A Solo Traveler's Success In Exploring Bhutan
As a solo traveller my plans are modifying till the time i am off for this beautiful country..
Finally after an long journey (50 hours) i reached New Alipur Duar. I was missing the AC coach badly when I landed there... It was 1 AM and i was sweating like hell.. Some touts rushed to me to ask for the taxi.. I just told a big NO to all of them...
I got out of the station and was standing in the entrance.. Surprisingly i met a Bhutanese group of 5 (3 boys and 2 girls) all of them were working for Infosys and HP ... It was a mystery for me why they decided to quit the job and get back to their own country.. We became friends.. and we decided that we will travel by night to Phuentosholling.So they started for hunting cabs... we needed 2 taxis coz they have so many baggage... Ass i mentioned they were leaving India so they just packed everything and getting back...So the final deal was 1100 per cab...and we booked 1 Maruti Omni and 1 Bolero.. One guy offered me the front seat of Bolero by saying you are a guest in our country so please have the seat.. this is the beginning of the Bhutanese sweetest welcome for me...
Still in our mind was the Bhutan gate will open by 6..so if we will start early we have to wait ion the border for long... so we decided that we will break our journey at Namchi...One small Dhaba type place is there...And we started ... I was enquiring with the taxi driver what all are the other options to reach phuentosholling.. there are buses from New Alipur Duar to jaigaon which takes more than 2 hours as it takes lot of local people... Finally we reached Namchi... 1 Dhaba was open ..its a 24/7 hotel... Those people ordered for the dinner.. I just grabbed a Diet Coke and some namkins there and munching .. and asking a lot of questions to the group regarding hotel/route/timing bla bla.. and they were clarifying all of my queries with a smile... At the end of each sentence they never forgot to add’ don’t worry.. we will help ‘ I got my very 1st Ngultrum (BTN) – Bhutanse Currency.. it was a 5 Nu.
We crossed New Alipur Duar junction (NOQ) local people call it as Junction.... Then Hashimara station railway crossing..one goods train was passing so we had to wait almost 20 minutes... all the Indian Army trucks were stranded as well.My Bhutanese travel buddies told me that the tea estates are following us the whole way.. but my bad luck it was too dark at night.,... once we entered jaigaon (Indian side of the border) it was dawn .... and i can see the mountains... it was sooooooo beautiful... i just pulled out my camera to shoot... and my friends told me that hang on...this is the just the beginning and you will get lot more eye soothing views.... we tried lot of ATMs to pull out money.. Actually I was carrying a lot of INRs with me.... but I wished to pull out some more cash for safer side.. but none of the ATMs were in service... huh...
Finally we stopped at the beautiful Bhutan gate... A huge board knocked me down it was written “Welcome to Bhutan”.. I realized yeah man I am entering Bhutan.... I was over excited...Really it was an awesome feeling...It was 5 AM IST means its 5.30 AM BST... Point to be noted Bhutan time is 30 minutes ahead of Indian time . In my mind it was going on that we have to wait for the next 30 minutes... Those guys decided that they will request to the security of Bhutan to allow us to enter as we were carrying a lot of luggage.. And it was done... Thats Bhutanese hospitality...
It was drizzling ... We were standing in front of a hotel Blue dragon... In my mind i was just waiting for the Immigration office to open... I was just standing on the opposite side of the road to immigration office... I got a Bhutanese guy named Chokey who was travelling with me... He was also travelling to thimpu... As per his suggestion we entered the Bhutanese immigration office... We met a guy named Jimmy.. asked about the soonese process to get the Entry Permit... I was so much amazed to see the helping hands of Bhutanese.. He simply told that come at 8.45 AM with documents and he will arrange something... He was so friendly and helping... i cant believe Bhutanese are so helpful ... amazing ... It was only 6.30 AM so we had a lot of time ...so we decided to get the Bus ticket also get fresh...
We took one taxi to Bus stand... it was hardly 400 mtrs coz it was raining so we paid him 50 Nu.We got the ticket for 1 PM bus.... bus stand is lovely... As I entered Bhutan i can see the changes of the architecture of the countries... Building were totally different and lot of arts ...It was simply beautiful..
Phuentosholling to Thimphu Bus ticket cost 210 Nu/INR and it will take 6 hours including a 20 minutes halt for lunch and 2 stops for toilet...(If no road blockage)...
