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Old 26th October 2013, 23:27   #31
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Default Re: To the Land of the Thunder Dragon : Bhutan

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Originally Posted by wanderer4x4 View Post
Where did you encounter the snow? Chelela pass? (Sounds similar to Sela pass on the way to Tawang).
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Originally Posted by pyrodrive View Post
Where did you find the snow?
Yes the snow was encountered at Chelela. The days were pleasant and nights slightly chilly. But nothing of the bitter cold of the winters. I got to know that last time the winters were very severe.
Actually La means a pass so most of the Himalayan passes are Zozi La, Chang La, Khardung La, Tanlang La, Marsimik La, Shipki La to name a few known ones in the western parts while Nathua La, Se La, Cheley La, Dhochu La, Pele La, Yontong La are some of the familiar ones in the eastern parts.

Caught up with a very dear friend and his family at Thimpu later in the evening. Had a good time catching up with past memories. In Thimpu, Ambient Café on the norzing lam is the place to spend time. The owners stay upstairs and manage it in a very homely atmosphere. We visited it every single evening of our stay at Thimpu. Later went for a drive upto the Buddha Statue for a mesmerising night view of the city. Thimpu is indeed beautiful.

Next day was the time to visit the Takin Preserve, The Royal Textile Museum and the immigration office to extend the permit by another day till 20th October.

The day in Pictures: 2 Picture is of the Royal Palace or dzong 3. Thimpu Stadium which stays open till almost 2300 hrs with people playing football.
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Last edited by wanderernomad : 26th October 2013 at 23:30.
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Old 27th October 2013, 21:12   #32
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Originally Posted by wanderernomad View Post
Chelela: 1045 hrs: 76078 Kms. It is at a height of 3988 mtrs. A beautiful wind swept pass.
.....
Haa: 1205 hrs: 76102 kms.
Haa has a dzong presently occupied by the IMTRAT. The car park looked like an ordinary car park in a North Indian City rather than the interior of Bhutan. The picture will explain it. Availability of food is a dicey affair in Haa.
Normally Chele La/ Haa is off the normal tourist circuit, (at least that was the case when I visited Haa) and hardly ever visited. Great that you have done it. But there was talk of opening it up to tourists. Looks like that has not been done.

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Old 27th October 2013, 21:46   #33
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But there was talk of opening it up to tourists. Looks like that has not been done.

Regards
Sutripta
I did not encounter any restrictions either. Nor was there any check post to check our papers. But there is almost nothing to see there except the views of which there is no dearth in Bhutan. The entire circuit i.e from Confluence to Haa and back through Paro and Chelela is close to 130 odd kms meaning it takes you an entire day. Then the lack of any kind of tourist facility further keeps the normal tourist away. One of the reasons could be the IMTRAT training facility there that tourist are not encouraged.
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Old 27th October 2013, 22:04   #34
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Nor was there any check post to check our papers.
That is strange. The Indian army/ IMTRAT is sensitive about Haa, as it is the easiest point for a Chinese incursion.

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But there is almost nothing to see there except the views of which there is no dearth in Bhutan.
It is more like if you are going to do Chele La, Bhutans highest motorable road, you might as well continue on to Haa.

One strange oddity I faced: Though it was nowhere near the coldest or highest I've been to, that is where my vehicle almost refused to start in the morning!

If you go up the valley, there was a weekly market which used to have essentially Chinese stuff for locals (and army personnel). Do you know it that is still the case?

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Old 28th October 2013, 12:25   #35
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One strange oddity I faced: Though it was nowhere near the coldest or highest I've been to, that is where my vehicle almost refused to start in the morning!

That might be due to the geographical location of the valley. Its an almost closed narrow valley with serious issues regarding the availability of air in case of a packup in weather

If you go up the valley, there was a weekly market which used to have essentially Chinese stuff for locals (and army personnel). Do you know it that is still the case?

Yups still there, but just heard it as a side note. The details, I do not have since it was mentioned in passing only, so it did not register.

