Bruce Tibet Travel Story and Travel Experiences

Group Code: TSIF017DPZ Bruce
Guide: Gyaltsen

Language Skill – Very Good
Knowledge – Very good
Service attitude – Extremely good
Punctuality – Always early! (Extremely good)
Driver: Kalsang
Vehicle Condition – he was constantly wiping the windows so we could enjoy the views.
Service attitude – he was very accommodating
Driving skill – for the van we were riding, we were very impressed with the control he had of it. We were basically off-roading for most of the trip to the hot springs but he managed to give us a ride that was as smooth as possible. Also, the hairpins that we had to take up the mountain to the Gaden.
Namgyal Ling Monastery would be have challenging in a small sports car, but Kalsang was able to power up into them even with a manual-transmission minivan.
Punctuality – Always early! (Extremely good)

Review of the Tibet tour:
The tour was very well organized and we were so grateful to have Kalsang as our driver and Gyaltsen as our Tibetan tour guide – they both get 10 of 10! Not only were they extremely knowledgeable about their roles, they helped exposed us to Tibetan lifestyles outside of the special monuments we visited. We had Tibetan lunches in Tibetan restaurants and they provided us with a traditional breakfast of yak butter tea and a bowl of oatmeal-like crushed barley with cheese and yak butter tea. We also learned what a traditional outfit for Lhasa women looked like, how important it was for young children to receive ash-mark blessings from the Sera Monastery, and Gyaltsen also shared with us his personal life as a Tibetan.
Overall, we had a positively amazing experience. We are so glad to work with your tour company and would recommend you to anyone we know considering a trip to Lhasa.
Here are a few things we think might be helpful to improve the tours for future guests (especially Westerners):

1. A good way to combat altitude sickness is to drink carbonated soft drinks (like Coca-Cola), and then try to eat something before taking a brief nap.
2. We were pleased with the flexible schedule and that we managed to visit as many sites as we did. However, perhaps you can provide tourists a chart showing the different sites under different categories so they can pick and choose from the different categories what they would like to see or visit. For example, monasteries, nunneries, museums, natural sites (hot springs, lakes, rivers), koras, parks, etc. We got to visit many monasteries and we were happy to because they were listed as top visit picks from various travel books and websites, but a couple of monasteries would have been sufficient since so much of the buildings are inaccessible and only the chapels were open to us.

3. Let the tourist know that Old Town Lhasa would be the area to book a hotel for the most convenient and authentic visiting experience.
4. An improvement to the tour (which may or may not be in your control) is how we would have enjoyed more historical facts or architectural details about the different monuments. Gyaltsen did his best to provide us with the information he had and took us to the parts of the buildings we were able to visit, but the parts we found more interesting were how portions of the buildings were made of twigs and dyed red, why there was an area to step over whenever entering a doorway, or how strong yak hair fibers were when they were braided to create screening nets that hang on some parts of the outdoor areas, and when we were able to witness the monks chanting in an assembly hall at one of the monasteries. Information on lifestyles of the monks would also have been interesting. It was nice to have some glimpses while touring, but it would have been nice to know why and how some men become monks (past and present), how long they remain monks, and how they re-enter society.

5. It may be helpful to have a chart or drawing about the different kings and lamas and Buddhas and hat sects handy and ready to provide your tourists so they are prepared to follow when touring the different locations. Mostly only the chapels were open so we were able to see many statues, thrones, and tombs, and it was impressive to see how many there were, but people can easily get lost in all the names and numbers and dates.
6. We wish we didn’t have to miss festival times because watching cultural shows and performances are highlights for many visitors – it’s the easiest and fastest way for people to learn about history and about a culture. Are there dances or plays that are traditional to Tibetans? If there are upcoming specific festival dates, you should offer the information to tourists in case they are interested in arranging their visit around those dates.