Farmhouse lunch

Sonam'sWe had lunch today at Aum Sonam’s house. Aum Sonam, who was a member of the last National Assembly before the introduction of parliamentary democracy, served us a sumptuous meal of kharang, sikam, aima datsi, mushrooms, farm eggs, cottage cheese and papaya.

I enjoyed Aum Sonam’s cooking thoroughly. It was clean, wholesome and traditional. So I asked her if she would be willing to make lunch for other travelers between Bumthang and Mongar or Trashigang. Her answer was “yes!” quickly qualified by “but they should call me first”.

Her farmhouse is located among Thidanbi’s bucolic paddy fields about five kilometres uphill from Lingmithang. It’s a natural lunch stop when traveling from Bumthang to Mongar, or from Trashigang to Bumthang. If you want to try Aum Sonam’s food, telephone her at 1770-1287 or her husband, Thinley Namgay, at 1764-4057.

I’m quite certain that tourists would also enjoy a visit to Aum Sonam’s. Besides cooking lunch and brewing tea, she could be easily be distilling ara, frying zao, or pounding tsip, all traditional activities that more of our tourists would want to see.

I already know where we’ll have lunch on our way back.


Facebook Comments:


  1. Your Excellency,

    Innovative and Thoughtful! It might work.

    Your inspiration from Aum Sonam shouldn’t stop at lunch break. If you “genuinely” believed in Aum Sonam, enjoyed her lunch, and saw a business potential in it with your Harvard instinct, then let it give you inspiration, reason, and energy to drive SMEs in Bhutan.

    Let it start with Aum Sonam of Thidanbi but let it spread to all Aum Sonams, Ap Sangays, Bum Seldons, and Bu Samdrups creating ripple effects of employment throughout our economy, driving the very economy. Let our own Aum Sonams, Ap Sangays, Bum Seldons, and Bu Samdrups take the centre stage, take charge, and implement what they already know the best, not imported from Jamtshofarka’s (across the ocean) Ap McKinsey. Ap McKinsey has neither tasted our Emadatshi nor munched our Zao, nor felt the harsh reality of pounding our Tsip, nor experienced the kick of our ara or the core marketing strategy of our Tshoegchang system of the east.

    Ap McKinsey will have a real difficulty in swimming here because we don’t have oceans. We ride yaks, cook Emadatshi, and adapt in the Himalayas. Our ground reality is different from all the countries where Ap McKinsey succeeded. Our ground reality is closer to countries where Ap McKinsey couldn’t handle the kick of ara and collapsed. We are not Corporate America. Big business houses could neither drive the economy nor generate mass employment for our own people here. We are a nation that will do well in SMEs.

    In most countries the SME sector makes an enormous contribution to the economy. I spent more than a year in New Zealand and I learnt that – in New Zealand, 350,000 or so SMEs make up more than 99% of all businesses and account for about 60% of employment. The SME sector broadly covers micro-enterprises (fewer than 5 staff), small enterprises (6-49) and medium enterprises (50-100). And most of their businesses started from their garages, something similar to Your Excellency’s idea of Aum Sonam entering the Bhutanese economy and finding a niche in tourism sector. They call it Kiwi Ingenuity.

    But I learnt that more than what they claim as their Kiwi Ingenuity, it is their Government’s “De-regulation” of SMEs that gives them all the flexibility to try any business idea without much risk. For example, one can start about 20 different SMEs from the garage and even if only one succeeds, it is worth the effort. It takes one dollar to register a business, after all.

    They are strict and corporate businesses are highly regulated, making it very difficult for Corporate gaints led by Ap McKinsey difficult to enter and penetrate their market. But they make it so easy, through “de-regulation,” for Ap Maori or Aum Massey to do their SMEs businesses. The result they have consistently strong economy that guarantees consistent mass jobs. Most of their businesses are family run, employing less than 5 staff (mostly family members and relatives). Does it sound like how our Sharchogpa Tshongkhang runs it business at Chubachu, Thimphu? Perhaps, almost all the businesses in Bhutan including all the businesses gutted by fire at Wamrong.

    So I urge Your Excellency not let your Aum Sonam’s inspiration to die before crossing Thrimshingla or erase with a kick of ara. Sacrifice your cup of ara, think over the idea that stuck into you, bring it to the Hall of National Assembly, and provide a polite alternative to the Government.

    Let Aum Sonam face Ap McKinsey. The people of Bhutan, especially the mast majority of the “invisible people” including those thousands of youth chasing Ap McKinsey’s shadow, will be the judge.

    Let us face our own reality before today’s Ap McKinsey solution becomes tomorrow’s Aum Sonam problem.

    We have to be honest to ourselves and be realistic. Otherwise, it will be like blindly listening to safety measure propagated by Ap Naka about earthquake safety. Ap Naka told us, continuously and confidently, to run “under the table” when the earthquake happens. We all know that the biggest disaster in our history Earthquake of September 21 hit eastern Bhutan, especially Narang, Thangrong, and Durung. Not a SINGLE house or a bago (hut) has a “TABLE” in it. Was Ap Naka out of touch with reality or failed to see the ground reality?

    Ap McKinsey may not trust Ap Naka to learn from that mistake. Let Aum Sonam explain to him politely through Ara Tshoegchang.

    Bottomline: I am worried about jobs and livelihoods of the vast majority of “Invisible People” (poor and voiceless) of Bhutan.


  2. OL thanks for sharing such information for tour operators. Now tour operators should make tourist to stay in any farm house.TCB or ABTO should provide such information and develop marketing startegies to promote bhutanses typical farm houses in all places of Bhutan and qualify the farm houses for quality service and food.Collect information of all farm houses and train and rate them.

  3. I will not miss her lunch, have noted her number!

  4. I too cannot agree any more than you Invisible for your thought provoking and insightful comments. Hats off to you for this.

    Without prejudice to the government effort to develop and promote SMEs, the potential of SMEs in Bhutan still remains unnoticed and unfavoured.

    I see some light if the Economic Affairs Ministry establish a full fledge SME Department to boost their potentials.

    I am sure your Excellency will extend your full support to this initiative inspired by what you encountered in the small walls of Aum Sonam’s business empire.

    My good wishes in your endeavour Excellency.

    • The government has my fullest support. I will support and cooperate with them fully to realise the potential of cottage industries in Bhutan. Naturally, if the government is not doing enough, I will raise the issues.

  5. Dear OL

    Thank you for the tip. I have saved both the numbers in my mobile and I will stop by (call before hand) for lunch. I might even decide to halt overnight.

    However, I am not very clear as to where the place is. Is it 5 Kms uphill from Lemithang – on your way back to Bumthang from Mongar or towards Mongar?

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