A Q&A with WanderTours participant, Kim Glazebrook.
Kim was a participant on our Spring, 2013 tour to Bhutan. The tour was a life changing experience for Kim. See why…
Q. For how long were you interested in going to Bhutan? What was the draw for you?
A. I started looking into Bhutan travel after a trip to Nepal in 2010, as I wanted to again experience the Buddhist culture and visit a place that is not a typical tourist destination. I found the WanderTours itinerary and it sounded wonderful.
Q. Did it live up to your expectations, and if yes, how so?
A. Bhutan pushed me outside of my comfort zone and was an experience in adaptability. On the day we arrived, we witnessed a rock slide that blocked the road between Paro and Thimpu. We spent the night in Paro and were treated to hot stone baths and a massage. The schedule was adjusted slightly to make up the time.
In Punakha, part of the group went for a walk before dinner. We took a turn off the road and walked through a small farming area where children were playing soccer. Because we were slightly lost, a group of little girls led us through the rice paddies back to the road to the hotel.
In Bumthang it rained and we lost power at night; thank goodness there were wood burning stoves in the rooms. And although the bathroom was very cold, hot water makes up for a lot! It also snowed and we could not complete a planned hike. Instead, we spent time with a very hospitable local family in their home having tea and homemade snacks, singing and (some of the group) dancing.
Those unplanned adventures were a key part of what made this a great experience. At times the bus ride was long, but our local guide taught us songs and we stopped to see monkeys, yaks and some of the most beautiful sights that can be imagined.
Q. Your story about setting a goal before “allowing” yourself to book the Bhutan tour with WanderTours really inspired us. Can you share that please?
A. The trip was more physical than I had done in the past, and I wasn’t in shape for the hiking involved. I gave myself until August 2011 to start getting in shape before booking the 2012 trip, but unfortunately didn’t meet that goal. Over the next year, I did manage to start getting in shape, losing weight and working out. I booked the spring 2013 trip in the fall of 2012; by the time the trip began in March 2013 I had dropped 75 pounds.
Q. You also have a condition that makes travel, and getting around in general, a bit difficult. What was your takeaway from this trip? How difficult was it?
A. While I knew I was strong enough for the hiking, I have a severe balance disorder that was concerning. From emails with Beth, I knew I could skip any of the hikes if I wanted, but I wanted the full experience. I decided I would just do the best I could and make the most of it.
The hikes and walks were at times challenging because of my balance disorder, but I had wonderful support from Beth, our guide and others in the group when needed. I’m still disappointed that I did not make it all of the way to Tiger’s Nest (I made it to the stairs), but am full of happiness at making it as far as I did and complete joy in being in such a wonderful place.
Q. Oftentimes we hear that travel, and very often Bhutan, is life-changing. Was that the case for you?
A. I can truly say this trip changed my life. It taught me that great things can happen when you open yourself up to experience the journey for what it is. I met wonderful people, both in our group and the Bhutanese people. At the end of the trip, the girls at the hotel helped us dress in their personal kiras (local dress for women) to attend the Paro festival. Attending such a special event and mixing with locals while in beautiful clothing was a perfect ending to a wonderful trip. One day, I will make it back and make it all the way to Tiger’s Nest!
Photo credits: Kim Glazebrook
Kim Glazebrook traveled to Bhutan with WanderTours in March 2013 and to Vietnam and Seattle in 2014.