Bhutan - The land of Happiness

#1 Jun 21st, 2017, 01:45
Join Date:
Jun 2017
Location:
Kolkata
Posts:
14
  • Sharmistha9 is offline
#1
My first attempt to write a travelogue – this is a token of thanks to all the members in this forum whose posts helped me to plan my Bhutan trip, a nearly flawless planning all done in less than 3 weeks!!!


The planning:
Sometimes, it’s difficult to plan a trip a long time ahead, mostly due to work. So more often than not ours becomes a last-minute deal.
Overworked and looking for a break I decided on Bhutan to be our destination this time.

First step was to book train / flight tickets, However, my search did not return much impressive result.

• Train tickets to Hasimara - not available,
• Flight tickets to Paro - completely sold off.
• Tickets till NJP – very full

I felt dejected, looked like I would have to change my plan. For a day or two I looked for other alternative destinations but somehow Bhutan remained in the back of my mind. My inner self kept telling me that it’s got to be Bhutan this time.
At work, we always have our backup plans ready, I thought there must be alternate possibilities here as well. So,with my not to give up attitude, I tried to re think my travel options. I could fly to Bagdogra and then travel by road to Phuentsholing, but I wanted to avoid that road journey specially since it would be uncomfortable for my parents. I sat with the map, looked at the train route and searched for options. I could go to Malda and take a train to Hasimara. there would be around 4 hrs waiting in Malda. As I was discussing this option with my dad, my mom commented that there were trains between Katihar and Hasimara. Katihar is my mamabari (maternal uncles’ place). I grabbed her hint and started looking for trains from Katihar to Hasimara, and yes seats were indeed available. I booked the tickets immediately, we would spend one day in Katihar before embarking on our Bhutan trip. What better start I could have than start the trip from mamabari, (mamabari bhari moja kil chor nai!!)

Tickets booked, next was accommodation. I could go for spot booking, in fact we have done that in many of our trips before. I was a bit apprehensive about a few things though:
1) I was not very sure if after demonetization the new 2000 and 500 notes will be accepted all over in Bhutan, if not we would be in trouble since we would definitely not have so much cash in smaller denomination. Hence, I wanted to make most of the payment from beforehand.
(For future travelers, INR 2000 and 500 notes are widely accepted in Phuentsholing, Thimphu and Paro, so no worries)
2) Our schedule was pretty tight and I wanted to save some time by doing prior bookings.
3) Also I had heard that during processing the permit the Hotel name at Thimphu would be required making prior booking necessary.

I looked at several hotels, contacted a few travel operators, mails were exchanged, calls were made and finally just 3 days prior to my travel I confirmed the plan with BK.

The day:
3rd Jun 2017, Saturday – It was a fine Saturday morning, as the early rays of sun fell on my face, I woke up with a happy feeling. Spent the day in packing, well yes you can blame me for leaving things till the last day, but I managed it quite well. We boarded the Hate Bazare Express and it departed from Sealdah at 8:10 pm. I always carry a book whenever I travel, this time I was carrying the Bhutan edition from a travel compilation (Ramyani Bikhya), This was published in 1987, and I wanted to understand how much things have changed over years. I took the upper bunk with the book in my hand and dreams in my eyes.

4th Jun 2017, Sunday – We reached Katihar at around 8 am and headed for my maternal uncle’s place. A day full of nostalgia, cherishing childhood memories, chit chat with maternal uncles, in short it was a day well spent.
#2 Jun 21st, 2017, 11:42
Join Date:
Oct 2007
Location:
Kolkata
Posts:
2,957
  • asishdas is offline
#2
Nice beginning! Keep rolling.
#3 Jun 21st, 2017, 12:19
Join Date:
Apr 2015
Location:
Kolkata
Posts:
592
Send a message via Skype™ to Suparna Acharya
  • Suparna Acharya is offline
#3
Great start!! Yes even though theoretically denominations of Rs. 500/- and Rs. 2000/- is not accepted, but practical situation is just opposite. Rs. 500/- and Rs. 2000/- denominations are widely accepted within P/Soling, Thimphu and Paro.

