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Old 27th March 2011, 01:20   #31
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Default Re: 4th Indo-Bhutan Friendship Car Rally - 2011

3rd Mar - Leg 2 - Samdrup Jhonkar - Mongar

Unlike 2010, when only the last leg was on the mountains, this year, from Leg 2 onwards, till the finish, the rally will pass through mountain roads, high passes and snow patches. More than 70% of the route will be above 10000ft. I, for some reason, have always felt very comfortable driving in the mountains and tarmac is my favourite surface. @NOS_Power would probably second the fact, the brilliant way we drove last year in the mountain stretches.

Coming back to 2011, we are a dismal 8th position as we start Leg 2. Our strategy for the day would be to push as hard as possible and gain as many positions. We reached Parc Ferme by 7am and the Extreme cars would be starting at 7:30am, local time (IST+30mins). Last night, the temp was a bit chilly, though not too cold. It was kind of comfortable. On reaching the ground, fired up the Devil and let it warm up. In the mean time, we collected our breakfast and soon it was time for the Extreme cars to start.

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As they were lining up at the start line, the surroundings were waking up under a warm sunshine. Some where, someone has lit a chulah for the morning meals. Its lush green all around.

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The Extreme cars lining up for start
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As soon as the last of the Extreme cars left, we got ready to start our challenge. The cars were lined up and we got down to business. As the countdown started and we blasted off from the start line, it was rally zone right from the beginning. This meant that while we will have to build up some advance timing, we must also we very careful about TCs. In the mountains, its dangerous to run with more than 1 min in advance. A TC can appear around any bend or hairpin, and if its an uphill, there are very high chances that you will end up frying your clutch, while trying to hit the TC at the right time.

We have covered not more than 5kms, when we saw car# 22 stranded alongside the road. Its a puncture (and later came to know that it was broken suspension as well). Good news for us, we are one position up. The road has become extremely rough but since the average speed has remained at 40kph, there's no question of slowing down. The Devil swerved and slided along corners as we made our way. We are doing good today so far. We have been able to hit TCs with good precision.

As the roads showed no signs of improvement, and with consistent high speeds of almost 70-80kph, the Devil was lifting off the road more often than not. Soon disaster struck. The rear right shocker gave way and made us a bit cautious. On one hand, we have to keep pushing hard and on the other, we have to finish the rally, with 2 more days to go and the present leg as well. It was a very tough choice to decide on the mode of driving. We kept pushing hard, but not as much on the very rough stretches. There were chances that we will fall behind, but thats probably better than being a DNF.

As a result, the going did not remain as good and in one of those rough stretches, where the rear of the Devil kept jumping like a frog, we reached a TC 90secs late. We could have pushed harder, but did not. This clearly showed in the days's penalty. As we proceeded, soon we came across a point where we were waved down.

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All previous cars are lined up in front, including the Extreme ones. We parked the Devil and came to know that we will given a restart. The next and last Competitive Stage for the Extreme cars are getting delayed as the route has not been sanitized yet.

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We had almost another 180kms to go before the Leg would come to an end and there was no estimate as to when we will be getting a restart.

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Came to know that the high altitudes have started to take its toll as well. One of the navigators have fallen ill and is undergoing medical attention and needs some rest. Some of the cars have also started developing overheating problems.

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So far, except for the suspension, the Devil has been doing very good.

Lets keep our fingers crossed.
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Old 27th March 2011, 20:10   #32
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Leg 2 - Continued

The wait did not show any signs of getting over and would probably extend for atleast 2hrs. We started roaming around, chit chatting with the fellow contestants.

While the break continued, here was one car that had been attracting a lot of attention, right from the point when it appeared for vehicle scrutiny. This is the only other gipsy that is participating this time and is being driven by Along Aier (Nav-Phillip Lam). He belongs to Nagaland and is participating in the Extreme category. Came to know that he is a regular in the Raid and Desert Storm and is one of the primary organizers of the Hornbill Rally, that is held each year in Nagaland. This gipsy is surely a head turner.

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As we chatted along, we were taking stock how the other cars had been doing so far. As mentioned earlier, the terrain and altitude have started taking its toll and some of the cars have started developing problems. A few of the older participants reported feeling sick and the team doctor provided some medication. Roaming around, we joined the group that had huddled around Mr. Hari Singh, where he was sharing his rally experiences. Experiences that you can only dream of going through.