We decided then to take a hotel to get fresh up... also breakfast... So we moved to Hotel Kuenga.. they charged 400 nu/2hrs ... we got freshen up... and chokey asked me if i am comfortable of having beef... so that he can take me to his favourite restaurant in P’ling... I eagerly said yes... I would suggest the Non-veg guys try some new meats... its awesome.. i never tried Beef.. i tried there dry beef also Pork... it was really really mouth watering... They used to give one drink in water bottle thats like Butter milk but the taste is different... So we were full with the breakfast and headed to the immigration office... and trust me Jimmy was waiting for us.. He took photocopy of my Passport and 1 PP photograph... he filled form for me... and Chokey wrote 1 application as if i am his guest in that country.... It was the greatest effort from them.. i am really humble for those guys.... and we waitied for 15 minutes ... the time was 9.25.. and Jimmy invited me to come to 1st floor... and he was attending me.. he gave my application form internally to his friend... he told to take a picture... i satg theref and took it... in 45 minutes the permit was in my hand...I was over excited.... and i am on the top... While handing over the Permit to me Jimmy casually asked me ‘do you know smoking rules??’ i simply told I don’t smoke... he smiled at me...
*** Smoking rules... :: Dont dare to smoke outside... smoke inside your hotel room...you can carry only 200 cancer sticks to the country... And smoking in the public might put you behind the bars as well...you can carry 150 gms of tobacco as well...
I was on cloud nine to get hold the permit in my hand... but we had a lot of time for the bus.. it was only 9.45 BST..
So we headed to a restaurant for break fast... Chokey asked me multiple times am i comfortable in having beef... I said yeah coz i m in this country to try some yummie dishes...So we headed to his favourite restaurant.. We tried Sakam Pa Rice(Dry beef) and some pork with some curd juices.... It was really mouth watering... after that we had to wait for another 4 hours... Then we went to Tashi telecom office to get a Bhutanese SIM.. I gave a copy of my permit and a photo graph and they handed over me the activated SIM.. The lady in the office asked me if i had any IC (Indian Currency).. Bhutanese named Indian Rupees as IC and Nu as BC..I gave her 2K IC and she in exchange gave me 2K Nu. so we roamed here and there visited a beautiful temple... Chokey had haircut in jaigaon... Finally we started for the bus stand at 12.30 PM.. our bus was yet to arrive.. The reporting time was 12.30 PM and the departure time was 1 PM.In few minutes our Toyota Coaster bus arrived... We gave our bags to load on the roof of the bus...It was covered in polythene to protect from the rain and ties with the rope...
We took our seat 5 and 6.. i suggest to insist for the seat No.1 for perfect view...
Finally bus started moving at sharp 1 PM. Bhutan buses and people are extremely punctual.It was damn hot in Phuentosholling and as the bust started crawling the cold breeze was soothing me..Bus started climbing mountains one by one... hundreds of mountains.. i was sleepless last night but not able to close my eyes for a second ..sorry cant bear the price of losing the price of the beautiful views.. I felt like as if i am in paradise.. It was so bright green everywhere.. After some time the 1st immigration checkpost reached i had to get down and show my permit.. They stamped it ..Bus started running faster now... I salute the Bhutanese bus drivers who are so expert over those hilly roads...Perhaps they very well know how stiff is the curves.. they just turn the vehicle perfectly...The weather was clear..so the views were much clearer but as we climb higher clouds started forming and in some places it was dense clouded.. I saw a lot of Indian Army trucks... the road was well made and maintained by BRO (Border Road organization) ..In some places i saw the road widening work is going on...After some time bus halted at a hotel for some food... I was literally hungry i ordered some momos.Yak Cheese momos are very famous and mouth watering.. I grabbed quickly some momos with diet coke.. It was so tasty.. There are 4 more Indians in the bus.they are working in Bhutan in various projects. On the way i saw a hydro power, few fountains.. the scenery were awesome..I did nt miss the chance of taking few snaps.. my friend Chokey was snoring by the time.. Finally we reached at the 2nd and final immigration check post.Again i have to how my permit and got stamped.Now we were heading nearer to Thimpu .. Thimpu chhu river was following us .. it was a beautiful river it flows through Thimpu city.I started feeling cold as the sun was about to set.. so pulled out my jacket and felt warm.Finally we entered a beautiful gate written Welcome to Thimpu City. As the bus entered the city lot of beautiful buildings were visible .. I saw a Tata motors show room and few other Automobiles showroom but all were closed.. I got the answer from Chokey that Bhutan government has stopped importing vehicles to reduce the pollution and traffic.On