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Old 16th October 2017, 14:39   #1
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Default Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon

Kuzuzangpo La !! The thirst to travel in a nomadic soul is difficult to satiate. Wherever you go, it somehow becomes a part of you in some way or the other. That is why it is important to travel and see the world. For me it was important to spend some quality time with my family and the quest for spending such quality time with them is taken care of on such trips. Yes, the company of a trusted steed is always important and the Figo always has been the more trusted and closer to the heart bet.

It was almost a year that I had hit the highway for a Road Trip or taken a day off from work or had had a vacation to myself. A road trip was calling me and I did not know when, how and where ? The answers came through at the onset of the Durga Puja vacations but the destination was not being finalized as there was unrest in Darjeeling and that we had done West Sikkim last year. Though there were other places in the North East which were pending to be done in our To Do List, but with little children we did not want to exert ourselves much and wanted to have a relaxing getaway.

The foreign soil started calling. The nearest and the dearest neighbouring Kingdom of Bhutan was a wise option. However, we were not prepared to queue up at the Phuntsholing border for getting our Human Permits to enter Bhutan as it would have been difficult to manage the Kids all by ourselves and do the necessary paper work there. We tried our luck by visiting the Bhutan Consulate in order to get our permits done from Kolkata. We knew we were too late for that too. However, we chanced our luck. On the first visit, we were rejected outright as they told us that they had stopped issuing permits from Kolkata. However, after a lot of persuasion, we were called again after a couple of days. A short Intro with the Consulate General helped the situation. His understanding of the fact that we will be driving from Kolkata with very young kids, he allowed us to apply for the permits and got it issued in a matter of 5 days or so as a special case. We were delighted !!

A copy of the Bhutan Entry Permit Application Form :
Bhutan Entry Permit Application Form from Bhutan Consulate.pdf

Another mishap happened when my wife Eshita was hit by Viral Fever just before the trip and we felt that we will have to call the plan off. Against all odds, she recovered very speedily and was fit to travel just a day before the trip was supposed to commence. I guess it was completely her will power and the thirst for a vacation which made this happen.

"A ship in the harbour is safe, but that is not where it is supposed to be." A teaser pic of the Figo with reference to the quote which was raring to hit the highway and the hills after a long time :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img20171013wa0031.jpg

The Land of Gross National Happiness has lots to offer and our initial plan was to go up to Trongsa. However, as per information in Kolkata from the Consulate, from the RSTA Phuntsholing and from the locals of the Hotels in Bhutan it was told to us that it was not a good idea as it would get very difficult for the Figo since the road widening work from Trongsa to Bumthang was underway and that the road was currently motorable by 4WDs only as it was in a very bad condition. We anyways did not alter our plan and thought of changing the plan as the need would arise. We were lucky to get all reservations done in Bhutan at the last minute as there was a scarcity of Hotels in Bhutan thanks to it being peak season time for them.

The Plan (as it was executed) :
DAY 1 : Kolkata to Gorumara
DAY 2 : Gorumara to Phuntsholing
DAY 3 : Phuntsholing to Thimphu
DAY 4 : Thimphu
DAY 5 : Thimphu to Wangdue
DAY 6 : Wangdue to Punakha to Gangtey
DAY 7 : Gangtey to Phobjikha Valley to Paro
DAY 8 : Paro to Haa Valley and back to Paro
DAY 9 : Paro to Siliguri
DAY 10 : Siliguri (As I had some work in Siliguri)
DAY 11 : Siliguri to Kolkata

So now my dream to drive my car on Foreign Soil was about to materialize and I was excited about it. The packing was underway and the kids were excited; so were we.

The Tool Kit and Car Essentials that would go in 1 Small Bag :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6347.jpg

My 1.5 Year Old Son Mivann at his wits while we packed :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6348.jpg


DAY 1 : 24/09/2017 : Kolkata to Gorumara : 636Kms

It was on the 24th of September 2017, Sunday that we finally set sail for Gorumara. All I can say is that this was one of my worst drives to this region in all these years of driving where nothing was right. The roads & the traffic played a spoilt sport all throughout. The road condition from Kolkata to Gorumara is elaborated in the relevant thread of the Forum as per the Link : http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/route-...ml#post4288449 (Kolkata - Siliguri route via Dumka, Bhagalpur. Avoiding NH34)

Daughter Ishanvi @ Shaktigarh :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img20171013wa0111.jpg

A picture enroute :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6363.jpg

We reached our Hotel at Gorumara at around 10:00pm after a 636Kms of driving. We had placed the order for our dinner with the Hotel while we were on our way and it was served hot as soon as we arrived at the property which was very welcoming.