Car #8 driven by Sourabh Chaudhuri (Nav - Sudip Halder). Its one of the fastest Esteem around.
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One of the participants took this opportunity for a power nap
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Sitting from L to R: Subhrangshu Hazra, Sk Ajgar Ali, Nirav Mehta, Pritul Dey, Joydeep Paul, Devdutta Mukherjee
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As the wait continued, keeping the rest of the distance till finish of the leg in mind, it seemed that we would be reaching Mongar after dark. While it did not pose much of a problem for us, quite a few cars this time, for some unknown reasons, are running without auxillary lights. To me, its a must have, when driving in the hills and high altitudes, as you can encounter foggy and low light conditions anytime. Moreover, under these uncertain circumstances, you can be held up at any point for a considerable period of time, and then driving in the dark with only the headlamps, can be dangerous.

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Anyways, after a lot of waiting, the news came in over the radio that we are about to restart, again ofcourse, with the Extreme cars. It was around 1:30pm, when it was our turn to start. The rest of the leg went on well and finally we reached Mongar around 6:30pm. Darkness has fallen and we reached the finish line of Leg 2 at the stadium ground.

Again the same formalities. Reported to the officials and got our allocated hotel. The temp was quite low, around 5-6deg C.

From what it appeared in the dark surroundings, Mongar seemed to be a small town. The hotel was right across the road, near the petrol pump. After getting fresh, we had our dinner and it was time for the results.

Today we believed to have driven better and so was expecting to move up the positions.

The results were out by 9:30pm and we could not believe it!! Where did things go wrong??

We are down by 2 positions, to the 10th position, for Leg2!!!!!!

Its a do or die situation for us now. We need to fight back with all our grit and determination, if we intend to finish in a respectable position. To make matters worse, Leg 3 promised to be the toughest, with high altitudes and passes, throughout the route.
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Old 28th March 2011, 17:21   #33
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Default Re: 4th Indo-Bhutan Friendship Car Rally - 2011

Quote:
Originally Posted by Saurabh M View Post
We are down by 2 positions, to the 10th position, for Leg2!
What happened? was it because you had the suspension problem?

More details awaited. and beautiful pics as always.

Regarding Sourabh's Esteem - what do you mean fastest? driven fast or special mods? who tuned his car?
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Old 30th March 2011, 16:34   #34
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We really did not understand what happened. Other cars did definitely better than us, with more precise control timings. We kept getting late at the controls and even though we were getting late by a few seconds, it still did matter. The suspension was one of the culprit for sure, as it prevented us from going all out.

As for Sourabh's Esteem, his car is prepared by Kari Sports. It rides like a dream and the pickup is mindblowing. Can leave a lot of "modded" Esteem bite the dust.
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Old 8th April 2011, 10:50   #35
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Watch Indo Bhutan Rally on NewsX channel

Saturday - 9th Apr - 15:30hrs
Sunday - 10th Apr - 11:30hrs (repeat telecast)

Watch out for car# 29
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Old 9th April 2011, 14:36   #36
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Default Re: 4th Indo-Bhutan Friendship Car Rally - 2011

Come on Saurabh M, What next? please update.
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Old 10th April 2011, 13:07   #37
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Extremely sorry for the long gap in updating this thread.

4th Mar - Leg 3 - Mongar - Trongsa

We woke up to a beautiful morning at Mongar. It was a bit overcast as we got ready and walked down to the Parc Ferme. It was chilly as well, with the temp hovering around 5deg C. Got to the car, started it and left it to warm up. In the meantime, breakfast was distributed and soon it was time for the Extreme cars to lineup.

Mongar seemed to be a beautiful, sleepy, quaint little town, nestled high up in the mountains. Its very sparsely populated similar to other remote areas of Bhutan. The road conditions around Mongar are surprisingly very good, seemed to be newly laid, absolutely smooth.

Here are some pics of the morning at Mongar, before the start.

Early morning at Mongar, view from the football stadium
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Sudip (Joydeb) Ghosh, my tuner and also a participant.
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Soumya Jati, standing against his car.
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Yours truly with the Dancing Devil
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From L-R: Pushpak Ghosh, Subhrangshu Hazra, Saurav Chatterjee, Sudip Ghosh, Chandan Sen
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Extreme lineup
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Leg 3 continued..
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Old 24th April 2011, 16:58   #38
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Sorry once again for the long gap in bringing to you the last 2 legs. Too much of work has been taking the better of me.

As mentioned in the previous posts, Leg 3 will be the toughest. Today, we will be covering high mountains passes, slush, snow and everything else that can make the proceedings dangerous. Also, today will be the most challenging day for us. We are now in the 10th position and need to fight back into the top positions.