Regards
Sutripta
Day 8: 19\10\13:After getting the permit made the other day for Dhochula it was time to go there now. We had an early morning breakfast at the swiss bakery and then went to my friends house as his father was to accompany us to a local market for buying a Kira for my daughter. I also picked up a Patang(A Bhutanese dagger) for future camping use. A couple of my friends nieces decided to join us as the kids had become very friendly with each other during the last night visit to their house and the follow up Pizza dinner. The entry pas sis checked at the Hong Tso checkpost and on your return they keep the permit with them for good.
The day in pictures:
Attached Thumbnails
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To the Land of the Thunder Dragon : Bhutan-dsc08369.jpg  

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Old 28th October 2013, 12:47   #36
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Default Re: To the Land of the Thunder Dragon : Bhutan

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Originally Posted by Sutripta View Post
Normally Chele La/ Haa is off the normal tourist circuit, (at least that was the case when I visited Haa) and hardly ever visited. Great that you have done it. But there was talk of opening it up to tourists. Looks like that has not been done.
Quote:
Originally Posted by wanderernomad View Post
I did not encounter any restrictions either. Nor was there any check post to check our papers. But there is almost nothing to see there except the views of which there is no dearth in Bhutan. The entire circuit i.e from Confluence to Haa and back through Paro and Chelela is close to 130 odd kms meaning it takes you an entire day. Then the lack of any kind of tourist facility further keeps the normal tourist away. One of the reasons could be the IMTRAT training facility there that tourist are not encouraged.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sutripta View Post
That is strange. The Indian army/ IMTRAT is sensitive about Haa, as it is the easiest point for a Chinese incursion.
We went on a day trip to Haa from Paro during our recent holiday in Bhutan during the Pujas. There is a very nice guest house, Soednam-Zingkha which has opened up recently in Hatey, a few km further from Haa, where we had a delicious lunch. We faced no restrictions at all during the trip. The bonus was snowfall at Chele La Pass during the return trip.

It's true though that all the tourists we encountered on our journey to Haa, turned back from Chele La Pass.
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Old 28th October 2013, 17:59   #37
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Day 9: 20/10/13. The way back home.
This was supposed to be the most demanding day. We were going to attempt a run close to 875 kms from Thimpu to Jorhat. As all the best laid plans go, we could not leave at the designated 0600 H-Hour. However, we left at 0700 hrs, no mean feat when you are travelling with 03 girls, ok 2 of them were kids and we just plonked them into the car all wrapped in blankets for the journey back home.
Bebesa (Thimpu): 0700 hrs: 76342 kms.
Chuzom: 0730 hrs: 76363 kms.
Damchu: 0740 hrs: 76363 kms.
Watsa: 0745 hrs: 76375 kms.
Chapcha: 0800 hrs: 76386 kms.
Bunagu: 0830 hrs: 76400 kms.
Tsimasham: 0840 hrs: 76408 kms.
Chukkha: 0900 hrs: 76420 kms.
Wangkha: 0905 hrs: 76425 kms.
Dantak Canteen: 0915 hrs: 76433 kms. Breakfast stop for 45 odd minutes. Kids woke up here.
Gedu: 1020 hrs: 76456 kms.
Pheuntsholing: 1140 hrs: 76503 kms.
Hasimara: 1200 hrs: 76518 kms. The roads till assam border are a pleasure.
Borobisha: 1250 hrs: 76583 kms. The border area between Assam and Bengal.
Srirampur: 1300 hrs: 76594 kms. The roads became frustrating here onwards.
Gossaigaon: 1310 hrs: 76602 kms.
Serfanguri: 1345 hrs: 76631 kms.
Kajalguri: 1430 hrs: 76666 kms. We decided not to go into Bongaigaon but stick to NH.
Dhaligaon: 1440 hrs: 76672 kms.
Hapachara turn off right towards Goalpara: 1450 hrs: 76683 kms. We decided to proceed to Guwahati through Goalpara as driving on the NH31 was becoming more and more frustrating due to large broken patches. It was all the more tiring as well. But what did we know that it is going to cost us even more time. The roads were good and progress was excellent till we reached Guwahati.
Uttar Salmara: 1500 hrs: 76700 kms.
Jogihopa: 1515 hrs: 76715 kms.
Aagia: 1530 hrs: 76734 kms.
Krishnai: 1545 hrs: 76747 kms.
Dudhnoi: 1555 hrs: 76760 kms.
Ranjuli: 1605 hrs: 76777 kms.
Dhupdhara: 1615 hrs. 76789 kms.
Boko: 1625 hrs: 76809 kms.
Chayaygaon: 1645 hrs: 76826 hrs.
Mirza: 1700 hrs: 76843. From here the traffic snarls started and our hope of crossing Guwahati before the sunset went down in flames.
Guwahati Jhalukbari: 1750 hrs: 76862 kms.
Batistha Crossing: 1830 hrs: 76871 kms. stopped for a quick dinner and picked up snacks for the way as well, as it was yet another 330 odd kms to go. The kids who had fallen asleep were woken up for the meals.
Started again at 1915 hrs with a short fuel stop at Khanapara.
Jagiroad: 1950 hrs: 76924 kms.
Nagaon: 1850 hrs: 76995 kms. Here the road became a single carriageway again.
Jakghalbanda: 2130 hrs: 77032 kms. The road becomes bad from here till Bokakhat and especially at night be careful on this stretch as there are large potholes which appear all of a sudden from the shadows.
Bokakhat: 2240 hrs: 77104 kms.
Dergaon: 2310 hrs: 77147 kms.
Home: 2330 hrs: 77170 kms.
A total of 828 kms in about 16-1/2 hours with about 2 hours of stoppage time for food and loo breaks.
The last day In pictures:
Attached Thumbnails
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To the Land of the Thunder Dragon : Bhutan-dsc08399.jpg  