Night stay at : The Reserve @ Gorumara
My Review of the property : https://www.tripadvisor.in/ShowUserR...st_Bengal.html

Last edited by AJ-got-BHP : 23rd October 2017 at 12:59. Reason: Changes
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Old 22nd October 2017, 16:25   #2
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DAY 2 : 25/09/2017 : Gorumara Jungle Safari followed by drive to Phuntsholing

We woke up early in the morning at around 05:00am and reached the Ticket Counter to book our Jungle Safari and the Jeep for the same. We reached the designated place at sharp 06:00am and paid Rs.1,500/= for the Entry and the Jeep for the 4 of us to drive through the Gorumara National Park. To our misfortune, the parks in the region had just about opened and was extremely water logged. Thus,no scope of any animal sighting. But, the drive through the forest was good and adventurous with slush and water crossings.

Sharing some snaps of the Jungle Safari :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6384.jpg

Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6396.jpg

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There was no way the Gypsy could cross that :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6424.jpg

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The road back to the resort :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6436.jpg

It is very unfortunate that the Forest officials did not let us know that the Safari to the Watch Tower starts from a different place altogether or else we would have taken that Safari Route in order to chance our luck of sighting the Rhino. This was a let down by the officials and I guess this is the reason why the Forests here in West Bengal does not attract many tourists from outside the state.

The restaurant at The Reserve Gorumara where we had our breakfast :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6437.jpg

Some clicks of the property before we set sail for Phuntsholing :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6439.jpg

Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6440.jpg

A customary picture of the Figo before the Tea Gardens :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6443.jpg

Forest On Duty :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6447.jpg

The 'Kaash FLower' season :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6449.jpg

The roads at Jaigaon :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6450.jpg

We started from our Hotel at around 12:15pm towards Phuntsholing via Chalsa & Jaigaon. We covered a distance of 115 Kms and neared the Indo-Bhutan Border by 02:45pm with a short stop in between. On reaching the Border we found this confusing Board and enquired with the locals on which road to take. Since we already had the permits with us, we were advised to take GATE # 2 instead of the conventional GATE # 1 where people usually queue up to obtain their permits. This road had free flowing traffic into Bhutan and there was no check while crossing the border at all.

The Board :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6453.jpg

The first glimpse of the Prayer Wheel in Bhutan :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6458.jpg

We reached our Hotel which was very close to the border gate and also in very close proximity to the RSTA Office at Phuntsholing. The luggage was off loaded and I asked my family to Check In at the Hotel as I headed straight to the RSTA Office to obtain the Permit for the Vehicle for our onwards journey upto Thimphu.

The RSTA Building at Phuntsholing :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6460.jpg

Once, in the RSTA building, I immediately took the Permit Application Form and filled it. I was then advised to go to the Cash Counter and pay the relevant fees for the same and to my bad luck, it had closed. The RSTA is opened till 05:00pm, however the Cash Counter closes at 03:00pm as they need time for their internal work. This was very unfortunate. It meant I would have to come at 10:00am in the morning of the following day and queue up for my Vehicle Permit. However, I was hell bent on obtaining the vehicle permits on the same day.

Coincidentally, I bumped into BHPian Starter from Bangalore who had driven down from Bangalore to Bhutan with his wife and kiddo too. It was pleasure meeting him and we teamed up and went to meet the head of the department there and put forth our request. He was a gem of a person and hinted us on how to request whom and get the job done. We went down and requested the concerned authority who went through our papers and approved our request and instructed us to pay the relevant Fees of Rs.700/= for 1 Car and come back to himso that he can issue the permit.

The cashier simply followed the orders and the Permits were issued in No Time at all. It was such a relief for the both of us as it negated the hassles on the following day. From here, I moved back to my Hotel relaxed for while. We decided to go to the KIZOM Cafe Pizzeria & Bakery for Dinner with the Kids and left the Figo parked and strolled through the streets of Phuntsholling for an early dinner.

