Skip to main content

Panbang Boys

A group of eleven passionate Panbang boys came together in 2012 and formed the first community-based ecotourism company. They call it the River Guides of Panbang. They are river guides. They work in a group and are so good at what they do. They are highly enterprising people in Panbang known for their commitment to their mission.

One of their aims is to work for the "preservation of the rich biodiversity under the corridor of Royal Manas National Park" while creating eco-tourism in the locality. They own two rubber boats and provide tourists an unforgettable experience of floating on the mighty Manas river.

In March 2016, when I was there, the Group was busy building a line of eco-camps, away from Panbang town. The camp is built with the financial support from Bhutan Foundation on one of the members' private land. These camps are built using wood and bamboo, sourced locally. While they may appear like rows of village houses, roofed traditionally using leaves, they would be fitted with latest amenities, I was told. It has been many months since and it would certainly be a great pleasure to see how they have turned up after everything was complete. We were also told that Bhutan Foundation would be conducting their Board meeting at the camp.

The camp will attract many visitors to the place and also provide unique experiences of staying in a remote village but also enjoy modern facilities and float down the Manas with the trained 'river guides'. The eco-camp will also be a wonderful place to conduct workshops, conferences and retreats during winter months.

Some of the members are my former classmates and schoolmates. I have great respect for these people for literally venturing into an untraversed water and having succeeded in capturing the market. Today, the place attracts hundreds of Indian tourists, bird watchers, adventurers, photographers.

Panbang is a small town in Zhemgang under Ngangla Gewog and is now becoming the center of major economic activity. Before the coming of Gomphu-Panbang National Highway, one had to travel through India to reach the town from bordering places like Gelephu, Phuentsholing, Samdrup Jongkhar and Nganglam in Pema Gatshel.

Panbang today has a lower secondary school and a middle secondary school, a BHU (Basic Health Unit), RNR (Renewable Natural Resource) Center, branches of Bank of Bhutan and Bhutan Development Bank. 

Note: River Guides pictures by RGP while the eco-camp pictures are from my personal collection

Comments

  1. I think the Panbang boys truly deserve a big round of applause for such a wonderful initiative. Thank you for sharing their extraordinary story. I am sure what they are doing is worthy of emulation. They should be the role models for today's youth.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Amrit sir for going through this post and leaving a comment. Panbang Boys are truly remarkable and I hope they continue to inspire many more youth to make village more interesting!

      Delete
  2. Innovation leading self employment. Doing something different from what mass do is a formula for success. Thumbs up Panbang boys. And your writing always inspires.....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for going through the post. Panbang boys are inspiring indeed. They have found out their niche and maybe one day our young people who are loitering in Thimphu and other towns will soon find their calling in rural villages. That way we can to some extent reverse the rural-migration trend that worries us all.

      Delete
  3. exemplary, role model and very very very farsighted boys panbang, thumbs up! keep working hard.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

So what do you think?

Popular posts from this blog

Bloggers are not journalists

To say bloggers are not journalists is to say oranges are not carrots. Bloggers are not journalists. That’s true. But can bloggers become journalists? Maybe. Can journalists be bloggers? Yes. In fact, it would be only proper and appropriate for journalists to blog their opinions as opposed to being 'politically' correct all the time. So why call oranges carrots when they are what they are?
Well, it is true – bloggers have no training in journalism. That’s why they are bloggers. And for the same reason they are  not journalists. No bloggers have ever claimed what they blog can qualify as ‘journalism’.  We all do what we love the most and give our best in whatever we are doing either reporting news or blogging. 

Journalists do it as careers. Bloggers do it (mostly) for hobby and out of passion. Most journalists also do it with great passion - that's true. The journalists get paid for doing their jobs while bloggers derive pleasure doing it. Journalists cover (report) stories eve…

The Story Thief

When we were growing up in a small village in the central Bhutan, we would gather around our grandparents every evening in a room that would be dimly lit with a kerosene lamp. Our grandparents or the elderly members of the family would then take turns to entertain us (siblings and cousins who lived under the same roof) with their stories. Such was the only form of entertainment we had had then.  
Our grandparents would start their stories, which they probably would have heard them from their grandparents. A young poor boy becomes a successful farmer by a turn of luck, a man fights a bear, a poor boy accidentally marries a rich man's beautiful daughter, a lame monkey helps a boy find great wealth, a rooster regrets his action after he mistakenly accuses his wife and young men go on business trips to buy cattle, among many others. We grew up listening to many such stories. Sometimes, the storyteller would narrate the same story again and again, and yet every time it sounded more magi…

A 'holiday' for meat vendors

This Bhutanese month (May 16 - June 13) is observed as Saga-Dawa, a holy month in the country. It is popularly or infamousely known as the time when the sale of meat items is banned in Bhutan. And it's also an opportunity for us to put a light brake on our mighty meaty appetites. Consequently, restaurants are encouraged to serve their customers rich vegetarian meals during the period. Similar ban is also observed every first month of the Bhutanese calendar.
But going by what's happening, the saga-dawa is a month long mandatory and government sanctioned holiday for the butchers and meat vendors. Being holy month does not really make a difference to the menus in the restaurants from rest of the  months in the year. 
Meat is available in all the restaurants and even small eateries ensure that their customers are served their favorite dishes. They're only being wise and practical because if they don't serve meat their customers would move to the restaurant next-door that ser…