Miss Bhutan 2008

with 19 comments

The Miss Bhutan 2008 Beauty Pageant this weekend was the first beauty pageant I’ve attended. And it was probably the last.

The evening didn’t get off to a good start, so maybe that’s partly to blame for my dissatisfaction with the whole event.

The contest was due to begin at six p.m. But as we entered the venue shortly before six, things were far from ready.

Stage hands were still rushing around, the lighting didn’t seem to work yet and neither did the sound system.

In the end, we had to wait a whole hour for the show to begin. But of course there was no announcement to explain about the delay or asking the audience for just a little more patience.

Interestingly, no one in the hall seemed to mind.

Maybe the Bhutanese are used to things not starting punctually. Maybe it’s a Western thing to get impatient when people make you wait?

Unfortunately, things didn’t get better once the show got going.

The two presenters were somewhat uncoordinated and clearly suffered from the fact that the event hadn’t been properly rehearsed.

An insider of the beauty pageant told me beforehand that the contestants (“the divas,” as she put it) had preferred to go for a manicure, rather than attending the show’s dress rehearsal.

One of the MC’s then made us fear for the worst when he announced that the contestants would be given ample opportunity to show their personalities in interviews, and not just their pretty faces.

The first round of the contest would have three sub-rounds, he explained. I looked at my watch and knew that this event wouldn’t be over in two hours, as promised.

The interviews of the first sub-round then went something like this:

MC: Hi

Contestant 1 – 15: Hi

MC: How are you?

Contestant 1 – 15: Fine but nervous.

MC: That’s good, I’m also nervous. Could you please introduce yourself to the people?

Contestant 1 – 15: My name is (insert name here), I’m from (add name of a Bhutanese province here) and I love music, dancing and reading.

MC: What would you like to share with the audience?

Contestant 1 – 10: I’d like to talk about my mom / parents

Contestant 11 – 13: I’d like to talk about my love of nature

Contestant 14: I’d like to talk about an inspirational book

Contestant 15: I’d like to talk about the inspiration our King has been for my life.

Out of the 15 contestants, only one had some sort of stage presence (Tsokye Tsomo Karchung, one of the three “Miss Thimphus” in the race).

The other 14 girls were pretty sad to watch, stumbling through the lines they had unsuccessfully tried to learn by heart and standing in awkward poses that someone must have told them would look good.

After this first sub-round, three things were immediately clear for us

a. we had already picked our winner: the Miss Thimphu with the stage presence.

b. this show would go on and on and on, and

c. the idea of a nice dinner and a beer suddenly looked better than all the 15 contestants combined.

So we made a run for it.


Okay – this was the very first Miss Bhutan beauty pageant the country has ever put on. So let’s give them credit for that.

Most of the contestants had never been on a stage before and came from the remote rural provinces of the country. Two of them had even given up their jobs for the chance of becoming Miss Bhutan. So regardless of whether that was a clever decision, it at least shows dedication.

And finally, Asian and Western ideals of female beauty and demeanour may differ. We found it excruciating that most of the contestants spoke so softly that the microphone could hardly pick up what they said. And their shyness on stage made them seem unprofessional and uninteresting to us.

Tshokey Tshomo Karchung, Miss Bhutan 2008

Tsokey Tsomo Karchung, Miss Bhutan 2008

Asians may have seen their shyness and delicacy as typically feminine and appealing.

The day after the contest, we learned that the show lasted a whopping six hours.

In the end, our favourite contestant, 24 year old Tsokey Tsomo Karchung, was crowned Miss Bhutan 2008.


Written by Thorsten

October 13, 2008 at 11:09 am

19 Responses

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  1. I think that was a good feedback esp. for the MPAB. And hoping to see a better Miss Bhutan pagent in future.


    October 16, 2008 at 8:26 am

  2. Although it was a little disorganized, i thoughtt he show doesn’t deserve this much criticism.
    I thought the girls were bold and beautiful and not to erase the confidence aspect out of our mind- i would credit the organizers for puting up a great show and the girls were great!


    October 16, 2008 at 8:58 am

  3. I dont think it was too bad atleast the judges made the right choice by selecting the one that the writer has predicted…good write up but a lil too exaggerated!!!