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To the Land of the Thunder Dragon : Bhutan-dsc08405.jpg  

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Old 28th October 2013, 21:42   #38
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Sir ,
Grt TL and photo log .
Regards
Sumit
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Old 29th October 2013, 17:09   #39
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Thanks for the Wonderful account !

Got back memories of living for 2 years in Bhutan as a Kid (Dad was posted with IMTRAT).

Was in Yongphulla for a few months (really remote place in east Bhutan - Tashigang District - you go up from Samdrup Jhonkar for around 11-12 hours)
Then around 1.5 years in Thimphu with a few months in Haa & Paro.
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Old 29th October 2013, 21:33   #40
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Hi,
You are lucky. From 23 Oct, there was a 100 hr Goalpara Bandh!

Regards
Sutripta
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Old 30th October 2013, 10:20   #41
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Hi,
You are lucky. From 23 Oct, there was a 100 hr Goalpara Bandh!

Regards
Sutripta
Yeah. In fact I was even more lucky, as there was a blockade of the NH37 on 20th itself, unknown to me near Uttar Salmara and Golpara and 2 vehicles were torched. However, the police opened the route around 1300 hrs and I hit Uttar Salmara around 1500hrs. Add to that there was a major Storm that hit Jorhat and Golaghat districts around 0900 hrs and the NH 37 was blocked a many places as huge tress came crshing down. Through Kaziranga the road was cleared only about 1830 hrs. So yes I think I was very lucky on that day.
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Old 31st October 2013, 21:03   #42
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^^^
Hi,
Strange the locals did not tell you to use NH31 till Howli (or Nalbari) and then carry on via Hajo. That is what I do if the South Bank route is blocked for any reason.

Normally I suggest tourists don't go off the main highways, but in this particular case it would have been preferable. In any case, Rakhaldubi to Barpeta Rd NH31 is excellent.

