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Old 9th January 2013, 15:51   #16
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Default Re: The Last Shangri-La…at the last minute - Bhutan!

(continued...)

KB left us near our hotel but we decided to walk around the city. Weather was chilly and temperature was definitely lower than Thimphu. Markets were expensive but thankfully we got a departmental store with reasonable prices from where we bought souvenirs for friends & relatives. We enjoyed the evening walk & a small open air live singing & dance performance by a small group of young people at the city center but the mercury was dipping at an alarming rate and we were on the verge of freezing, so we decided to have dinner early @ 1900 hrs and go back to hotel room.

We dined in the evening at a fine restaurant, pardon me for forgetting the name but it was located on the first floor of a building towards the end of the small market. The ambience was beautiful & staff courteous. The young manager asked us how we like his country and even gave me a lonely planet’s guide to Bhutan for reading until he serves our order. Perfect ambassador of his country! He was amazed when he came to know that we are a bunch of only 2 travelers! I told him that the great repute of being a safe destination have encouraged our tour which made him happy.

Service took a while, but in the meantime I enjoyed reading the book. It is amazing when you are reading about the same place where you are actually present. Food was good & we paid about Nu. 400/- for the dinner. I returned the book and thanked him for the nice reading & good food and walked away after the ‘last supper’ that we had in Bhutan. We had pastries while returning to the hotel room from a small bakery shop.

We literally got frozen that night in Paro even in our room & woke up to the morning that would be our last in Bhutan.
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Old 9th January 2013, 17:40   #17
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The Last Shangri-La…at the last minute - Bhutan!-museum_damaged.jpg

This National Museum of Paro was damaged in the Earthquake of 2011. Note the ongoing repairs on the uppermost left area which is still to be painted.

The Last Shangri-La…at the last minute - Bhutan!-druk-air.jpg

A Druk Air flight unloading passengers after its haul.

The Last Shangri-La…at the last minute - Bhutan!-sign-board.jpg

Distance Marker at Paro Town.

The Last Shangri-La…at the last minute - Bhutan!-vista.jpg

Beautiful Vistas never leave you alone in Bhutan. This one is sighted on the Highway. Notice the minuscule looking waterfall flowing through the rocks.
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Old 10th January 2013, 10:37   #18
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Default Re: The Last Shangri-La…at the last minute - Bhutan!

& Now the final post of the travelogue.

Day 6: 28th December 2012.: The Last Day of Journey.

The final morning greeted us with extreme cold but was bright as usual. KB would come by 1000-1030 hrs & we had about 2 hours to spare which we decided to avail for a last walk in Bhutan. Frankly speaking, I did not really want to go back to India. This wonderful country had stole my heart for the second time…ah you know when it was for the first time! I loved & enjoyed the peace, calm & serenity of this wonderful place, not to mention the beautiful vistas. We clicked some of our last photographs in Bhutan on the river side and then KB came right at 1015hrs.

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KB with his Shining Wagon-R!

We loaded our luggage in the car & bid our final adieu to Paro. We left exactly at 1040 hrs and started for Jaigaon. Little worried deep down again I was thinking about the travel sickness I suffered during my last travel on this swirling route, but this time, I enjoyed the 5 hour drive with just one stop for a stomach full lunch at Hotel Dam view again.

I completed my quest of having the delicious mutton-rice served in the hotel, which I had missed while coming 4 days ago. I engaged myself clicking beautiful photographs of the valleys of Bhutan during the entire route and finally we reached Rinchending at about 1530 hrs, the last immigration check post where we surrendered our permits. Phuentsholing was now only 5-6 kms away and we were unwinding the same roads downhill which we climbed 4 days back. The buildings & houses in Jaigaon were increasing in size with every turn & bend. The rivers in India looked long, pristine & marvelous from this height. My cell phone flashed once and showed faint bars against the network icon. We soon reached Phuentsholing border. I looked back from the rear windshield of the car with a heavy heart as if I was missing something, smiled and secretly wished to come back again to this heavenly place… Our Bhutan travel ended with the words ‘Bye Bye Bhutan’.