    October 16, 2008 at 9:04 am

  4. too bad you had to suffer for 6 hours, WHO TOLD YOU TO ATTEND?


    October 16, 2008 at 9:05 am

  5. poor write up…..ugly lots never appreciates beauty!!! thanks for proving the comment!

    friday night

    October 16, 2008 at 9:06 am

  6. The beast has written about the beauty.

    Jason Lamba

    October 16, 2008 at 9:07 am

  7. give the contestants a break! you show some understanding by not forgetting that this was the very first miss bhutan pageant ever and that the contestants come from all over bhutan (the title winner, having been educated in canada, was perhaps the only one with some western exposure), and yet you hold no reservations when it comes expressing your disappointment. yes, i agree that the pageant in it’s entirety could have been better, esp when it came to sticking to the schedule. however, mocking individual contestants without first trying to understand their background or hearing their stories is quite an insensitive thing to do!


    October 16, 2008 at 8:52 pm

  8. I appreciate your criticism, although most of it is clearly negative. However, i’d like to contradict by saying that Bhutanese women are beautful and a forum like this shoud be encouraged however the turn-out maybe. It’s sad that all you have to say about the event is how delayed everything was..how puzzled the mc was..how shy “Asian Women” were (as you put it). I may be getting defensive here but i’d like to tell you that the girls and the organisers should be applauded for the effort they put in into something that they clearly have no experience in. I am a class twelve student and i am close to being a woman now. What hurt me the most, is the fact that you, without any hesitance have branded us “Asian Women” not only as meek but also, unprofessional. Correct me if i am wrong, but these pageant shows are organised to groom beautiful young women. It is not at all an exhibition for professional hens to flock their experienced feathers. I see that you are quite a pessimist and if you think that, attending the Miss Bhutan show was a huge error of yours, then Mr., don’t commit a similar mistake again. If you do, it’s obvious that you’d definitely say something discouraging and i tell you, by then, Bhutanese may lose their in-borne patience. I am sorry that Bhutan couldn’t offer you something that is equivalent to that of your country’s and it came as a surprise that you had at least, something nice to say at the end. It’s a relief, for many of us that you go according to the decisions made. If “stammering while speaking, standing in awkward poses, shy appearances” is all that makes up a Bhutanese woman, then i hereby, proudly pronounce my self, as a member of this shy women’s family. Tashi.
    (p.s: if you and your friends have anything more to comment on, you’re welcome to do so. I am sure my other asian friends would love to respond)
    I am sorry if i sounded rude!


    October 20, 2008 at 1:22 pm

  9. Hmm…interesting write-up! Very true also, especially since I was involved with it. There was no rehearsal…and I agree with you when you guess at the definition of the Asian concept of “beauty and appeal”, as was evident in the discontent after Tshoki was crowned among the public: “she isn’t Bhutanese enough”! And about punctuality: we could go on about it.

    But, we should laud the first effort and learn and *not repeat* the mistakes.

    Namgay Zam

    October 21, 2008 at 5:40 am

  10. It looks like I have stepped on quite a few toes with this post. That was not my intention and I am sorry if I have hurt people’s feelings.
    What I originally wanted was to write down my very subjective impressions of the Miss Bhutan finals. I am sorry if some passages came across as sarcastic and offensive.
    I never meant to insinuate that Bhutanese women are not beautiful – I hope it didn’t come across that way.
    I think that those who have read my other posts from Bhutan will realize that I love this country and its people very much. During my stay here, I have made wonderful new friends and have experienced things I could never have experienced anywhere else. Bhutan is a unique and wonderful place and the people I have met here are warmhearted, open and hospitable. I would never want to lose their friendship. Thorsten


    October 22, 2008 at 11:31 am

  11. i as a bhutanese citizen, strongly feel that the contest being held for the first time in a small country like bhutan itself is a big achievement,,,and i congratulate all the contestants on their effort,,, and the fact abt the criticism i feel that its easier said than done and like wise,,its easy to point out the mistakes of others than to see in ur own,,,instead of wasting the time abt criticising them its better to applaud them,,


    October 25, 2008 at 3:34 pm

  12. Well! I have heard worst from my fellow compatriot! They said that everything was going hay ware, light, music, MCs, even the gown our beauties were wearing and the beauty queens themselves. So everyone kind of knew who is going to win from the vast difference seen between the winner and the rest.