Some pictures of the KIZOM Cafe :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6462.jpg

Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6464.jpg

Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6465.jpg

Our Hotel :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6473.jpg

The markets in Phuntsholling close latest by 08:00pm and thus we retired to our Hotel after our dinner.

Night Stay @ Park Hotel Bhutan, Phuntsholing
My Review of the Property : https://www.tripadvisor.in/ShowUserR..._District.html

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Old 22nd October 2017, 16:30   #3
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DAY 3 : 26/09/2017 : Phuntsholing to Thimphu


We woke up late and had our breakfast at the Hotel and again headed to the Market to procure a TashiCell SIM Card for our travel and stay in Bhutan. We just had to furnish a copy of our Permit and it was done. We paid Rs.1,000/= for it which included the SIm, activation, 4GB Data and Rs.500/= of TalkTime where Call Charges were @ Rs.4/ Minute to India.

The Park Restaurant at our Hotel which is supposedly a hot favourite too :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6479.jpg

We started our drive to Thimphu and it was just beautiful as we kept on climbing the hills. There are 3 Check Posts to Thimphu. The 1st and the 3rd are operational. The first Check Post is around 5Kms from Phuntsholing. After getting our permits stamped at the 1st check post we headed towards Gedu which is known for having perpetual dense Fog.

The weather was clear and we moved ahead enjoying the natural pristine beauty of Bhutan which was lush green due to some showers overnight.

The prayer flags fluttering :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6491.jpg

We could see the Fog at a distance - Zoomed Image :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6492.jpg

We stopped by at the touristy Lhamu Restaurant at Gedu :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6499.jpg

Some pics of Gedu Town :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6501.jpg

Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6502.jpg

Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6503.jpg

There was slight fog upto Gedu, however the moment we crossed Gedu the tables had turned and all we could see was Fog, Fog and More Fog. Sharing a Picture of the Visibility :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p_20170926_123124.jpg

Finally we headed 25Kms from Gedu and reached the Indian Army Canteen for some 'Desi Food' to full our stomachs for Lunch :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6510.jpg

A Happy Family :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6517.jpg

The 3rd Checkpost is around 41 Kms from this point where the road divides to Paro on the Left and Thimphu to the Right respectively. We got our permits stamped again and headed towards Thimphu which was another 54 Kms from this point from where the roads were pretty wide and seemed newly made.

Some pictures enroute Thimphu :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6525.jpg

Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6526.jpg

Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6555.jpg

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Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6613.jpg

The Entrance to Thimphu City :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6614.jpg

Pleased to see a Ford Service Centre in Thimphu :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6620.jpg

Finally reached our Hotel - Hotel Kisa at Thimphu :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6638.jpg

The Lobby :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6642.jpg

The Room :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6644.jpg

We left the Figo behind and headed to the Clock Tower Square at Thimphu which was just a minutes stroll up from our Hotel. There was a cultural program happening there and we too became spectators. A picture :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6656.jpg

The Clock Tower Square Pictures :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6667.jpg

Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6680.jpg

We had read about this small cozy Cafe name The Ambient Cafe and decided to go there for Dinner. It was difficult to find the Cafe as it was tucked away on the 1st Floor of a market complex, but the visit was completely worth it.

Some pictures of the Ambient Cafe :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6684.jpg

Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6691.jpg

Reached back to the Hotel to find that the Figo was gracefully resting :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6693.jpg

Night Stay at : Kisa Hotel at Thimphu
My Review of the Property : https://www.tripadvisor.in/ShowUserR..._District.html

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Old 22nd October 2017, 16:35   #4
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DAY 4 : 27/09/2017 : Thimphu

The view from our room in the morning :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p_20170927_074046_1.jpg
Notice the Football Stadium on the Left which hosts matches almost everyday.

We woke up at leisure and treated ourselves to breakfast at the Hotel and headed straight to the Immigration Office at Thimphu to extend our Permits for Punakha, Phoibjikha, Gangtey & Haa Valley. The process was very smooth and we had to submit a copy of our permits with the duly filled in Application Form (identical with some difference). After submitting the documents, they asked us to come back after an hour and collect the permits.

We had some time in hand to spend and thus strolled in the nearby market place and handicraft shops and did some petty shopping. We went back to the Immigration Office for our Permits. Somehow they could not locate it and we had to wait for sometime until they got the new permits issued.