the road I saw numerous SUV’s..such as land cruiser,Toyota Hillux,Hyundai Tuscon..Thimpu city impresses me highly.. It was my 1st impression ..and that was perfect..People started getting off the bus ..we got down at the last stop that is the Thimpu bus stand.. Though Chokey’s house is much before the bus stand he managed to come with me to get me a good hotel.. We started walking from bus stand and entered a road named Norzin lam there we found a lot of hotels... We went to one.. But i didn’t find the room attracting.. We moved to Druk Sherig i was happy to see the room.. It has a big room ,big bath room.. Room was well decorated.. Bathroom was big enough having bath tub and geyser..All houses in Bhutan are wooden floored.. I came to the reception to pay the advance.. One pretty girl took the money for the day 1200 Nu. She was asking for 1500Nu. But after my bargaining and as its a off season she agreed to 1200Nu. While leaving the restaurant the girl requested me that there is a dance show at night so she was asking me to join that... later i came to know it was Daank.. Daank is something where the girls will request you to ask for some songs and they will dance on that song and you have to pay 100Nu to that girl...and we came to the 3rd floor and got freshen up quickly...Coz i was so hungry and feeling so tired and cold... i took a very good bath.. then Chokey got freshen up.. and we were off for our dinner... We roamed on that beautiful Norzim lam road and decided to try in restaurant...I went up to the restaurant and checked the menu.. asked the waiter whether Fish is available... he with a smile said No sir... then i asked for chicken ..same answer i for from him so we ordered some Omlet,veg salad for starter and beef datshi with rice and fried pork.I had some local Bhutanese whiskey it was so smooth i tried highland Bhutan...As i was tired and hungry it started giving me kick in few pegs.. we had a wonderful dinner there.. and i get back to hotel... It was time to bid chokey good night...as he was also running out of time as he had to return to his home.. and after 10 nothing will be available ..neither food nor taxis.. Before he left he was able to manage a taxi for the next days trip to Dochula pass ,Buddha Point and local sight seeing.His last word was have breakfast get ready by 9 AM .I said Ok buddy. Then i came back to hotel and simply lied down in bed and went to the deepest sleep...
Next morning i got up really early around 5.30 AM.I left bed at 6 put on my track pant and a jacket picked my camera and came down to roam on the road... It was cold and calm..no Traffic ...Thimpu looked so beautiful in the morning.. Small boys and girls were walking to school.. The road was full of people wearing Gho and Khira (National dresses for men and Women in Bhutan respectctively)..Thimpu really touched me in early hours of morning.. I sat some time on the stairs in front of the clock tower which was just side to my hotel.. I met a Japanese who was working there and a French solo traveller ... I had some good conversation there... Finally i saw my wrist watch was showing its about 8AM... i rushed to my hotel.. took a shower and headed for breakfast.. While coming back to my hotel i saw a board pure vegetarian hotel,,It was Grand hotel.. i met few Indians in completely formals (Suits and ties) they were doing some steel business in Bhutan... i ordered Puri sabjee... It was so tasty ..I got a call in the mean time from chokey while totally concentrating on my food..he told that the driver is waiting infront of my hotel..also gave me the number... I dialled the number and requested him to wait 5 minutes with a big sorry... See I told you Bhutanese are extremely punctual..I met that guy ..he was carrying a big smile and he was so lively.. his name is Bupa... in few minutes he became a very good friend... he was non stop talking but it was hear soothing.. he was a perfect guide i must say.... We rushed to the bus stand and got ticket for Paro.. unfortunately i did nt get seat number 1 once again.. This was not a Toyota coaster bus instead of a Eicher bus. From there i came to all most all the taxi drivers know bupa... they were interacting with full respect.. Finally we headed towards Dochula pass.. On the way when i looked back Thimpu was looking outstanding.. It was simply superb.. On the way i saw Royal Bhutan Army head quarter ..bupa was telling me everything that was coming on our way... We stopped in a road side restaurant to get some water bottles and coke for him... he was insisting to pay but i said noway... it was a Tibetan village.. i hardly saw any males there.. When bupa told me the reason i felt something funny... People in Tibet used to marry 3-4 girls and left them.. and those were refugees for Bhutan and they have set up this village they used to cultivate vegetables and apples a lot...and in fact those people are rich... We stopped at a place to see the very 1st building in thimpu... I clicked some snaps there.. Bupa was more than happy in clicking and getting clicked as well.. Finally we stopped at a check post... Note : For Duchula pass you need an extra permit...
