Q&A: Sonam Tenphel, Tibet Tour Guide

Laura Siciliano-Rosen
January 10, 2018

Part two of a three-part series brought to you by Tibet Vista, a tour agency specializing in Tibet travel since 1984 (see part one here): Meet a Tibetan tour guide.

A young tour guide hiking in Tibet.
All photos courtesy of Tibet Vista

This job can help others learn about Tibet and make my life significant.” —Sonam Tenphel, Tibet tour guide

A group tour is only as great as the person leading it, so you want an experienced guide with both the knowledge and the passion to see it through. Enter Sonam Tenphel of Tibet Travel agency, a Tibetan native with a background in art history and a penchant for vegetable momos who considers Lhasa “the most beautiful, intriguing city in the world”—and shows it off to his clients with pride. We had a few questions for him. 

Please state your job title.
Senior tour guide, Tibet Travel agency.

What's your favorite thing about being a tour guide?
A tour guide shepherds tourists to visit scenic spots and shares history and stories with them, and I also share some excellent experiences of my career as a guide. I really like sharing—this job can help others learn about Tibet and make my life significant. 
 

Pouring yak butter tea from a kettle in Tibet.
Pouring the tea

What can people expect regarding food in Tibet?
People may expect to eat local yak meat, among other things! A meal costs at most 50 RMB [about US$7.50].

What's a Tibetan food or drink a visitor cannot miss?
Important foods include barley, yak curry, and momos. Beverages must be buttered tea, sweet tea. These should not be missed for every visitor traveling in Tibet.

What's your favorite kind of momo?
My favorite kind of momo is with vegetable filling. But there are many different kinds of momo you can try.
 

Momos and hot sauce in Tibet
What's not to love about momos?

What do you think about the fact that the momo has spread to so many different places? We live in a neighborhood in Queens where you can get momos from more than 20 different restaurants!
As far as I can see, the momo has spread to so many different places because it is an irresistible trend. It is delicious, inexpensive, and convenient.

What's the No. 1 reason to visit Tibet now?
It is extremely difficult to say which reason is No.1, because there are many reasons to visit Tibet—it is the highest place in the world, with a unique landscape, splendid culture, religious beliefs, natural beauty and so on.
 

A tour guide with a small group at a restaurant in Tibet.
With a small tour group in Tibet



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