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Sutripta
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Old 31st October 2013, 21:31   #43
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Now if you have any queries do let me know. Meanwhile here is some trivia which will come in handy when you visit this enchanted land. Some basic Dzongkha:

Hello/Greetings: Kuzuzangpola.
Good Bye: Log Jay Gay.
Water: Chhu.
Hot Water: Chhu Tse.
Milk Tea: Na Ja.
How much is it: Dilu Gadem Chi mo?
Where does this road go?: Lam Di Ga Thay Jow Mo?
I'm Ill: Nga Nau May.
What is this? : Ani Ga Chi Mo?

For those who are planning to fly in: Druk Air Phone numbers.
1. Paro: +975 8 271856/57/271860: email: enquiry@drukair.com.bt.
2. Paro International Airport: +975 8 271423: email: parostation@drukair.com.bt.
3. Bagdogra: 0353 6502583: email: drukairbagdogra@drukair.com.bt.
4. Guwahati: 0361 6010836: email: gaukb@drukair.com.bt.
5. Kolkatta: 033 22902429/22805376: email: reservation@drukairccu.com
6. New Delhi: Airport: 011 49633616/18/19: email: delkkkb@drukair.com.bt.

Some Important festivals and tentative months in which held.
1. Punakha Drubchhen: Feb-Mar.
2. Bulli Mani (Chummi) Bumthang: Mar.
3.Takin Festival: Gasa: June.
4. Haa Summer Festival: July.
5. Crane Festival: Wangduephodrang: November.

Distance and Kms Chart>
Thimpu - Paro: 54 kms: 1 hr.
Thimpu - Pheuntsholing: 171 kms: 6 hrs.
Thimpu- Wandue Phodrang: 70 kms: 3 hrs.
Thimpu - Punakha: 71 kms: 3 hrs.
Wangdue Phodrang - Trongsa: 129 kms: 4 hrs.
Trongsa - Bumthang: 68 kms: 2 hrs.
Bumthang - Mongar: 193 kms: 7 hrs.
Mongar - Lhuntse: 75 kms: 3 hrs.
Mongar - Trashigang: 91 kms: 3 hrs 30 mins.
Trashigang - Chorten Kora: 51 kms: 2 hrs.
Trashigang - Samdrup Jongkar: 180 kms: 6 hrs.
All these are indicative obnly and would depend upon the road conditions, your driving skills and other factors which effect driving timings.

National Bird: Raven.
National Flower: Blue Poppy.
National Animal: Takin.
National Tree: Cyprus.
National Sport: Archery.
National Dress: Gho (Men), Kira, Tega and a belt Kera (Women)
National Emblem: Contained in a circle is composed of double diamond thunderbolts (Harmony) placed above a lotus (purity) surmounted by a jewel (sovereign power) and framed by two dragons. Drukyul or the Land of the Thunder Dragon.
National Flag: The upper yellow signifies secular authority of the king while the lower saffron signifies the religious practise and spiritual power of Buddhism. The dragon symbolises the name of the country.
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Old 1st November 2013, 11:45   #44
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Dear Wonderernomad,

thank you for all the info and excellent pictures. Please refer your post 16 in which you mentioned application for vehicle permit on a plain paper-is there a set format for the application-if all goes well should be driving there by the 13 Nov.

What is required to be written on the application, please.

Jude
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Old 2nd November 2013, 23:43   #45
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Dear Wonderernomad,

thank you for all the info and excellent pictures. Please refer your post 16 in which you mentioned application for vehicle permit on a plain paper-is there a set format for the application-if all goes well should be driving there by the 13 Nov.

What is required to be written on the application, please.

Jude
Nopes no set format. Just address it to the Officer In Charge, RSTA, Pshling. Mention your vehicle number and the places you want to visit along with the duration of your stay. That's it. Along with it just attach a copy of your RC, PUC, Insurance and the entry permit. You are done and ready to roll. If you want I shall PM you the contact details of the RSTA officer and in case you face any issue give him my reference and things should work out.
@ Sutripta: I was informed about the route but was warned off it due to the flying wingers on that route. I was told I am better off on roads where there is less of winger traffic.

Last edited by wanderernomad : 2nd November 2013 at 23:47.
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