The Immigration Office is diagonally opposite this building :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6695.jpg

Mommy with the Kiddos :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6704.jpg

The Handicrafts Market overlooks the Immigration Office :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6705.jpg

Immediately after we got our permits we rushed to the RSTA Thimphu to get the extension of the Car Permits to Punakha, Phobjikha, Gangtey and Haa Valley. It was just a stamp and a go thing and did not take much time. We now headed for the touristy sight seeing places in Thimphu.

The Thimphu Post Office :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6708.jpg

A BPCL Pump where Diesel is cheaper in Bhutan than in India ('Kya din kahein ya Achhe Din") :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6711.jpg

Thimphu Chorten :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6713.jpg

We then moved to the Royal Takin Preserve at Motithang to see the rare species named Takins. The drive to this place was excellent, scenic and beautiful indeed. As we entered the Preserve, we saw this puppy and I could not resist to click :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6719.jpg

The sighting of Takins :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6730.jpg

Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6733.jpg

The Trail walk around the Preserve :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6739.jpg

As we were leaving the premises, I could not take my eyes off this Toyota Pick Up :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6740.jpg

We then moved to Khawajangsa in Thimphu which is tucked away in one corner of Thimphu and houses the best looking ancient 19th Century Buildings. The approach road had literally nothing in it to offer apart from adventure for travelers like us. It was a downhill road which was very slushy and broken at places. A picture of the last bit of the road which was still better :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6746.jpg

We paid a visit to the Folk Heritage Museum & Restaurant which is one of the finest places to experience the Heritage of Bhutan with a taste of Authentic Bhutanese Cuisine in their ancient styled restaurant. The Figo parked at the entrance of the place alongside a Local Bhutanese Figo :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6780.jpg

The Handicrafts Bazaar within the premises :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6748.jpg

The sumptuous Bhutanese Food served on Per Person Per Meal Basis :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6757.jpg

The outdoor earthed seating :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6758.jpg

Me with the kids in the garden of the premises :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6763.jpg

The way to the museum where photography is prohibited :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6774.jpg

A 19th Century Household :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6776.jpg

The view from the gates of Folk Heritage :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6779.jpg

From here we moved onto the Centenary Farmers Market which had lots of Dried Chillies to offer :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6785.jpg

Right opposite the Farmer's Market there is a Wooden Bridge which connects to the Night Bazaar. Unfortunately it was late afternoon and the market was closed. However, the views from this bridge of Thimphu Chu was spectacular and breath taking.

Sharing some pictures of this place :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6786.jpg

Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6796.jpg

We now headed to visit to the upcoming 8th Wonder of the World as the locals call it - Buddha Dorndenma aka Buddha Point; Largest Buddha Rupa of the world having a height of 169 Feet and plated with Gold. It is the complete opposite corner of Thimphu and probably the highest point of the city. One gets to reach the level of the statue after climbing up 288 Steps which itself is a task. There were prayers being offered by thousands of monks here and thus getting good snaps was an issue. However, I managed a few clicks.

The entrance to Buddha Dordenma :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6803.jpg

The Buddha Statue :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6824.jpg

The view of Thimphu from this point :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6825.jpg

Now that is a spiritual snap :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6827.jpg

We again went back to the clock tower square and were lucky to find a parking there today as the cultural program was not taking place. We did some shopping and picked up plenty of these Local Apple and Lychee Juices for the remaining part of our journey :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6848.jpg

We had planned dinner at the Thijha Cafe which is at the Clock Tower Square and probably has the best food in the vicinity. However, it was a little costly, but again worth it for the quality and the ambiance :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_6852.jpg

We retired to our Hotel and called it an early night as all of us were tired including the Kids specially with a lot of walking involved all throughout the day.

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Old 22nd October 2017, 16:40   #5
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DAY 5 : 28/09/2017 : Thimphu to Dochula Pass to Wangdue : PART I

We got delayed due to the chores of the kids and decided to have our breakfast at the Hotel and set off for Wangdue (pronounced as 'Wangdi'). The last glimpse of Thimphu while we were on our way :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p5.d5-1.jpg

After 22Kms from Thimphu, there is another Check Post for Dochula. Getting our permits stamped here :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p5.d5-2.jpg

The Highlight of the day would be going through the Dochula Pass. Unlike India, passes in Bhutan are not as adventurous as one would expect them to be. The approach road to Dochula Pass was a smooth gliding experience :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p5.d5-3.jpg

A few clicks at Dochula :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p5.d5-4.jpg

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Some family clicks :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p5.d5-7.jpg

Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p5.d5-8.jpg

Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p5.d5-10.jpg

Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p5.d5-11.jpg

Around Dochula :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p5.d5-13.jpg

We thought of stopping at Dochula Resort Restaurant for refreshments and it was a wonderful place to unwind and enjoy some really good food. It offered indoor as well as outdoor seating with great views.