The route for today also promised to be spectacular, passing through Bumthang and other most beautiful places in Bhutan.

For the Extreme category, it will be 3 stages to the end of the Leg at Trongsa.

It was 8:40am and it was time for us to start. The rally zone starts immediately from the flag off and soon we were greeted with extremely winding but beautifully surfaced roads. Just beyond the town limits, the average shot upto 45kph and soon we were blasting along the high mountain roads. Today we need to be absolutely precise in hitting the controls and not a single point is to be lost.

Within the next 4-5kms, we caught up with the previous car and blasted past it, while keeping a tab on our timings. Since the entire route is mountainous, there are every chances of finding a control on the uphill or downhill. In other words, every chances of getting the clutch fried.

We are hitting the controls with more precision today. At times, we have hit 12000 ft and the Devil, at times, had problems in pulling. We came across a few of our competitors having overheating problems with their cars and atleast one of them was in limp mode.

After having covered about 95kms, we came across a small village where we were flagged down to stop. There seemed to be some problems ahead. The Extreme cars have also stopped. On enquiry, it seemed that there has been some snowfall on the higher reaches and the road is being cleared. This meant that we will have to stop for quite some time now.

Got out of the car and got down to click some snaps.

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Smart looking police car
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School with children playing outside
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Small hotel and shop. Tea and maggi were available here
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Dark clouds hovering low
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Its a small village with around 10huts and a couple of shops. We had some tea and biscuits and by the time we were ready to start again, it was already 11:00am.

Dark clouds were hanging low and the surroundings had the prefect recipe for an interesting weather. On our way, we came across snow that has been shoved on the road sides and the surface is extremely slippery. We were passing through the highest point in the rally route, at 12400ft. The Dancing Devil was clearly losing power at some places.

We covered another 80kms in this fashion, until we were flagged down once more. Its a small lunch/loo break of about 15mins and will be followed by a restart. We are now in beautiful Bumthang. The area is as picturesque as it could be. With high mountains on both sides and a river flowing in between, it could have be paradise, except for the loud exhausts of the rally cars, that was shattering the tranquility.

After a quick grub, we started once again. It has started raining, its 2:00pm and we have almost another 70kms to cover. To make matters worse, we were flagged down once more, within 1km from the start. Another wait. This time, we came to know that heavy rain has made the track extremely slippery and the rally officials have halted us, for safety reasons. We also came to know here that one of the Gypsies (SK-02) has overturned and is now out of the rally.

Time was running out and so was the daylight. Some of the competitors appealed to the officials to cancel the rest of the leg due to safety reasons. After much deliberation and discussions, the officials agreed. It was decided that we will form a convoy and reach Trongsa.

By the time we started again, it was 4:00pm. It was getting dark pretty fast as proceeded in a convoy. Pretty soon, the rains came down heavily on us and this gave way to sleet and snow. The rains continued for about 20mins and then turned into a drizzle. However, to make matters worse, its now dark outside and at the same time, we are now engulfed in extremely dense fog. With all the lights on, visibility was reduced to note more than 10mts. This could have been disastrous had we not formed a convoy.

By the time we reached Trongsa, it was 7:30pm. Its raining heavily again. We somehow had our dinner and got into getting the car serviced. From what we could make out in the darkness, Trongsa is a small town, though seemed bigger than Mongar. However, accommodation options are very basic and we were alloted hotels. As if the adventure of the route was not enough, in order to reach your room, you will have to climb a ladder from the reception. The toilet is common and there is no question of hot water. It was almost freezing cold outside.

Under these circumstances, the results of the day was declared. We have completed the day with 226 penalty points and are in 3rd position from the day's total. Yes!!!! We have been able to make up a lot of lost ground, moved up 7 positions and are once again, into the reckonign for a podium finish.

However, we are 5th in position in the overall ranking and our strategy for the last leg will be to try to move up the positions and not make any mistakes to bring us down the points table. With a lot of excitement and hope, I pulled out my sleeping bag and retired for the day.

Tomorrow is the final fight.
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Old 1st May 2011, 22:12   #39
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5th Mar - Leg 3 - Trongsa - Thimpu

It rained very heavily last night. There were thunderstorms and lightning that continued till very late in the night. However, the rally continues and we are supposed to report by 6:30am. Woke up at 5. The water is extremely cold. Got fresh somehow, packed our bags and reached the parc ferme by 6:15am.

