The Land of the Thunder Dragon (BHUTAN) – Day 7 and 8

Day 7
24.12.2010 (Friday)
Thimpu -Bhutan to Local Site Seeing Zoo, Museum, Local Immigration Office & Art & Craft Museum = 23 kms

Starting Place: Hotel Singey Thimpu (Bhutan)
Starting Km Reading: 5620 km @ Hotel Singey
Starting Time: 10.45 A.M. Morning
Closing Km Reading: 5643 km @ Hotel Singey
Closing Time: 18.00 P.M. Evening

Day – 7 started with a very relaxed mood a bit of lazing and reluctance to leave the warm bed as we had reached our final destination after 6 days of continuous driving except for night halts.We all got ready by 10.30 A.M. and had a good break fast. Hotel Singey has a good kitchen & cooks and they served good dishes.Once we were ready we went outside to get the feel of the warmth of the morning Sun.We took some photos with the warm sun heating us after a very cold night the sun felt really great.

Inside the Hotel Singey Thimpu

Outside in the Sun



HVK had advised us to first go to the Thimpu Immigration office and apply to get new permits to visit other restricted areas such as Punaka, Wangdu, Trongsa, Bumthang, Jakar, Mongar, Samdrum Jhonkar and exit through Ringey into Guwahati India.I went to the immigration office & filled up the necessary form and attached all photo copies of our pass port photo-ID etc and wrote in the form very clearly that I wanted to visit all these places which are in central part of Bhutan & finally exit through Ringey into Guwahati India.The permits will be made ready & you have to collect them by late afternoon / evening.After the immigration office we went to the Zoo to watch the national animal of Bhutan the TAKIN and we also visited a museum near by and an art & craft centre. It was interesting.

Young Lady! You need a driving license!!!

Utham Anna counting his Bhutan Currency

FIAT Linea parked in front of Thimpu Immigration office building

We were at the Folk Heritage Museum @ Kawajangsa. It was a very interesting place.

Inside the Folk Heritage Museum @ Kawajangsa

Exhibit inside the Museum

Musuem In-charge

Choki Handicraft is just adjacent to the museum & we visited this place.

Warm clothes for sale in the shop

Mask for sale in the shop

We are on our way to visit the Zoo where the National Animal of Bhutan TAKIN can be seen.

On the way to the Zoo

Inside the Zoo

We met a couple of families who had come from Kolkatta & they were surprised to see a car with TN number plate that had come all the way from Tamil Nadu & were even more surprised to know that we had come driving all the way from Coimbatore to Bhutan covering 3300 odd KMs.They were taken aback when they came to know that there was only 1 driver in our team of 4. These guys are members in TBHP & said they know about HVK, who doesn’t know HVK?? In fact these guys had also stayed in the same Hotel Singey. I don’t recollect their names now but they were happy to meet a fellow Indian.

Bhutanese love DOGs & you can see a whole lot of them roaming freely in all places. Well these DOGs look pretty healthy with thick fur and well fed, mind you these are street DOGs.

Healthy Dogs

After the visit to the Museum & Zoo by evening 4.30 PM we went to the immigration office to collect our special permit to visit other restricted areas.It was a complete MESS. They had issued me permit to visit Punaka, Wangdu, Trongsa & Bumthang but I had asked Jakar, Mongar, Trashigang, Samdrup Jhonkar & exit to Guwahati through Ringey. Now with this permit I could not go to all the places I had planned to visit.I had to start from Thimpu & return back after visiting all the 4 places they had given permission & return back from Thimpu to Phetsholing back to India.This permit did not help me at all. Unfortunately being Friday evening the staff had left and I had to just bang my head at the service counter. The next 2 days were holidays & my best laid plans went through the window.This is how I felt like doing below.

We returned back to the hotel & called up HVK and informed him. He too was disappointed nevertheless he encouraged us to look at the brighter side.The temperature was hovering at zero & less than zero at nights & early morning hours at Thimpu itself and we felt extremely chill, it meant the central part of Bhutan which we had planned to visit would be even more extremely chill and might go down to minus 4 or 5 making it very difficult for the kids to bear extreme cold.There might be snow fall & ice formation on road. So we had to use the 2 days left Saturday & Sunday to visit PARO & Punaka & Wangdu only. Visit to other places was ruled out.Both the kids enjoying themselves in the room watching cartoons & doing their painting & art work.

The time was 6.30 P.M. and since it becomes very dark we all hit the bed by 10 P.M. after a tasty dinner. It was extremely cold at night and the 2 room heaters & blankets just about kept us warm.