The Dochula Restaurant :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p5.d5-18.jpg

The indoor Restaurant :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p5.d5-14.jpg

Lovely Eclairs :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p5.d5-15.jpg

The BEST EMA DATSE in Bhutan that we had was at this place :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p5.d5-16.jpg

Some random click :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p5.d5-17.jpg

A parting shot of the Figo at Dochula Pass :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p5.d5-19.jpg

Wangdue was around 45 Kms from this point and we headed straight to our destination enjoying the scenic drive. A short break with some clicks of the Figo :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p5.d5-20.jpg

Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p5.d5-21.jpg

This boy would never leave an opportunity of jumping onto the driving seat in my absence :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p5.d5-22.jpg

We reached Lobeysa Village from where the left road headedto Punakha and the straight road headed to Wangdue :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p5.d5-23.jpg

Some Chillies being dried in the Sun : (a very common thing in Bhutan in every household)
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p5.d5-24.jpg

We finally reached our Hotel - the Dragon's Nest at Wangdue :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p5.d5-25.jpg

The Room :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p5.d5-26.jpg

View from the Room facing the River :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p5.d5-27.jpg

Lovely Flora & Fauna at the property :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p5.d5-28.jpg

Last edited by AJ-got-BHP : 24th October 2017 at 12:20. Reason: Changes
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Old 22nd October 2017, 17:35   #6
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DAY 5 : 28/09/2017 : Thimphu to Dochula Pass to Wangdue : PART II

We unloaded the luggage, freshened up and discussed about the highlights of the place with the Hotel Manager. We got to know that there was a festival just before the Wangdue Monastery where there would be lot of stalls by the locals. It sounded interesting as this would be a place where we would be interacting with the locals and seeing them recreate themselves. Without any further permutations, we left for the Wangue Festival.

The beautiful winding roads :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p6.d5-1.jpg

All identical buildings :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p6.d5-2.jpg

The bridge to cross the river for Wangdue Monastery :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p6.d5-3.jpg

The view from the other side of the bridge :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p6.d5-4.jpg

The place was jam packed with cars and there was scarcity of parking as the Taxi Drivers were plying in abundance. We luckily found a gap to park in which was not very far away from the venue and walked to the ground.

There were locals who were serving some delicious food which was cooked by them at their homes and served hot in casseroles in the Festival Grounds. We treated ourselves to it and it was unbelievably tasty.

Some Paprika Puchkas to start with :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p6.d5-5.jpg

Followed by Momos :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p6.d5-8.jpg

A cloth merchant :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p6.d5-6.jpg

The place bustling with the locals :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p6.d5-7.jpg

We did some petty shopping for the kids and spent some time there having a look around. They had certain games etc. also including face painting for the kids. We were there for a while and then left the place.

The Wangdue Monastery :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p6.d5-9.jpg

We returned back to our Hotel and ordered for some tea and some Hot Pakoras as our evening snacks and spent time with the kids by playing with them in the garden and enjoyed seeing the river flow.

The rainbow viewed from the property :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p6.d5-10.jpg

Ishanvi doing some colouring :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p6.d5-11.jpg

A night shot of the property:
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p6.d5-12.jpg

It was just a relaxing evening with nothing much to do. There was an option for going for Rafting in the Punakha Chu, but with the little one around we could not afford to do that and just enjoyed the property that evening.