Amidst the heavy rains last night, we could not make out much of the surroundings. With day break, the beautiful surroundings were revealing themselves. The parc ferme is basically the parking lot of a huge Dzong.

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Here's a slice of history :
Trongsa Dzong was built in 1648 and has been the traditional home of all the kings of Bhutan prior to their ascending thrones and therefore is considered to be the ancestral home of the Royal Family. Trongsa Dzong is the largest dzong fortress in Bhutan, located in Trongsa (formerly Tongsa) in Trongsa district, in the centre of the country, built on a spur overlooking the gorge of the Mangde River. - Source : Wikipedia.

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We were fortunate enough to have been able to pass through the historic town of Trongsa. We were also offered a tour of the Dzong by the local authorities, but we were probably more concentrating on the proceedings of the day and were not able to honour the offer.

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Amidst the beautiful settings, we were flagged off for the fourth and final time. Today, the total distance to be covered is less, close to 160kms. The roads were in pretty good conditions and did not pose any threats to the car. As for us, the strategy was to avoid doing anything outrageous as we needed to maintain our position. If any of the other competitors commit any mistake, it will only help us in moving up the order.

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We did a very calculated drive and finally reached a very beautiful location - Wangdi Phodrang, Wangdi in short. It was around 12:30pm and we came to know that the rally is now officially over. Here we will have lunch and then proceed in a convoy to reach Thimpu.

The venue for the lunch was absolutely stunning. It was a Govt run tourist lodge, along the side of a very beautiful river, with orchards all around. Everyone was happy that the rally was over and there has not been any major untoward incidents.

What the results will be is definitely important, but having finished the rally successfully, going through all the hardships, its a feat nontheless.

We finally left Wangdi for Thimpu, which was roughly around 45kms away. On way to Thimpu, we crossed Dochu La (10233ft). Dochu La separates Thimpu from the low-lying lush Punakha valley. The place is marked by an array of prayer flags, but the most intriguing landmark of this place is the newly constructed 108 chortens. The Chortens were built in 2005 as an atonement for the loss of life caused by the flushing out of Assamese militants in southern Bhutan.

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This place offers a stunning view of the snow-capped Eastern Himalayas
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As we climbed to Dochu La, the Devil again started straining itself. However, we are not in rally mode anymore and took it easy. At Dochu La, we regrouped for a photo shoot. It was when someone pointed to me of a gurgling sound coming from the car. It was from the coolant that was literally boiling in the radiator.

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After the photoshoot, we left for Thimpu. Just at the outskirts, all the cars were stopped and arranged as per the competitor numbers. This resulted in a mini traffic jam of sorts, which I am sure, the people of Bhutan are not used to see. However, the traffic is extremely well mannered, with no honking, no moving out of the lane. Commendable indeed.

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As we rolled into Thimpu, it was around 3:00pm. We were welcomed by the representatives of the Royal Highness and Members of Parliament. A high tea was arranged. We took off to our hotels and allocated rooms, thus bringing an end to the gruelling 4 days of rallying.

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The results will be declared tomorrow, after the final tabulation is completed.

Last edited by Saurabh M : 1st May 2011 at 22:14.
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Old 14th May 2011, 20:19   #40
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6th Mar - Thimpu

For the first time in the last 7 days, woke up lazily at 8:00am. We do not have much activities planned for the morning, except that we have to go to an invitation. Its a custom that the next day the rally is over, the entire rally entourage, comprising of the paricipants, officials and the service crew, are invited for breakfast at the Indian High Commission in Thimpu.

The plan was to reach the Clock Tower by 9am and then leave for the High Commission office by 9:30am, in a convoy. Accordingly, we gathered at the Clock Tower by 8:30am. The morning sun was giving us some much needed warmth, as we huddled in small groups, discussing how each of us fared during the rally. Almost everyone was happy to have completed the rally without much drama and damages.

Joydip Paul (Extreme right) narrating his rescue after he crashed out on Leg 4
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We checked out our cars and instructed the service teams to do a thorough checkup during the day, to ensure the cars are fit to take on the return journey to Kolkata, another 1200kms away.

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Its a normal working day at Thimpu and the city was gradually coming to life. People boarding buses and going to work, school children making their way to school, neatly dressed.

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At the High Commission, we had a very nice breakfast and returned back to the Clock Tower.

The gathering at the High Commission grounds amidst beautiful surroundings
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The team doctor giving a lesson or two in teeing off
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The rest of the day was free for us. We checked out some of the shops and the city surroundings.

