-What makes Fodor's such a great resource.
Femi is offline  
Mar 11th, 2008, 08:19 AM
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Posts: 6,892
While hunting around for ideas for my next trip, I stumbled on this - great report. I know you're in India right now, Dogster but now I understand where you are coming from re: guides. That was one nasty experience to be sure...
Craig is offline  
May 10th, 2008, 03:51 AM
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 80
Thank you Dogster for this very helpful inside information. Incidentally, I still aim to go to Bhutan this Autumn!! BUT ...

I read your account with fascinated interest. At last ... I realize that I am not the only one who has trouble with the majority of guides!! So much so that when I book a car and driver, I REFUSE to have a guide. There are exceptions, of course, e.g. Anker Wat. From past experience I have gradually come to the conclusion that guides are there for their own benefit (and they just love to sit in the front with the driver and then they can talk to each other - and when the poor driver has had enough, they remain constantly on the mobile phone). How brave we can be to interrupt that telephone conversation!!

In practice, I find that once you get rid of the guide, the driver becomes very helpful and often speaks a little English - this, with the help of a good guide book, is far more successful than trying to understand the guide (who often may speak a little English - but certainly never understands it!!)
I really must write a book about my experiences with taxi drivers and car-hire drivers - including a 74 day hire in Northern India (naturally without a "guide").

Now for my trip to Bhutan. I thank you very much for the information re Glenbur - I will certainly pursue that option. I really would like to motor either into or out of Bhutan - and this could be the answer.

I now have to find a car/driver in Bhutan who could take me to the places I (not he) would like to go.
Has anyone any recommendations about how I could go about this, please. Ideally, I would like to be picked up at the Indian/Bhutan border and carry on into Bhutan. I presume one has to pre-book accommodation in that country? I rather hope not!!

Many thanks.


01pat23 is offline  
May 14th, 2008, 10:13 PM
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 1,025
I represent the counterpoint to Dogster's Vacation from Hell (and have expressed my personal condolences to him after recovering from convulsive laughter at his wry account). We all have probably experienced the good, the bad and the ugly in the guide department.
I've had my share of guides who I actually paid to go away so I could stop their relentless, senseless prattle. But in Bhutan I don't think there are many free lance guides. For one thing they couldn't afford the expensive Land Cruisers (owned by tour operators) that are life savers on the roads.
When I made my arrangements with the tour operator I used, I was insufferably specific about the style, knowledge base and personal qualities I wanted in a guide... and I got just what I wanted.
Ditto, the things I wanted to see. I made it know that no matter how obliged the operator or guide felt about tourists seeing certain sights, I just wanted to see/do what I wanted to see/do and if they wanted a satisfied client, they would adhere to my requests. I believe I was kind, courteous and firm and I found the company totally responsive. I used Snow White Tours and thought they knocked themselves out to deliver the trip I wanted.

Robbietravels is offline  
May 15th, 2008, 01:13 AM
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 4,121
Heya Robbie: I'm in Dwarika's in Katmandu recovering from a bad case of traveller's bum.

But I just wanted to say that I stayed in the Robbietravels Suite 303 at Rashmi Guest House in Varanasi. The walls kept whispering your name. I feel EVEN closer to you now I've slept in the same bed.

Unfortunately for you and fellow smart posters in here, it's now been renamed The Dogster Suite.

This is because I am the only guest ever to have been dragged fully clothed INTO the Ganges by the owner's Great Dane.

This may, just possibly, be the subject of a future post.
dogster is offline  
May 15th, 2008, 05:00 AM
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 542
I don't mean to rub it in but our Bhutanese guide was one of the very best we've ever encountered. Our driver was so very courteous and after 10 days he was still opening and closing doors for my photography-mad husband with a big smile. So far our "guides from hell" experiences were in neighbouring China and India.
Our trip to Bhutan was the most amazing, scenery was fantastic, meals very tasty and everyone was warm, friendly and honest. We were never forced to visit shops like in China and we paid local prices for bottled water etc. BTW, we were free to snap photos just about everywhere.
Can you share with us Sumo's name? Thanks.
Cilla_Tey is offline  
May 15th, 2008, 05:40 AM
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Hey, Dogster! I'm looking forward to your comments on Kathmandu and Dwarika's as we plan to be there in October. I'm also looking forward to the story about the Great Dane dragging you into the Ganges!
Kathie is online now  
May 15th, 2008, 05:57 AM
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 4,121
Hi Cilla: As you'll note from the above, readers have to plough thru more than 95% of the original posts to even get the name of the tour company - and that was only mentioned once in an aside.

I guess if I was going to aim directly at an individual by name I would have already done it. That wasn't really the point.

dogster is offline  
May 15th, 2008, 06:54 AM
Original Poster
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I can't wait for the Great Dane story!! I will be watching for that post.
Hope you are recovering well in KTM Dogster.
jules39 is offline  
May 15th, 2008, 02:55 PM
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 542
I did plough through more than 95% and came across the tour company you mentioned. After posting I then searched and also found their response. I just want to forewarn friends and relatives. But no problem, I'll just describe him!
Cilla_Tey is offline  
Feb 14th, 2009, 04:34 AM
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 28
Dogster, I'm going to Bhutan next month and just found your tale after searching the site. I know it's a year old, and I feel sorry for your misadventures, but it was the most entertaining read I've had in a long time. You should look at publishing your tales and giving Bill Bryson a run for his money.
gwm is offline  
Feb 14th, 2009, 05:20 AM
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 4,121
Awww, gwm - what a surprise to see this old adventure back in the headlines. Thanks for bringing it back and your kind comments. I just know you'll have a great time. Well, I certainly hope so.

Just beware large young men with sunglasses and beanie.
dogster is offline  
Feb 14th, 2009, 07:34 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,281
Hi Dogster. I always love reading your experiences. They are especially funny when you have untoward experiences. Btw, next time you run across a guide that tries to set you up for a big tip, keep asking them nebulous questions like "What is the chemical composition of the chorten base?" or ask the decay rate for the carbon 14 that's in a very old structure. By the time the trip's over they'll be happy they got anything, lol.

Btw, good to see you again...seems you're not here too often
Mango7 is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2010, 03:05 AM
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 12,015
"Phuntsholing - Thimpu - Punakha - Wangdi" ... sounds like a tin can ricocheting off cobble stones. Or camel driver cussing. Either way, it's sure to be a good yarn for tomorrow's coffee break.
Thanks Dogster
Bokhara2 is offline  
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