Night stay at : Dragon's Nest Hotel @ Wangdue
A link to my Review of the Property : https://www.tripadvisor.in/ShowUserR..._District.html


DAY 6 : 29/09/2017 : Wangdue to Punakha : PART I

Woke up in the morning to find a solicited visitor right in front of our room who have come to greet us Good Morning !!
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p6.d6-1.jpg

Seems like Guava :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p6.d6-2.jpg

Dew Drops on the flower :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p6.d6-3.jpg

Beautiful Views :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p6.d6-4.jpg

See the mist on the river :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p6.d6-5.jpg

Junior playing his finger games :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p6.d6-6.jpg

The Lobby of the property :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p6.d6-7.jpg

The buffet at the restaurant :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p6.d6-8.jpg

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Old 22nd October 2017, 17:47   #7
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DAY 6 : 29/09/2017 : Wangdue to Punakha : PART II

Post breakfast it was time to move to Punakha to see the Mighty Punakha Dzong which I feel is the most beautiful Dzong in the Entire Kingdom of Bhutan due to it's locational advantage. The confluence of Mo Chu & Fo Chu beside the Dzong gives it a very different character all together.

The road to Punakha :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p7.d6-1.jpg

The first glimpse of Punakha Dzong :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p7.d6-2.jpg

One can click endless pictures of the Dzong as it is so very mesmerizing. We took a guided walk of the Dzong and I would like to share some clicks from my end of the visit to the Punakha Dzong :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p7.d6-3.jpg

Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p7.d6-4.jpg

Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p7.d6-5.jpg

Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p7.d6-6.jpg

Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p7.d6-7.jpg

Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p7.d6-8.jpg

Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p7.d6-9.jpg

Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p7.d6-10.jpg

Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p7.d6-14.jpg

Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p7.d6-15.jpg

Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p7.d6-11.jpg

A kitten busy eating something :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p7.d6-13.jpg

The Mahabodhi Tree which was brought from Bodh Gaya, Bihar :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p7.d6-16.jpg

The large prayer wheel :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p7.d6-17.jpg

A family picture :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p7.d6-12.jpg

We left the Punakha Dzong and headed to the Punakha Suspension Bridge which apparently is the largest suspension bridge in Bhutan. It is located near the Punakha Crematorium and the cars can be parked here. From this point, one has to undertake a short trek to the suspension bridge.

The Figo enroute the Suspension Bridge :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p7.d6-18.jpg

The Trek :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p7.d6-19.jpg

Crossing the Wooden Ladder; Ishanvi posing :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p7.d6-20.jpg

The first sight of the Suspension Bridge :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p7.d6-21.jpg

While on the suspension bridge :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p7.d6-22.jpg

Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p7.d6-23.jpg

As we headed back to our Hotel from the Suspension Bridge, the Figo was lucky to get some snaps clicked with the Punakha Dzong as the backdrop :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p7.d6-24.jpg

Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p7.d6-25.jpg

Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p7.d6-26.jpg

Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p7.d6-27.jpg

Note :
Entry Fees at Punakha Dzong is Rs.300/ Head
No Fee for the Suspension Bridge


Our to and Fro trip from Wangdue to Punakha and back was a mere 33 Kms Round Trip and we realized that staying in Wangdue was a better option as the available options were better in Wangdue.

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Old 22nd October 2017, 17:54   #8
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DAY 6 : 29/09/2017 : Punakha to Gangtey : PART III : Birthday Eve Drive

We were already way behind schedule and the concern was the road conditions to Gangtey. We were told by many people that the road condition in the eastern part of Bhutan was in atrocious condition due to the road widening work being on. A recent update from one of the WhatsApp groups updated that the road between Trongsa & Bumthang was in tatters. Since we were in a low slung Hatchback, the locals advised us to be careful.

I was confident that the Figo would sustain the Bad & Non Existent Roads, but only upto a certain level. However, the rain Gods were not in our favour and I was dreading to drive on isolated bad roads in the dark with family. Hurriedly, taking advantage of the good roads we started off.

We had to head towards Trongsa :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p8.d6-1.jpg

The good roads did not last for much time and the fun began :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p8.d6-2.jpg

Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p8.d6-3.jpg

Some patches of good roads :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p8.d6-4.jpg

We were at level with the clouds :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p8.d6-5.jpg

Slushy roads :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p8.d6-6.jpg

As the roads conditions became worse, it started getting more beautiful and colder too :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p8.d6-7.jpg

The Figo staring at the roads :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p8.d6-8.jpg

Time for a Selfie :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p8.d6-9.jpg

Some random shots enroute :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p8.d6-10.jpg

Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p8.d6-11.jpg

Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p8.d6-12.jpg

Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p8.d6-13.jpg

There was a sharp hairpin bend upwards on the right to Gangtey and the straight road headed to Trongsa. We took the sharp hairpin bend towards Gangtey until we saw a Stupa from where the road was now downhill to the valley.

