Chhu, Chhu Everywhere!

The past few weeks, I’ve been traveling (and hiking) in Bhutan.  Don’t feel bad if you don’t know where that is, the tiny developing nation is tucked up in the Himalayas next to India and China.  I was traveling with a small group on a trip recognized by National Geographic Traveler as one of “50 Trips of a Lifetime”.


On the first night at our second hotel, one of the women on the trip awoke at 1:30am to what sounded like a waterfall.  It’s a beautiful country and waterfalls are not uncommon, however, this one was coming in through the ceiling and light fixtures of her hotel room!  Quick thinking, she grabbed her belongings and dashed out into the hall knocking on neighboring doors of other guests in our group.  She knew there was another single traveler in the group so there would be an extra bed in that room but she wasn’t sure which room that was!

Several guests in our group, awakened by the knocking and noise, sprung into action.  The front desk in this small hotel is not manned 24/7.  In fact, all the lights were out downstairs and the lobby was pitch dark.  Outside, someone found the night watchman and without clearly knowing what the problem was, he awakened other staff who came to see.

Clearly expecting to find a drip from a sink, the staff was shocked to find a genuine flood in a guest room – water everywhere, part of the ceiling in the floor, or as they say in their native language “Chhu, chhu” which we learned is the word for water.


The next day, all of us who slept through the commotion heard the story over and over at breakfast.  We all traipsed upstairs to see the mess, most of us even took pictures.  When we returned from our hike that afternoon, the hotel staff had moved our new friend into a fresh room and waiting for her was a beautiful apology letter and a bottle of French wine.  At dinner she shared this final chapter of the story with the rest of us and shared the wine with her fellow travelers who rallied to her aid in the middle of the night.

Aside from the costs of the physical damage which resulted from this burst water tank (that was the problem), this could have been a true economic disaster for this small hotel in this developing nation where tourism is quickly blooming into the largest economic contributor.  

The tour company who had arranged our trip does trips in Bhutan year-round. They had just moved to this hotel from a competitor in the same town.  At least once a month, this tour company brings between 8-16 visitors using 4-10 rooms in the hotel.  

Had the staff not been as gracious and responsive, had the management not written the letter and sent the wine we would have all no doubt been talking about the poor response for the rest of the trip.  It would have made the comment card to the tour company and needless to say, both here and on my Travel Queen blog, the recount of the situation would have been very different.  

A disaster of some kind can and will happen eventually in your business.  It’s important to remember that it’s how you deal with it that everyone will remember in the end!


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