Day – 8

25.12.2010 (Saturday)
Thimpu (Bhutan) to PARO, Bondey Airport & Local Site Seeing = 139 kms

Starting Place: Hotel Singey Thimpu (Bhutan)
Starting Km Reading: 5643 km @ Hotel Singey
Starting Time: 06.35 A.M. Morning
Closing Km Reading: 5782 km @ Hotel Singey
Closing Time: 18.00 P.M. Evening

Day – 8 started with a very a feeling that the previous day’s permit issued at Immigration office at Thimpu was messed up & it felt really bad but we had to accept our fate.We decided to use today to visit PARO. Going to Trongsa & Bumtang was ruled out as we did not get permit to visit Jakar, Mongar, Samdrup Jhonkar & to Ringey to exit out to Guwahati.

As a last try I told my wife we will go to the Police Head Quarters & went by 8 AM and we met the Station In-charge & told him our problem of not getting permit to visit other areas. He was helpful in listening but said these are immigration matters to be dealt by that dept only. Being Saturday & next day Sunday the immigration office was closed & no one to help. The officer gave me the number of Director of Immigration & I spoke with him by 9.30 AM. The gentleman was on leave & heard me out & was apologised for the mistake made by his staff in spite of me clearly mentioning the names of all the areas I wanted to visit.

He told me if I am there on Monday I could come & meet him at his office and he will reissue the permit. Unfortunately that would completely delay my return as I had a deadline commitment to be back in Coimbatore by 2nd January 2011. I thanked him for his help & wished him a happy week-end.

So on Day – 8 we planned to visit Paro.

A View of the Road and the Traffic

The landscape & drive to PARO was fantastic.

Drive to Paro

Buddhist Prayer Wheel


Locals come here & turn this wheel & say their prayers.

We stopped at this water fall where rain water was coming down from the mountains down and there was heavy wind & chilly. This place was nice.

Waterfall

We have to stop at this check post & show the papers & register our details.

Check Post

This water comes from mountains & is considered as holy water & it is rich in minerals. Most of the travellers stop here and collect this water & drink it. We did the same.

Holy Water

There is this beautiful river that flows long way when you drive to PARO and you can see this water a long way. We found a place where there were some local boys crossing this river in some sort of winch and enjoying. We too stopped at this place and both my kids & my wife had whale of a time throwing stones & pebbles into the river. They were not ready to leave this place. The water was chill & very cold & as we just dipped our fingers we had remove them immediately. This river water was crystal clear & you could see the river bottom & clean flowing river. In a way BHUTAN is blessed to have so many small rivers flowing & brining in mountain rain water.

On the River Banks

Crystal-Clear Water of the River

The view of PARO Bondey Airport is simply superb. I waited some time hoping to see if any aircraft would land or take off. No luck.

Airport

A building in Bhutan

Paro city is neat & clean and in a way beautiful. You will see a lot of high-end SUV cars imported mostly Toyota, KIA, Hyundai, Pajero, Prado etc.

Paro City

We saw this very old lady & I requested her that I will take a photo by showing my camera. Another lady was with her & she explained to the old woman who I wanted to take a snap, initially she refused and I had to plead & she agreed to be snapped. Thanks Great Grand Ma.

Kind Old Woman

We saw a monkey in the wilderness while coming back to Thimpu from PARO. This was a langur monkey. We finally returned back to Thimpu city by 6 PM evening and went around for some local shopping. We were back to our hotel room & retired for the day by 10 PM.

7 Comments

  • Anil Misra says:

    Dear MN, I too like to drive long distancs but I can’t imagine driving 6 days in a row and particularly with two kids and wife. You have the most understanding wife and kids: my regards/love. Brilliant driving and writing. Congrats.

  • MN says:

    Hi Anil,

    It really was challenging to me too to drive such long distances and in all we did 7280 kms in 16 days (120kms short of 7400 kms) which averages to 462 kms everyday. It was a test of endurance for all 5 of us (2 adults, 2 kids) & the car. I really have to say my wife & kids sat through the whole trip and enjoyed. Many of my friends have really asked me how your wife & kids can manage to sit continuosuly inside the car for almost 2 weeks – well I can only say they need to buy in in this trip and I had to keep them engaged & happy all through out. Else boredom sets in and it becomes monotonous and people will crack if confined for long time in small places he he..

    I started my first trip in 2008-2009 & we did 3334 km in 15 days Coimbatore to Gokak Falls in Karnataka and since then there was no looking back. In 2009-2010 we did a trip of 6800 kms in 18 days & went from Coimbatore to SAM 50 kms away from Jaisalmer and a camel safari camp which is some 80 kms away from Indo-Pakistan Border. It was a great & long trip too.

    This 2010-2011 we did Coimbatore – Bhutan 7400 kms in 16 days.

    Now it has become a case of Yeh Dil Mange More..

    My kids have already started hinting & suggesting what next?..Well there is a whole lot of places in India we are yet to see..Jammu Kashmir, Himachal Leh Ladak, Punjab, Uttaranchal, Nepal, Arunachal Pradesh & Far East states..

    2 things are definately required – Lots of Time & lots of Money!!! Such long trips cost a bomb!!!