The Stupa at the Pass :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p8.d6-14.jpg

The road cutting through the mountains downwards :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p8.d6-15.jpg

The first sight of the Valley :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p8.d6-16.jpg

We headed towards the Gangtey Monastery and I called up the Hotel manager to ask him the way. He guided us and we headed in that direction till we saw this board :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p8.d6-17.jpg

The valley at Gangtey :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p8.d6-18.jpg

This road to the property was a complete farm road with slush and wet mud and nothing else. The drive was hell adventurous and I could not manage to take any snaps or a video of it. There were light water crossings as well. We were driving through a small village with farm cattle all around and it was a memorable experience.

The better stretch :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p8.d6-19.jpg

The entrance to the Lodge :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p8.d6-20.jpg

The Figo parked beside a Fortuner 4x4 :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p8.d6-30.jpg

The view of the valley from the Lodge :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p8.d6-29.jpg

We off loaded the luggage and checked in. The welcome at the Lodge was the Best in Bhutan so far with Authentic Bhutanese Tea which was for a change tasty followed with some freshly fried Pakoras with Eezay (which is a spicy, cheesy chili paste served as a sauce/ accompaniment) :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p8.d6-24.jpg

Way to the rooms :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p8.d6-22.jpg

Our Room :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p8.d6-23.jpg

The Wood Fire Heater in each room was so much wanted in the biting cold of Gangtey :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p8.d6-21.jpg

A stroll through the Lodge Grounds :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p8.d6-26.jpg

Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p8.d6-25.jpg

Spending some cuddly moments with Junior :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p8.d6-27.jpg

Night stay At : RKPO Lodge @ Gangtey
My Review of the Property : https://www.tripadvisor.in/ShowUserR..._District.html

Last edited by ampere : 6th November 2017 at 22:37. Reason: Changes; Alcohol mentions not allowed. Removed the same from the post
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Old 23rd October 2017, 11:56   #9
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DAY 7 : 30/09/2017 : Gangtey to Phobjikha : PART I : My Birthday

Birthday of your's truly It was a blessing in disguise to be in the lap of nature and in the mountains on my Birthday with my lovely family and my trusted companion, the Figo. Waking up to the Valley with lush colours all around was hearty. Everything around seemed more colourful than usual thanks to the overnight rains which were continuing till the morning.

The view of the Gangtey Monastery from our room :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7258.jpg

The view of Gangtey Goenpa Lodge from our room :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7259.jpg
Note : This property is priced at 850 USD ++ Per Room Per Night

We lazed and had our breakfast and packed up to leave. The rains were slightly heavy and it had become very windy. To get the luggage into the car was also a task. However, we found the opportune moment and loaded the Figo. The concern was the slushy Farm Road which must have become worse now and going uphill on it would have been challenging. Not thinking much we started.

The slushy & mucky road :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7267.jpg

The water crossing :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7271.jpg

The Figo splashing some water and having some fun :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img20171013wa0032.jpg

The view of the fogged valley :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7274.jpg

Figo posing (notice the slush splashed on the doors) :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7276.jpg

We were heading to Phobjikha Valley aka The Valley of the Black Necked Cranes which migrate from Siberia & Tibet from the mid of October and stay in this valley for a period of 3-4 months. In February 2017, the count of these birds in the country was 555 wherein 52 of them were juveniles as per the data from the Crane Centre in Phobjikha.

The board enroute say sit all :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7279.jpg

The beautiful road enroute :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7281.jpg

The Gangtey Monastery :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7282.jpg

Some pictures enroute Phobjikha Valley :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7283.jpg

Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7284.jpg

Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7285.jpg

Yes, Wetland of International Importance indeed :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7288.jpg

Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7289.jpg

The Crane Centre at Phobjikha where tourists and locals can get all the information about these wonderful creatures :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7324.jpg

Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7323.jpg

Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7313.jpg

Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7296.jpg

That's how big the cranes are, in size :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7299.jpg

The view of the valley from the Crane Centre :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7303.jpg

Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7306.jpg

Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7307.jpg

At the crane center, we saw an Audio Visual Movie at the Theatre in the Crane Center as well which had a lot of information about the cranes and the valley of Phobjikha. One must see this Audio Visual if you are there. We were lucky to see a Crane here also !! It is an Injured Crane named Karma who has been kept by the centre and is being taken care of by them as it cannot fly anymore due to an attack from a wild dog. A sad story as it cannot go back to it's homeland.

