On the morning of 3rd May 2019, I was in Thimphu couch surfing at one of my sister’s best friend house. On that day I was covering an innovation event taking place at the clock tower. Around 3 PM I receive a call from the Director of the Royal Office for Media (ROM) that I have been selected to attend the Fourth Foundational Leadership Program in Royal Institute of Strategic Studies and Governance (RIGSS) as His Majesty’s Candidate. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
Till that moment I assumed that RIGSS was for the officers, bureaucrats and high-level Dashos who did exceptionally well in their field of work but I was wrong! I couldn’t still believe that I was going to be one of the alumni of RIGSS and that I was His Majesty’s Candidate.
Next Minute I again receive a call from the Royal Office for Media (ROM), this time it was a staff asking me to immediately report to ROM office with my Rachu. I wondered why Rachu! I would usually walk into the office without Rachu but then again I assumed that there must be ongoing formal meetings or perhaps I might require to sign a document for the scholarship to attend RIGSS, thus the Rachu I thought.
I rushed to ROM. The moment I got to the office, it was nothing like my assumption. The office staffs were at their usual pace working, I asked the staff why I was called to the office. Madam Sonam smiles at me with the widest smile and says ‘ Denkar You are going to Lingkana Palace’. I freaked out! It was unexpected for me to be summoned to the palace. I asked again if it is real. she confirms, yes!
Right away I took the longest breath of my life. I couldn’t believe I was going to Lingkana Palace to get an audience of His Majesty the KING OF BHUTAN, my idol and inspiration. Straightaway I called my parents. They were astonished by the news.
As I was waiting for the call, my heart pulsated the fastest and felt like the people of Thimphu town heard my heart beat. After an hour of waiting, I was at the gate of Lingkana Palace. Still in disbelieve, I was entering the palace gate. An army waited for me near the gate and accompanied me to the palace. By then it was dusk and was drizzling, as I was walking on the beautiful lawn, deep down my heart was screaming happiness. I was astounded by the palace infrastructure. It was a simple and one-storied palace. The palace that I saw from rare but this time I was inside the paradise alike vicinity.
As I reached the entrance of the palace, the chamberlain of His Majesty the King showed me the way towards the reading room.
The moment I stepped inside the main door and turned left I heard the voice, Hello Denkar! I promptly followed the direction of the voice and it was his Majesty The King. Instantly I bowed and paid my respect. It was my first time standing closest to his Majesty. His Majesty invited me to sit.
His majesty asked ‘how is your father doing’? In shock, I replied ‘Your Majesty Apa is doing fine la’. I was blown away with the fact that His Majesty still remembered my father. My father was blessed with the golden opportunity to tutor his Majesty when he was the crown prince in Lungtenzampa Middle Secondary School.
Next, his Majesty shared about the changing dynamics of travel behaviour amongst the Bhutanese. His Majesty continued to talk about beautiful travel destinations in the country and why Bhutanese must also inculcate inbound travelling, he also shared some anecdotes of his Majesty travel within Bhutan. His majesty shared ‘ when I was young, I remember my Yab (the great fouth king) taking us to Manas National Park and Gasa Tsachu during our winter breaks’. One prominent word his Majesty kept repeating was ‘We Need to Breath Bhutan’.
From that moment I realized how I was making a difference in fellow Bhutanese lives being a travel blogger and vlogger. Ever since I pledge to his majesty that I would travel far and beyond bring fascinating stories about Bhutanese people and the places to motivate Bhutanese people to travel within Bhutan and part take in being the country’s ambassador. His Majesty advised to pursue what I am currently doing. His Majesty also highlighted the presence of social media and its pivotal role today.
Later on, His majesty congratulated me for getting selected to attend RIGSS and assured that it would be an enriching learning experience with young officers and that I would have fun particularly in immersion program to the remote village of Rekhey.
After the audience, His Majesty walked me till the main door. When I was about to bow, his majesty surprised me with a gift box. His majesty said ‘ Cheychey this is for you, it’s an iPhone. I was surprised when I came to know that you edit and shoot your travel videos on your phone. Well, use this’. After I received the priceless solera, His Majesty called off the evening and wished me luck for RIGSS endeavor. I am currently using the phone for multipurpose and I have the cover of my phone placed in the altar for it’s a gift from the throne.
On my way back to the gate, I shared the escort guy that I had instant adrenaline rush being near his majesty and that I am ecstatic about the most memorable moment of my life, then he said ‘ madam I have seen many guests over the moon or beyond nine yards after visiting their Majesties but remember you are chosen one and have huge responsibility. I replied. I AGREE!
I almost fainted with immense joy and blessings. I wanted to scream my heart out but it was so inappropriate to shout around the palace vicinity.
Back at home, my parents were anxiously waiting for my call. After I exited the Lingkana Palace gate, I called my father and wished him ‘ Happy Teachers Day’ the gift for you is that Zhab asked me about you. Apa startled to talk. My mother has never seen my father cry but that night after my call, mother said Apa silently cried out of joy.
This moment shall be the most historic in my life. Today I am more committed to my work as a travel blogger, I aspire to produce more digital travel contents to inspire fellow Bhutanese to explore our country better. I have started to work with youth to engage them in outdoor learning and to advocate media literacy and relevance of social media platform.
I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to the monarch for the Guidance and Support.
Long live the king!