    I suggest you too should start in a small way by taking small steps and build up the confidence & stamina and more than the jouney it is the detailed planning preperation that is most important if we have to execute such long trips with clear precision. I am sure anyone can do it – it is the self belief that I can do it and I wont let myself down.

    Please remember this “No one can encourage you more than yourself.” Thats self motivation.

    I have a never say die attitude in everything I do. I dont give up easily else I wont take it up at all. In all these 3 trips even my wife & kids never ever said we are tired and lets cancel the trip & go back. Never.

    I did a lot of search 3 months in advance and also went for 1 hour walk for 3 months to keep myself physically fit. A tired body & mind is very dangerous on the highway.

  • drtaher says:

    Dear MN,

    Thank you for a quick installment … it was every bit as enjoyable for me to read as it must surely have been for you to write. We missed your tabulation of the expenses and the hotel tarriff and so on which you wrote in so much detail in your earlier 7 contributions, but no worries … you can catch up with these in your next segments.

    I also enjoyed reading your reply to the first comment. You are so right about people cracking up when confined to small spaces for long hours. That is what happens to happily married couples too, LOL.

  • drtaher says:

    One quick question: Is that the Takin in the picture labelled “Inside the zoo”?

  • MN says:

    Hi Dr.Taher,

    Thanks to know you have enjoyed the journey so far. All details with the minute cost break-up, time of pssing the toll gate, hotel bills, food bills, total expenditure details every minute details have been noted down by me & my wife and we have shared.

    We tabulated every minute thing & we have our own seperate personal blog (google blogger site) which is much more in detail with lots many photos. I infact paid some money to get extra space to upload a huge amout of photos. Here is the link to that sir.

    http://mnlml.blogspot.com/2011/02/life-mein-linea-road-trip-coimbatore-to.html

    In Ghumakkar we can only upload few photos & give details per blog and it is always very short & sweet.

    However if you want to know all the details, kindly click on the link and you will see everything.

    Yes it is TAKIN and more pictures of this beautiful creature are in my blog in the link on day 7 when we visited the Zoo. There is an interesting story on how the Takin came into exsistence which I have photographed & shared in my blog.

    I agree about cracking up when confined together..there is an old saying “Familiarity breeds contempt”

    Do you know something..you will always will hate/dislike/argue with someone whom you know!!!! He he..what a life..Any way please take these comments in a lighter vein..

    I had to keep my energetic kids very engaged all throughout and it can be a real challenge too..

  • Nandan says:

    MN – Very soon you are going to have a fan club here :-).

    I am not sure whether you had a chance to read about Anil’s logs. I am noting the link below.
    http://www.ghumakkar.com/author/anilmisra/ I wont tell you more, so please read his log when you are free.

    Regarding the information, I believe all of it should be available here so if something is getting chopped, it is by mistake and we would gladly fix it. We are not able to host all the photos so we choose only a few of them.

    I was more interested to know more about Thimpu. Is King’s palace (may be some part of it) accessible for general people ? How big is the city ? I have heard that most of the people who visit Bhutan, often prefer Paro and Paro is really very beautiful.

    On to your next story.

  • MN says:

    Hi Nanda,

    I had aske around at hotel Singey about the prospects of visiting the Royal palace.

    The access to the Royal palace is off limits to the common public which is well guarded by Royal Bhutanese guards & I did not want to check their tolerance & aim.

    I atleast hoped they would atleast allow visitors to have a look at the palace from a safe distance but no.

    You see the Royal palace houses His Highness King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and his family members and hence they do not allow public.

    If it was like palaces in India where it is open for public it would have been great. The city Thimpu isint very big end to end it must be within 10 kms and you will be out of the city driving.

    Bhutan is a very beautiful country and I do recommend to anyone who wants to visit a far away beautiful place to visit Bhutan. In a sence I went at the wrong time at peak winter i.e December where the temperature was minus 1 and can go down to minus 4 or 5 in some central part of Bhutan.

    People who get their 1st permit get entry only into 2 cities – Thimpu city Capital of Bhutan & Paro. Paro is a very beautiful place and you will really enjoy the scenic beauty you will see the beautiful Bondey Airport which is situated in between 2 hills and I am sure landing & taking of these small airplanes will look simply awesome.

    Once you are in Thimpu you should go to the Thimpu Immigration office and again freshly apply to get new permits to visit other restricted areas such as Punaka, Wangdu, Trongsa, Bumthang, Jakar, Mongar, Samdrum Jhonkar and exit through Ringey into Guwahati India. If you dont do this then you cannot visit these places without permit. A permit is a must to have & keep extra photo copies.

    Inspite of my mentioning these details in my request for fresh permit they only issued me to visit Punakha, Wangdu, Trongsa & Bumtang and had omitted other cities which I had asked.

    Dochula Pass on way to Punakha was simply mesmerising and very beautiful. The 108 chortens on a hillock look so great from a distance.

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