I did not have that extra permit... bupa requested the officer by saying that i am his best friend from india when he came to india i had helped him like anything.. and finally the officer agreed to allow us for 2 hours... 2 hours was more than enough for us... We finally reached Dochula.. but bad luck it was dense clouds there.. Visibility was lowest... There we saw 108 stupas.. If the weather would have been clear we could have seen the beautiful mountain ranges from there also the china border.There is a temple there... Bupa took me there photo graphy is not allowed inside... the inside view and arts were just made me speechless.. His majesty (Bhutan king) and head monk used to come there for prayer..we saw the sitting arrangements for the king and his family.. it was beautifully crafted.The temple is made of the national wood of Bhutan..the priest offered me a piece of the wood ..it smells so good...While leaving the temple Bupa showed me the rest house for the king and his family... all building were beautifully designed in Bhutan... And we started crawling down.. took my permit which i had to submit in the check post..Then we came back to thimpu city... It was sunny in the city.. bupa took me to Memorial..its a Bhutanese temple.. we entered inside i got a clear idea how Bhutanese pray to god.. they used to offer local liquor and some eatable like chips to almighty.. we climbed to the top of the temple..there were stairs... I saw a lot of people praying out side... our next destination was budhha point.. again we have to climb one more hill.. On the way thimpu was looking so beautiful.. We saw the huge statue of Budhha in bright golden color inviting us... Thai and Indian workers were working there.. We took few snaps.. the entire thimpu city was eye catching from there... It was 2 PM so we came down to have some good food... we searched for some good food.. Finally we enter into red dragon restaurant ..Its a Chinese restaurant.. food was so good.. i ordered mixed fried rice with Chicken Manchurian.. It was a Tuesday.. dry day in Bhutan.. still we asked the hotel to give us a bottle and they were ready to give us but we had to pay the price peg wise so it was coming 3 times of the actual price... but we managed to get a bottle in a general shop ..it was Special courier... I was feeling little tired.. So told Bupa to drop me at my hotel also he has to go to his office for few hours... FYI he is a govt servant ... as well a taxi driver...
I came to my hotel room... Relaxed for an hour and again felt like roaming on the street.. Feeling so happy from inside... Chatted with lot of people on the road... they were so happy to talk to someone from other country.. people are honest,extremely friendly there.. Suddenly got a call from chokey and he was on the way to meet me... even bupa would be arriving shortly.. And both of them came.. bupa took us to his majesty’s office.. it was the most beautiful building in entire thimpu i guessed... We spend some time there... Then went to the national stadium to watch an international football match between Nepal and Bangladesh.. Bhutanese are crazy for soccer.. It was a great match... but could not manage to watch it till the end as we were running out of time... My next plan was to throw a small party to these people.. Bupa does nt drink...so we managed to get some good chicken dishes and headed to my hotel... we were chatting and having fun... the Beautiful lady the hotel in charge and one more bupa’s friend joined us..We really had a great time.. after couple of drinks we came out for dinner.. Bupa took me to a club where the Royal family member used to party.. that was the safest club in entire Thimpu.. lot of security. Entry fee was 500nu. Rest all the clubs are having less security and in some places lot of fights happen as bupa said..it was a beautiful club... I saw few Royal family members.. Local people were taking me as a foreigner.. We left the place around 11.30PM.. Bupa told me that he will give me a surprise. So he drove me to Buddha point at that time... on the way i saw the huge crowd.. all the love birds were killing their time there.. They have put on music from there cars with huge volume and tapping their feet with the tune.. it was as if party time.. Finally i reached my hotel room around 1.30AM.. and slept peacefully. Keep in mind if you are planning to come late to hotel please inform the hotel staffs.. else i fear you have to spend the entire night on the thimpu road as almost all the thimpu city retires by 10 PM.