Anyway subscribed!! Looking forward to next part!!
#4 Jun 21st, 2017, 21:44
It's all Greek to me, but Benglish will do
Join Date:
Dec 2005
Location:
over a 'wine-dark sea'
Posts:
16,405
  • theyyamdancer is offline
#4
Well written introduction to your travelogue; looking forward to the rest of it !
#5 Jun 23rd, 2017, 01:15
Join Date:
Jun 2017
Location:
Kolkata
Posts:
14
  • Sharmistha9 is offline
#5
Thanks @asishdas. I had read your Bhutan trip report and I must say it was very inspiring
#6 Jun 23rd, 2017, 01:17
Join Date:
Jun 2017
Location:
Kolkata
Posts:
14
  • Sharmistha9 is offline
#6
Thank you Suparna Acharya, I had read your Bhutan trip report too and helped me a lot during my planning !!
#7 Jun 23rd, 2017, 01:19
Join Date:
Jun 2017
Location:
Kolkata
Posts:
14
  • Sharmistha9 is offline
#7
Thanks theyyamdancer, will post the next part over the long weekend
#8 Jun 23rd, 2017, 05:45
Join Date:
Mar 2012
Location:
Sydney, Australia
Posts:
10,990
  • Govindpuri is offline
#8
Good beginning. I first wend to Bhutan in 1983. Looking forward to your comparison of modern Bhutan to Bhutan of 1987.
#9 Jun 23rd, 2017, 16:38
Join Date:
Apr 2015
Location:
Kolkata
Posts:
592
Send a message via Skype™ to Suparna Acharya
  • Suparna Acharya is offline
#9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharmistha9 View Post Thank you Suparna Acharya, I had read your Bhutan trip report too and helped me a lot during my planning !!
Thank You

I'm glad that it helped you

This is what we are here for. For me @Ashish Da and @mehpra's post helped me a lot while planning
#10 Jun 24th, 2017, 23:18
Join Date:
Jun 2017
Location:
Kolkata
Posts:
14
  • Sharmistha9 is offline
#10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Govindpuri View Post Good beginning. I first wend to Bhutan in 1983. Looking forward to your comparison of modern Bhutan to Bhutan of 1987.
Thank you 1983, wow that's way back, from what I have read so far it was definitely not such a touristy destination at that time.
#11 Jun 24th, 2017, 23:27
Join Date:
Jun 2017
Location:
Kolkata
Posts:
14
  • Sharmistha9 is offline
#11
5th Jun 2017, Monday – We had an early morning train to Hasimara. Our train was scheduled to depart from Katihar at 7:25 am.

BK called me at noon and gave the driver’s number who would be picking us up from Hasimara.

I never get tired gazing out of the windows during train journeys, specially when nature presents such an awesome view - tea gardens, couple of tunnels, hills and hillocks in the distant, small streams made the journey very special.

We reached Hasimara at around 3:45 pm. A Wagon R was waiting for us, the driver Kumar drove us to BK’s office in Jaigaon. Jaigaon is a congested and crowded place. We made the payment to BK and he instructed Kumar to drop us at the Asian hotel in Phuentsholing.

When I was preparing my Bhutan itinerary I had initially thought about moving to Thimphu on the same day of arrival in Phuentsholing. In fact, I would have preferred if we had got our permits done from Kolkata itself. But since the planning was done in such a short time getting the permit from Kolkata was not an option, hence we had to stay overnight in Phuentsholing and planned to move to Thimphu the next day after getting our permits.

We crossed the Bhutan gate and yes, we were in Bhutan 😊 All the building had similar structure, I had an immediate liking for the aesthetically built structures.

The Asian hotel, just 2 minutes from the Bhutan Gate was a nice choice, very clean rooms, nice view, with all amenities, definitely recommended. It has a restaurant in the upper floor as well.
There was a big building with a large courtyard just opposite to our hotel.


The weather was pleasant. We spent the evening walking around the streets of Phuentsholing. Spent some time in the Zangto Pelri temple and the park adjacent to it.


I liked the fact that cars would stop for pedestrians crossing the road near zebra crossing, no need to look at signals, Really Disciplined.



6th Jun 2017, Monday – I woke up at around 6:30 am. As I looked outside the Window, there was a queue in front of the big building I had noticed the previous night, I looked on to find the people in the queue had some forms and papers in their hands. It was then that I realized, that was the Immigration office we would have to visit to get our permits done.
We got ready quickly, at 8:15 am a young guy from BK’s office came and took us to the immigration office. There was already a huge crowd waiting there. We first waited in the ground floor.
One very important thing to remember is you must dress wisely while in Bhutan. Many people (irrespective of gender) were sent back from the Immigration Office for wearing shorts. One elderly guy whose entire family other than himself was sent back, tried to argue, someone from the crowd told him, “Show some respect, do you visit your Govt offices in shorts?” Very well said, a valid point.