As we crossed the border to Jaigaon, the same old dust, dirt, noise & tantrums greeted us… offering rooms to Chinese cell phones & what not! I asked myself to adjust to same old conditions as we were back in India and thought for a second that are we really more developed than Bhutan? Have we traded-off a bit too much for developing? A question to which we had no answer. I switched back my watch to GMT+ 5.5 to mate with IST. It was quarter to four in the evening.

We decided to stay at Jaigaon for the night & move to Silliguri the next day by train from where I would board our train to Patna & then to Ranchi, the day after. I thanked KB for all his gestures during the tour and of course, driving us safe and asked him to join us for dinner in the evening, in case he does not return to Thimphu with some other travelers. He smiled at our gesture; however the plan did not materialize. Probably some other souls ought to see what we just witnessed: The Last Shangri-La.

We left Jaigaon next morning & reached Silliguri by train. We spent the next day shopping & roaming around in Silliguri. Fell prey to the usual hotel rip-offs, unfortunately in our own country; accepted this as a part & parcel of our own corrupted & money minded culture…I felt sorry writing these words for my own country but as they say “He who conceals his sins does not prosper”, hoping India is not the ‘he’ here.

Finally boarded our Patna bound train from NJP, 7-8 kms from Silliguri on the new-year’s eve. We reached Patna next morning at 0430 hrs & took a Jan-Shatabdi Express to Ranchi which made sure that we were at home in the late afternoon. We relaxed in the comforts of home but beautiful thoughts of the beautiful country kept lingering in our minds and probably will continue, till we are here!


Saket.
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Old 10th January 2013, 23:30   #19
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Default Re: The Last Shangri-La…at the last minute - Bhutan!

One of the shortest, yet interesting log. Am sure you enjoyed the relaxed life style in Bhutan.

BTW one question, Can we drive down to bhutan in our own vehicle, Any special permit that, we need to take for the same ?
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Old 11th January 2013, 10:06   #20
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Default Re: The Last Shangri-La…at the last minute - Bhutan!

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Originally Posted by sameerg001 View Post
One of the shortest, yet interesting log. Am sure you enjoyed the relaxed life style in Bhutan.

BTW one question, Can we drive down to bhutan in our own vehicle, Any special permit that, we need to take for the same ?
Shortest?

Yup, we enjoyed the laid back lifestyle in Bhutan and that was so relaxing.

Regarding driving your own vehicle, yes, it is very much possible. There is a special permit made for vehicles at the cost of a nominal amount. Not sure about the exact sum, but its nominal. The permit for vehicles may be obtained from the same immigration office. You need to carry all original documents of your vehicle and your licence for the process to be hassle free. Just check with your insurance company if they provide the cover in Bhutan (being outside India). At some nominal charges, I believe most insurance companies provide a cover in Bhutan too.

The two mantras of driving in Bhutan, 1. Start early, 2. Stay disciplined & patient...and you should be fine! Good luck!

Regards!
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Old 11th January 2013, 10:34   #21
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Default Re: The Last Shangri-La…at the last minute - Bhutan!

Great Travelogue there Saket!! Bhutan is very high on my to do list!

Not sure if anyone noticed in the pictures its our own BRO who builds and Maintains almost all roads in Bhutan.
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Old 11th January 2013, 11:00   #22
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Not sure if anyone noticed in the pictures its our own BRO who builds and Maintains almost all roads in Bhutan.
You are spot on Vinay! Its our own Border Roads Organization (BRO) which maintains the highways & main-roads of Bhutan under the 'Project Dantak'. I inquired this from KB only. He said, almost all, except those under city municipal limits roads are maintained by BRO, India. Road infrastructure is surprisingly good in Bhutan.

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Great Travelogue there Saket!! Bhutan is very high on my to do list!
Thanks Vinay! If you like natural beauty, Bhutan should be a must do for Indians at least. Its not that expensive for Indians as other nationals, easily accessible to Indians due to land border sharing and over all, very safe and can easily be done with just your family. You need not move along a big group!