Next morning i was feeling fresh... And i decided to walk to the busstand instead of taking a taxi... it was hardly 400 mtrs from my hotel... I reached well before my bus timing.,it was at 9 AM.Only 2 mornign buses ply from Thimpu to Paro everyday .1 is at 8 and mine was at 9.Fare is 45Nu.There are very few people on the bus.. Lots of Bhutanese students who were studying so that they can be another monk in future.. i was sitting in a double seat alone.. enjoying the journey and the view.. Bus was stopping at lot of places..people were giving stuffs for transportation to the driver and driver was taking some bucks for this service.Bus picked speed and the cool breese was hitting on my body i was feeling great.. it was a great morning..I was totally lost in the beautiful view.. as we reached paro airport i requested the driver to stop the bus for 5 minutes so that i can take some pictures.. he happily stopped and i took the Bird’s eye view.. paro airport is the scariest airport in the whole world.. I was surprised to know only 10 pilots are trained and allowed to fly in Bhutan.Only Druk airlines is allowed into the country.No other airlines are allowed into the country.. The airport covered by mountains .. We entered the paro town.. Its a smaller town compare to Thimpu. As i got down from the bus I went to the ticket counter and asked for ticket to Phuentosholling for day after tomorrow. Adn got my ttickets. Next thing to do for me is to find a hotel.. i heard a lot about Phunsum hotel from IM’ers ...so i asked few people and tgehy showed me the direction... its a budget hotel. And i took a double room for 900Nu. after bargaining... Room was small and cosy... the window view was beautiful... Mountains ,field.. totally green... It was time for lunch... so i came down and asked the care taker of the hotel is there any food available... he said with a smile cook is absent,,,so i had to hunt food outside...I saw a restaurant named Vimal restaurant.. one small girl gave me the menu card... I ordered fish ... She is 10 minutes came back with a plate of Rice Fish curry some veggies papad and pickle and salad.. the food was good... home made...I roamed here n there after that by hiring one taxi.. The driver was Nepali..His name was Ramesh.. He is a good person.. he showed me the Paro city told a lot of things about Bhutan life style,people night life.. there is not much night life in Paro coz its weekdays..He dropped me around 5 PM..i was roaming in the road.. I saw a bunch of kids playing football in a small ground.. the soccer skill they were having was awesome.. I interacted with their coach.. He was a hard working positive man for these kids future in soccer.. They allowed me to play football with them.. I played for sometime..but could not manage to hit a goal :P Finally i headed back to my hotel... By that time i saw a beautiful lady in the reception.. I came to know she is the owner of the hotel he greeted me with a big smile..I interacted with her.. asked her a lot of question... By my intention she came to know i am little disappointed for the almost NO night life in Paro.. It was so great of her she tried to kill my time by allowing me to the kitchen.. we prepared a indo Bhutanese fusion chicken curry... it was mouth watering,.. i gave her the idea but added some of her own spices and trick.. the gravy came out to be so good in color and tasty...So it was a good dinner... While having dinner i met one family from UP.. they were on a package tour... But they were not at all happy with the operator... After a heavy dinner i went to my room it was very cold and raining... i watched TV for sometime then went to sleep..