Soon our turn came and we were asked to go to the first floor for Biometrics. Some more waiting and then our turn came, photographs and finger prints were taken. Mine and my dad’s pictures were taken details were entered and then it was my mom’s turn. I was happy that finally the wait was over and we would have our permits shortly. But alas! The internet connection was disrupted. I was anxious. More waiting, and finally after a long wait the connection was back, we were done. There was a guy from BK who said he would collect our permits and we can head back to our hotel.

We visited the Zangto Pelri temple again and lighted butter lamps.

It was almost noon, and I was hungry. We walked into a pizzeria, ‘The Kizome Café’. We ordered a Pizza, had a mango slush while the Pizza was being prepared. It was refreshing. We took away the Pizza to our hotel, so that we could do our packing. As we reached the hotel, the receptionist informed that BK had called and we should be leaving shortly. She was not very happy since we had passed the checkout time of 12 noon, I tried telling her that it was due to the internet connection at the immigration office. I am sure had we booked the accommodation on our own and not through a tour operator she would definitely have charged one more days’ charge. We almost gobbled the Pizza while getting ready. The pizza was okayish, I am a Pizza lover and have tasted much better pizza. Shortly we got a call from the reception informing us that our driver had come.
As we moved out, we met Namgyal, our driver or maybe I should better term him as our ‘friend’ for this entire trip. He was dressed in Gho, the Bhutanese traditional costume for men. He guided us towards his red Hyundai Tuscon, a great car, comfortable, spacious, offered a smooth ride.
My dad took the front seat beside Namgyal and me and my mom made ourselves comfortable in the back seat.
Namgyal drove us to the Kharbandi Gompa. The view from the Gompa of Phuentsholing is simply amazing. We were not very interested in visiting the crocodile park and started our journey towards Thimphu. Namgyal said that it’s going to be a long drive , almost 5 hrs. I told him that we enjoy long drives and specially when the drive is amidst such mesmerizing view. However after sometime I started feeling a bit of nausea. I have travelled a lot, the road condition in this case was much better than some of my past trips, and I never had this uncomfortable feeling. I was wondering what happened to me suddenly, I wanted to enjoy the captivating view, I was worried because this was just the start of the trip and how would I enjoy the trip if I my health disagreed. My mom said that it had nothing to do with the hills or my health, but it must something to do with the Pizza, for some reason it did not agree with me, more so since we had had it in such hurry. Namgyal stopped midway for lunch, I was in no mood to eat anything. I bought some soft drinks from an adjacent shop. I felt a bit better in the next part of the journey. We passed by the Chukha Hydel Power project, we saw nice cozy wooden houses amidst the hills. The road in one place became very foggy and was a bit of a risky drive. Namgyal showed us road which goes to Paro and Ha.
Namgyal had a great collection of music, nice English and Hindi songs, and some Bhutanese music as well which sounded very soothing to the ear. He chatted with us about a lot of things, explained us several things as we moved along.

We reached Thimphu around 6/ 6:30 pm. Droelma Residency was our hotel this time. One issue was that even though it was a very nice property but there was no lift and we were given rooms in the 3rd floor. This was one of the very few things where BK had not met our expectation. I had clearly stated that it would be difficult for my parents to climb the stairs, that too 3rd floor and bookings should be made accordingly. All other rooms being booked, we had to take up this room. The room was in one word HUGE, decorated in wooden panels, but looked like it was not used in a while.
I went out with my mom to get dinner while my dad stayed back in the hotel. We walked round a bit, saw the clock tower on the way and then there in front of us was the Hotel Ghasel , had I not read review of this hotel in Indiamike? Yes, this would be our dinner destination for the night. We packed the dinner and got back to our hotel.
This was one place in Bhutan which had very good wifi connectivity, so after dinner I took some time to surf the net, replying to WhatsApp messages, check my mails etc, etc.
#12 Jun 29th, 2017, 13:50
Join Date:
Oct 2014
Location:
Kolkata, India
Posts:
254
  • Avishek_T is offline
#12
Things were going nice.... And then a long gap
Please continue and add pics for our visual treat.
Regards,
Avishek.
______________________________ ________________

Kaluk & Uttarey | Bawali-Raypur | Uttarakhand after 32 years | Uttorer Oli-Goli | Dhobi Ghat of Kolkata | Rolep (East Sikkim) | Bhutan Trip Report
#13 Jul 2nd, 2017, 02:16
Join Date:
Jun 2017
Location:
Kolkata
Posts:
14
  • Sharmistha9 is offline
#13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Avishek_T View Post Things were going nice.... And then a long gap
Please continue and add pics for our visual treat.
Thank you. Sorry for the delay, was a little busy. But I am ready with the next part . Hope you like it !
#14 Jul 2nd, 2017, 02:29
Join Date:
Jun 2017
Location:
Kolkata
Posts:
14
  • Sharmistha9 is offline
#14
7th Jun 2017, Wednesday: This day was dedicated for Thimphu sightseeing plus getting the permit for Punakha. Namgyal took care of the permit and picked us up at 10 am. Before leaving the hotel, I requested the beautiful girl at the front desk to change our rooms to one of the lower floors when we came back, and she agreed.