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The city bus stand
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The central ground was holding an archery competition, the national sports of Bhutan
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The results will be declared at 3:00pm...
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Old 15th May 2011, 21:04   #41
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We gathered at the rally head quarters by 3pm, with bated breath for the final results to be out. It was 10 past 3, when the final results were put up. As we scrambled to look at the rankings and the final tabulations, there we were, ranked 5th in the overall standings, thus, ensuring a podium finish.

We have completed leg 4 with just 49 penalty points, making a total of 1809 penalty points over the last 4 days. It was indeed a nice achievement for me, my first podium finish, in my rally career that started 1 year back.

Certainly a big day for me, but, a huge thanks to my navigator, Sourav Chatterjee, a rally veteran, for fighting it out with me, amidst numerous challenges. A big thanks goes to Sudip (Joydeb) Ghosh, who runs Calcutta Motors, the pit stop for all rally enthusiasts at Kolkata. It was for his encouragement and support that I could participate and complete this rally, on a winning note.

The prize distribution ceremony started at 4pm. Here are some pics.

The red carpet laid out for the dignitaries, on a rather windy and chilling evening
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A cultural program to start the show
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Mr. Vicky Chandok, President, FMSCI, addressing the gathering
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The prize distribution started with the Extreme category, followed by the Adventure category.

Extreme category: 1st Position - Pritul De and Nirav Mehta
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Extreme category: 3rd Position - Saptarsi Saha and Indrajit
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Adventure Category: 1st Position - Sudip Ghosh and Soumen Mondal
4th Indo-Bhutan Friendship Car Rally - 2011-picture-186-large.jpg

Sudip Ghosh and Soumen Mondal with the Debashis Ghosh Memorial Trophy
4th Indo-Bhutan Friendship Car Rally - 2011-picture-189-large.jpg

Adventure Category: 2nd Position - Soumya Jati and Chandan Sen
4th Indo-Bhutan Friendship Car Rally - 2011-picture-176-large.jpg

Adventure Category: 5th Position - Saurabh Mitra (yours truly) and Sourav Chatterjee
4th Indo-Bhutan Friendship Car Rally - 2011-picture-166-large.jpg

4th Indo-Bhutan Friendship Car Rally - 2011-picture-170-large.jpg

4th Indo-Bhutan Friendship Car Rally - 2011-picture-171-large.jpg

Team Calcutta Motors : With a total of 11 trophies won, along with the service team
4th Indo-Bhutan Friendship Car Rally - 2011-picture-191-large.jpg

Me and my navigator with the Dancing Devil (Excuse the poor quality due to bad light)
4th Indo-Bhutan Friendship Car Rally - 2011-picture-198-large.jpg

One last pic (Excuse the poor quality due to bad light)
4th Indo-Bhutan Friendship Car Rally - 2011-picture-193-large.jpg

We partied till late in the night and then retired to bed in the wee hours of the morning, only to get up a couple of hours later. Next day, we left Thimpu on our way to Kolkata. The return journey was uneventful and fast. We left Thimpu by 8am and travelled via Phuntsholing, Jaipaiguri and finally reached Malda by almost 8pm. The next day, it was a relatively short drive to Kolkata. Reached home at 5pm.

With this, we come to the end of the rally-logue. Thank you for going throught it and hope you have liked it.
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Old 17th May 2011, 20:09   #42
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Ah, finally we get to see the finish line.
In some photograph's participants are seen smoking which i thought was banned in Bhutan.
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Old 18th May 2011, 09:09   #43
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Quote:
Originally Posted by San Phrangmung View Post
In some photograph's participants are seen smoking which i thought was banned in Bhutan.
Yes you are right. Smoking is banned in Bhutan. However, the authorities does tend to turn a blind eye to the participants and delegates as a goodwill gesture.

Personally, I feel that smoking should be avoided, atleast in public places, to respect the law of the land and the sentiments of the local population.
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Old 26th April 2012, 23:02   #44
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The recent news about Bhutan is that, the acute shortage of Indian Currency. In the past either a Bhutanese or an Indian can change the Indian Currency or Bhutan Ngultrum vice versa with out any complications at par. But since March 2012 the RMA of Bhutan (Royal Monetary Authority) has restricted the free flow of Indian currency to Bhutanese. They were shopping with Bhutanese currencies in the border towns. But now a days the Indian Border town traders are demanding INR only from Bhutanese customers. The business in the Indian side is going down side and the Bhutan side is going upwards. The illegal transactions are restricted. Both the countries, tax revenues are growing due to the legal business with proper bill and DD payments.
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