Next day when i got up it was almost 8AM.I came down and saw the same beautiful lady in Khira (National dress of Butan) she greeted me a big Good morning with her pretty smile.. Asked me what i love to have in breakfast.. I had plans of trekking so had to have something heavy she suggested Puri sabjee.. ya greedily said ya... that was indeed different and good... After breakfast my Driver Ramesh came on time and waiting near the hotel... He had a maruti omni.. My hotel lady asked Ramesh to take proper care of me.. that was so good to hear.. I was sitting in front seat.. some local people were asking for the lift i told Ramesh anyway the vehicle is empty we can pick them up and he can get soem extra bucks.. he agreed with a big smile.. Finally we reached the foot of taksang (Tiger’s nest)... On the way it was full of Apple trees.. apple apple every where in Bhutan as its the apple season. I met few foreigners on the foot of the hill... I said by to ramesh and started my hike.. His last words were if i am not getting any taxis for coming back then i can call him and he will pick me up... I nodded my head.. i started my climb... i was all alone... it was little slippery so i had to be careful.. On the way i met lot of ladies selling stuffs like statue and handicrafts...those were so expensive.. but i managed to get some stuffs for my friends after long bargaining...I was climbing and climbing ... only my iPod was my partner.. i met few people coming down mostly foreigners..Finally i reached cave one.still long way to trek... Finally i reached the place... My effort didn’t go for useless... i captured the beautiful Tiger’s nest there... sat there for sometime to watch it deeply... It was breath taking... Finally its time to come down... I picked up my pace and reached the base in less than 2 hours. Again my bad luck i was not able to find a single taxi in the base... I asked some people they told me to walk to some 2-3 kms to get the taxi... Now i was thinking to call Ramesh... but i dropped the plan and decided to walk in the nature... I was crossing a small village it has 77 houses..I crossed a beautiful bridge... my walk was endless ... Finally 1 lady was coming in her omni..its so sweet of her he gave me lift and dropped me in the junction where i can get a taxi... 1 taxi was already standing there... i boarded there... and he directly left me in the hotel.. in cost of 25nu only... My legs and whole body was retiring... i was damn tired... My hotel lady was standing and greeted me with a big smile... i entered my room got freshen up... asked her for some coffee.. she instead told me to have some local beers... i liked the idea.. and we entered in the restaurant tahts attached to the hotel.. and she pulled out few Druk 11000 beers with 2 glasses.. it was an honour for me that she joined me for couple of drinks... She promised me that she will serve me some really good food that night.. They all were treating me as a king coz i was the only guest that night.. And indeed she has prepared some really yummie food for me.. Some pork dishes and eggs..It was really good.. I was so damn tired that night that i even did not know when i slept... I got up and rushed to the door next morning as the care taker boy was ringing my room bell..I realized that its about to 7.30 and i had a bus at 9 and i told him to wake me up.. he just asked me what i want in breakfast.. I said some momos.. he left i got ready packed my bag.. and came down by 8.15 my food was ready i had the food.. and by that time the owner arrived she gave a lift upto bus stand.. my bus was standing there.. Only 12 people were there in that 21 seater Toyota coaster bus.. Driver was so friendly ..was interacting with me very sweetly.. one guy offere me the local apple i accepted that with a big thank you.. Bus started at sharp 9AM.. road was muddy due to last night heavy rain... I was occupying alone the double seat. Bus was really comfortable..they have kept some extra cushion in the form of pillow... Leg space was huge in that bus.. bus was running in full speed... sky was clear n sunny... i was lost in the beautiful view... after 1 hour bus stopped at a place for a break... driver put on his GHO... and our journey resumed...at 11 AM bus stopped at a place... there was a huge road block... hundreds of vehicles were stucked there.. driver told me to walk till the immigration office to show my permit.. i walked and showed them and when i enquired they said that it was a 3 hours road blockage due to road widening work... so we had to get stranded there... it was so boring... finally at 2 PM the road was clear.. and my driver was over taking everyone as if he is in really emergency... he was driving at high speed... but i was surprised to see the skills he was having on those extreme hilly roads...we stopped after an hour at a hotel...for lunch break... i asked for chicken but it was not there only beef was there so i had to manage with beef.. it was ok ok food... again our journey started by this time weather was totally changed it started raining...it was pouring like cats and dogs... visibility was almost nil.. but all credit goes to my skilful driver... he was overtaking all the odds... again one more road blockage but it was for few minutes.... Finally we were entering Phuentosholling... At the last check post i had to deposit my permit... i gave it there and the officer asked me how was the trip... honestly i did not have time else i would have told the entire good things i faced in Bhutan...Finally i reached Phuentosholling but i did nt have any mood to go back to India... So i booked one hotel .It was a budget hotel Hotel Kuenga.Its owned by a Bengali person.. Its just a manageable hotel.. I got fresh up there... Came down and roamed on the street buy some stuffs specially handicrafts.I tried to meet jimmy but he has already left office for the day.. Phuentosholling is a crowded place due to the influence of Indians..
