I am Thupten Gyatso, the tour operator and guide for the Tibetan Encounter Day Tour. Many people have asked me why I chose to open The Tibetan Encounter Day Tours. Being a Tibetan refugee myself, I am uniquely qualified to tell the story of how so many Tibetans came to live in Nepal. Additionally, having worked in the hospitality industry for almost 16 years, I gradually became aware that tourists had a keen interest in Tibetan culture, customs, religion, livelihood, medicine, arts and crafts, our dynamic philosophy and our way of thinking.
I was born in 1974 in Riphuk near Gonpa Ghar in upper Mustang, Nepal. My story begins well before I was born. In fear of their lives, my parents fled Tibet in 1959, the invading Chinese army close on their heels. They escaped on foot to Mustang, an area in the mountains of northern Nepal close to the Tibetan border and a stronghold of the Tibetan guerillas. There my parents lived for almost 14 years until the Nepali government ordered the remaining Tibetan guerillas ( about 1800 men ) to shut down the operation and arranged for land where Tibetan refugees could build permanent settlements. Eventually, in 1975 my family settled in Jampaling Tibetan Refugee Settlement, about an hour east of Pokhara on the road to Kathmandu, and it was there that I was raised and educated.
As an adult I gradually became aware of tourists’ thirst for knowledge about Tibet and I began thinking about the best way I could share real information about Tibetans who live in Nepal as refugees. As a result, I started The Tibetan Encounter Day Tours and developed the morning tour, morning tour with Sarangkot sunrise, full day tour and half day tours to four different Tibetan Refugee Settlements around Pokhara.
If you would like to learn about Tibetan culture in an environment where Tibetans are happy to tell their stories, please contact me about joining one of my cultural tours.