Good Luck!
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Old 11th January 2013, 13:06   #23
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Default Re: The Last Shangri-La…at the last minute - Bhutan!

very nice narration and pictures Saket. What is the best time to visit Bhutan. From your travelogue I understand that Bhutan gets very cold in Dec/Jan. Might be difficult to go with kids during this time.
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Old 11th January 2013, 13:19   #24
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very nice narration and pictures Saket. What is the best time to visit Bhutan. From your travelogue I understand that Bhutan gets very cold in Dec/Jan. Might be difficult to go with kids during this time.
Thanks a lot daisyb. Undoubtedly the place is almost freezing during dec/jan. Its bearable during the daytime but nights are really really chilly. However the plus of visiting in this season is that you can witness a snowfall in January.

But most travelers would like to visit during April/May season when the vegetation is high and all surroundings & mountains turn green. Temperature would be in comfortable range. Given an opportunity, I would like to visit the place again.

If you like peace & a serene environment, you will literally crave to visit the place again! (like me )
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Old 11th January 2013, 13:53   #25
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Default Re: The Last Shangri-La…at the last minute - Bhutan!

Good place that Bhutan is! Been there about 12 yrs ago.

Not only the roads, but majority of the infrastructure in Bhutan is done either by Indian government agencies or India government grant. I was at Bhutan when my cousin was working on the severage system, backed by Govt of India.

Is this travelogue complete Saket? You mentioned that you'd post the expenditure and the 'dent' to your bank account at the end . While you've mentioned costs at places, it would be good to have a compiled list at one place.
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Old 11th January 2013, 16:38   #26
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Hello Nonstopdriver!

India has played a complete role in development of Bhutan's infrastructure. All hydro electric projects have been erected by India. The current one is being developed at Punakha. Chukha power project & Tala Hydro power projects are the major power projects funded entirely by India..well almost. The funny thing is that these power projects export electricity back to many Indian states

Yes, the travelogue is now complete. I hope I have not left anything...of course, I missed the total expenditure part.

The entire cost, 'from door- to- back to my door' was about 30K & includes everything. Rail fares, hotel stays, fooding expenses, local travelling in India , taxi, some shopping, 2 day stay in siliguri, etc. So, one can cut this cost to a lower figure opting for a shared taxi from P/Sholing to Thimphu & back (mainly). However, fruitful for a family of less than 4. We could have easily cut down hotel costs at siliguri if we had planned for max one day stay. Somehow our stay in siliguri lasted for 2 days for no reason!

Hope that helps!

Regards.
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Old 11th January 2013, 17:59   #27
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Default Re: The Last Shangri-La…at the last minute - Bhutan!

Great narration Saket , you bring up fresh memories , I was there with my family in Oct driving my own vehicle and fell in love with Bhutan. Hope to be back there again sometime in the future.

Referring to the question from daisyb , the seasons are March / April (before Monsoon) and Sep to Late Oct/Early Nov.
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Old 11th January 2013, 18:16   #28
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Great narration Saket , you bring up fresh memories , I was there with my family in Oct driving my own vehicle and fell in love with Bhutan. Hope to be back there again sometime in the future.

Referring to the question from daisyb , the seasons are March / April (before Monsoon) and Sep to Late Oct/Early Nov.
Thanks DriveTrain. I will take that as a compliment - Reviving your old memories! Other parts of Bhutan would be even more unexplored. I would myself love to see them.
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Old 16th October 2013, 14:47   #29
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Default Re: The Last Shangri-La…at the last minute - Bhutan!

Just amazing! Saket77, would you know the best way to go to Bhutan, in case we are not driving? I am wondering if there is any information available about tour guides, who should I go with etc?
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Old 16th October 2013, 15:12   #30
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Default Re: The Last Shangri-La…at the last minute - Bhutan!

Ah! your travelogue has come at the right time and quite detailed for that matter. Why I say the right time is because there are talks among our group of doing a round of Bhutan sometime next year. Can you include the maps of what you covered.
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