Once came to Jaigaon... It was drizzling... So the Indian road was totally muddy and lot of touts... Though i had dinner at Annapurna hotel on India side.. Food was Bengali... I tried fish and chicken.. it was good.. At night i was thinking of Bhutan... and slept peacefully.. Was upset coz that was the last night in Bhutan,,,
Next morning i woke up really early... packed my bag... took shower... came out of the hotel... Walked towards the Bhutan gate... Stepped on Indian soil.. for a minute i stared at the Bhutan gate and took a deep breath... And prepared my self that i have to move on... I took an auto rickshaw it was asking for 180 Rs. But I managed in 120Rs. The greedy driver was continuously asking for more passenger.. i strictly told no...coz i have reserved that... On the way i saw the tea estates.. and suddenly it started pouring... Before 5km of Reaching Hashimara.. Finally the greedy driver managed to convince me and took 1 passenger... Finally we reached hashimara... It was only 6.45AM.. I had planned to take Mahananda Express which was at 7.50AM.. But Intercity express was coming at 6.50 so i took a ticket for Siliguri as I have to meet a friend ..It costs 50Rs.Train came on time,.. It was so empty.. And it was moving so slowly... The view was really great... I crossed beautiful Teesta river bridge... Finally at 11 AM the train halted at Siliguri junction...I met my friend there... And took one Shared Auto rickshaw to New jalpaiguri.. It costs 10 Rs... When i reached NJP I was scared coz due to issues in Assam all the trains are delayed.. My train was at 9.30 PM to Guwahati.. People were waiting for long long time.. trains were running 12-16 hrs late at an average.. At the last moment I had been scared... Thankfully my train Bangalore-Guwahati Express reach before time ..I boarded the train... The AC Coach was empty as well.. I took my berth and slept.. Got up early as train was heading to Guwahati...I saw the mighty Brahmaputra which runs in the heart of Guwahati.. It reached by 7 AM. I took a hotel for 2 hours to fresh up... Changed my clothes... Took one Cycle Rickshaw and headed to the Volvo point... to get the bus ticket for airport... It took 20 Rs to drop me there...I got the ticket for 11AM bus with the cost of 130 Rs... and waited there.. Buses are mentioned as Volvo but they are not Volvo buses those were simply AC buses.. Bus started on time... And took 90 minutes to drop at the Airport entrance.. If you are planning to have lunch in airport you wont find any restaurants out side airport... Only restaurant inside airport is Airport lounge.. where i was forced to have Egg biriyani with the cost of Rs.220... From Guwahati airport there are Helicopters to Shillong(Meghalaya),Tawang,Ita nagar (Arunachal Pradesh) and all other North East states..Finally I entered the aircraft it started on time... I reached Bangalore at sharp 7.10 PM .
This is the end of a beautiful trip to one of the beautiful county... I promised to myself I will be coming Bhutan soon.
Some Useful Info
New Alipur Duar - Phuentosholling (58 Kms)
By Taxi 90 minutes.(Booked Taxi : Rs.800- 1000 ; Shared taxi : Rs.200)
Bus 2 hours (Rs. 50)
Bus ply all day not so comfortable over crowded.
You can get taxi round the clock.But during night its difficult to get shared taxis.Bargain for Taxis properly.
Hashimara to Phuentosholling (17 Kms)
By Auto 20 minutes (Booked : Rs.120 ; Shared Rs.20-25)
Bargain for Auto.120 is the maximum .
Phuentosholling to Thimpu (178 Kms)
By Taxi 4-5 hours (Booked Rs.2400 for Alto ; Shared : Rs.500-600)
By Bus 6 hours (Rs.210)
Buses are available whole day in 1 hour interval upto 4.30PM.Try to get the bus maximum by 2 PM.If you have already booked your hotel and you have informed your hotel that you are arriving late then you can take bus post 2 PM.Coz Thimpu will be closed by 10 PM.
Taxis ply whole day long.
Toyota coaster buses are much more comfortable.
Phuentosholling to Paro ( 158 Kms)
By Taxi 4 hours (Booked Rs.2200 for Alto ; Shared Rs.500)
By Bus 5 hours (Rs.200)
Only 2 buses starts from Phuentosholling in the morning.
Taxis ply whole day upto 4 PM.
Thimpu to Paro (52 Kms)
By Taxi (Booked : Rs.800 ; Shared : Rs.200)
By Bus (Rs.45)
Only 2 buses go in the morning at 8AM and 9AM.Those are Eicher buses.
Taxis go all the time.