Namgyal drove us around the city, showed us the national stadium, some schools and colleges. We saw a school were the terrace was guarded on all sides by high nets and was converted into a football ground for the kids, remarkable construction indeed.

We visited a number places around Thimphu on this day (I hope I don’t miss mentioning any)

We started with an Art & Craft school.
National Institute of Zorig Chusum (Art & Craft School) – Entry Fee 100 Nu /head. The first thing that will come to your mind when you visit this place is that, you should concentrate on what you like best, what you can do best. In this institute, students are taught various courses like Sculpturing, Painting, Embroidery, Weaving, Carpentry, Silversmith etc. You can see students at work and also various items in display by the students. A few things are for sale as well, I loved a Kira but the price was a bit on the higher side. For me, visiting this place was an amazing and enriching experience.

Folk Heritage Museum – Entry is free for visiting the garden and a few places displaying some art and crafts material, but to enter further entry fee of 50 Nu /head is applicable.
This museum in a three storey building showcases how Bhutanese people lived in the ancient times, the artifacts and different rooms for an entire household is on display. You can also witness the art of brewing Bhutanese liquor. Photography is prohibited in this area.

National Library – A wide collection of books and manuscripts, but mostly in local language (Dzongkha, I guess).

National memorial Chorten – This was a special treat. This stupa is in the heart of the city. What made our visit special was it was then hosting The Third Royal Bhutan Flower Exhibition. (This festival was held between 4th – 11th Jun). Entry was fee was 300 Nu / head, but it was totally worth it. I have never witnessed something so beautiful, gorgeous flowers and out of the world decoration. Beautiful flowers added more happiness and smiles to our trip to the land of happiness.

Buddha Point – As we were driving around for our sightseeing, we could see the Buddha Statue from far off and my eagerness to visit this was increasing with each passing second. The construction for this statue began in 2006 and ended sometime in 2015. This is a magnificent site. The statues surrounding the Buddha are equally artful and creates a magical view. The shrine inside in one word is peaceful. This is definitely a must visit. As a bonus, it offers a grand view from the top of the hill.

Namgyal also took us to a view point from where the Tashichho Dzong, The King’s palace, the Royal Banquet hall all could be seen together. After satisfying ourselves with a number of nice clicks we moved on to our next destination.

Takin Preserve – Next we visited the Takin preserve. Takin is the national animal of Bhutan. As per legend the Takin was magically created by a saint. Entry fee here is 100 Nu / head.

Tashichho Dzong – This is accessible after 5 pm and entry fee is 300 Nu / person. We could come back again after lunch, but decided to visited from outside itself. We saw the royal palace again this time got a closer view, no I did not get a glimpse of the king or the queen.

After we reached hotel, they showed us to our new room, this time on the first floor. This room was one of the best rooms in our entire stay and way better than the room in the 3rd floor. Absolutely recommended.
We did not go outside for lunch and decided to order from the restaurant in our hotel. The food was simple yet good, I had never taster paneer butter masala which justified its name and had so much of butter in it, just yum.

We walked around the streets of Thimphu in the evening, and visited the gift shops. The shops were very pleasing to the eyes but not friendly to the pocket! My parents bought a Kira (Bhutanese dress for women) for me. It’s like a long skirt, similar to the wraparounds.

For dinner, we tasted Ema Datshi (Chilli and Cheese) and Kewa Datshi (Potato and Cheese). Being a cheese lover, I loved them both. In fact, I thought I would like the Kewa Datshi(yes, I like potato as well), more but I actually liked the Ema Datshi more, cheese and chilly created a heavenly flavor, and it was not that spicy, maybe the chillies they had used for tourists were the milder ones.
#15 Jul 2nd, 2017, 11:33
Try to be a Traveler....not a Tourist
Join Date:
Jul 2012
Location:
South Kolkata
Posts:
1,860
  • dcyouth is offline
#15
Nice Details. We need some snaps....&...costing part

Posting Rules

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
Forum Rules»
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Search Engine Optimization by vBSEO 3.3.2
© IndiaMike.com 2018
Page Load Success