    I think the author has done justice. I am Bhutanese and I take it as constructive criticism. I wouldn’t called it bias because he cared to mention in the beginning itself that his judgment could be based on the fact that it was ill prepared and he was kept waiting for an hour and that he is a foreigner who has a very different concept for beauty queens. He also mentions that this was happening for the first time here in Bhutan. Underline message, we could take with a pinch of salt is that he left enough reasons for the readers to make our own judgment. like it or not whatever he’s written, is also so very true.

    I personally think that organizer should have been more careful with Time and not make it awfully long. Six hours is pretty long for anything! He should have chosen a matured set of MCs who had stage presence and knew how to handle stage crises, and should have stuck to one set of MCs…than we could be forced to say “wow! Not bad for a beginner!”

    All said and done, I applaud the organizer for braving it all, we wish you the best and hopefully next year’s pageant will be a lot organized.

    As for the author, I enjoyed your writing and will be a regular visitor from now on.

    Tashi Delek


    November 25, 2008 at 8:10 am

  13. I guess we can accept that most of what is written is very true; a little harsh in between and even exaggerated but true. Anyway not to defend or justify anything but I want to state a few facts. This was the first ever Miss Bhutan contest, initiated by a person who had no funds but continued passionately pursuing his dream. The entire event starting from the organizers, workers, MCs (Namgay Zam: above), judges, participants and probably even the audience (like the writer) were amateurs attending and being part of a beauty pageant for the first time. Heck even the hall was just constructed and opened. We should give them a little more credibility and even an A for effort. Maybe a C or D for final show. I am a Bhutanese myself and I wasn’t surprised by the way it ended up, but this is just the first step. Instead of complaining and getting defensive, we should take it as constructive criticism and heres hoping that the next Miss Bhutan pageant wont be as bad- It will probably start half an hour later this time but we’re still learning.

    As for Mr. Thorsten, next time stick to the nice dinner and beer.


    December 3, 2008 at 12:00 am

  14. what has been written is a true clear picture of reality,we need to face it n try n be better n even excellent in the coming future rather than being offended by an insignificant article. it was a huge event altogether so it was the so called constentants who were supposed to put up their best despite the fact whtr they belong to the urban or rural background.if they were shy,uncomfortable what was the rigriousTraining for? or is it that they r so naive tht they couldn understand the whole training process……neva the less they deserve credit for their participation……Tshokey tshmo had no competator wht so ever,n her title has got nothin to do with her exposure,it was for other contestants to have worked more hard with determination…..wht he meant by saying other contestants were sad to look at does nt necessarily be her beauty but the other qualities that every contestants are taught thoroughly before the main event…….lets try n take things positively n strongly n let us all put our hands togetther as sensible citizens of this country n lets try n stop such silly things from happening in the coming days so much so that outsiders will have no guts to pin point ……mr thorsten i appreciate ur honesty , its through true criticism that we learn to correct our mistakes…


    December 12, 2008 at 11:18 am

  15. the above message is from Samme(bangalore)……..


    December 12, 2008 at 11:25 am

  16. Mr.Thorsten i strongly support you 4 ur honesty and also i want to let you know that If you are in Bhutan and wanted to attend any………… you must learn to be in patience lol cos Bhutan is not yet fully developed. (can’t you see different ………… ) There’s lots we need to learn……………. and to understand. Have A NiCe dAy if you are here in BHUTAN.


    June 23, 2009 at 1:08 pm

  17. Wow some strongly-worded comments here! How I wish I’d receive some on my own blog hahaha.

    I think you should organize a “Mister Bhutan” contest when you return to that country. My winner would be Dukpo, first runner-up would be Sonam 😉


    June 24, 2009 at 10:55 am

  18. འབྲུག་པའི་མཛེས་མ་འགྲན་བསྡུར་ལ་རྟེན་འབྲེལ་ཞུ། ཧི་མི་ལ་ཡའི་མཛེས་ཆོས་དང་རིག་གནས་དེ་འཛམ་གླིང་དུ་ཁྱབ་པར་འབད་བརྩོན་བྱེད་རོགས།


    December 16, 2009 at 10:29 am

    • Could someone please translate this into English? Thank you


      December 16, 2009 at 10:43 am

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