Some pictures of Karma, the injured Crane :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7320.jpg

Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7317.jpg

Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7321.jpg

A Happy Family at the Crane Center at Phobjikha :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7326.jpg

Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7327.jpg

After a breathtaking visit to the Phobjikha Valley, it was time for us to leave for Paro. When I was in Kolkata, I had seen on Google Maps that there was an alternate route to connect to Wangdue which was shorter. However, on finding out about the same from the locals, I was told that that road was in complete shambles and that the locals were not using that road as well. It was a Farm road with deep slush and even the 4x4s were supposedly having a tough time going through that route. Thus, even they were avoiding that stretch of road. So now, with not any option left, we started for Paro taking the same road back.

We stopped here for a short tea break and moved on :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7334.jpg

It was going to be a long drive today negotiating the bad, slushy roads yet once again. I guess that's the fun for people like us :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img20171013wa0049.jpg

It took us 3 hours to reach Wangdue where we stopped for a short lunch break. From Wangdue, the destination of Paro was another 3 Hours or so, covering a distance of 190 Kms from Gangtey to Paro in totality.

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Old 23rd October 2017, 12:06   #10
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DAY 7 : 30/09/2017 : Phobjikha to Paro : PART II : My Birthday

We reached Paro in the Evening and the markets were just about to close down, so we headed towards our hotel which was a little away from the main town. We were excited to be at the property as it would be a walk through the Farm and away from the hustle and bustle of the main town.

Paro Rinpung Dzong at night :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7363.jpg

Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7364.jpg

The entrance to our Hotel :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7376.jpg

The Reception Area :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7377.jpg

The washroom in the room was fancy :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7368.jpg

The backyard of the Hotel :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7369.jpg

A private building of the owners in the backyard :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7370.jpg

The dining room :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7374.jpg

Another Cake Cutting Session :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7396.jpg

A fantastic day and a fantastic birthday where I was doing what I love to do most. Driving !! The ended with good food and to end it all at a good choicest accommodation amidst the farm where just pin drop silence prevailed for a comfortable night's sleep.

Night stay At : The Village Lodge @ Paro
My Review of the Property : https://www.tripadvisor.in/ShowUserR..._District.html



DAY 8 : 01/10/2017 : At Paro : PART I

A breathtaking morning with the farm all around. The colours were mind blowing and we loved nature's beauty to the fullest. Our original plan was to do Haa Valley today and return to Phuntsholling. However, as we were having Tea in the balcony of our Lodge, we decided to extend a day at Paro. But, unfortunately the hotel was completely sold out for the night and that meant that we would have to hunt for another Hotel. It was peak season and none of the Hotels were showing availability in any of the online portals. We discussed with our Lodge Manager who was helpful enough to call up a few of his contacts looking for a room for us, but with no luck.

Then came the savior - Google. I Googled - "Rooms in Paro" and it showed that a room was available in Hotel Tashiling which was in the Bazaar Area of Paro. I called up the property and to our luck, they confirmed the availability. We packed up and rushed to Hotel Tashiling to check out the rooms. The rooms were fine for a night's sleep and we were asked to pay the tarroff entirely in advance and we did so in certainty of getting the room.

The view from the Village Lodge, Paro :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7404.jpg

The Village Lodge as we walked the trail back to our Car :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7415.jpg

Us :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7406.jpg

Paro Chu flowing beside the road :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7420.jpg

We got our room keys at the Tashiling Hotel and headed to the Market area to find a good place for breakfast. There were plenty of options, but we were late for breakfast and only a few of them were serving breakfast. We decided to go in for a brunch kind of thing at the Mountain Cafe and their food was very good.

A picture of the Cafe :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7432.jpg

A piece which we liked a lot at one of the Handicraft Shop but was way beyond our budget @ Rs.1,50,000/=. The thought was 'may be some day' but as of now a picture will do :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7423.jpg

The Figo parked at the Market Place :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7430.jpg

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DAY 8 : 01/10/2017 : Paro to Haa Valley Via Chele La Pass and back to Paro : PART II

We planned to do a day trip to the Haa Valley via Chele La Pass which apparently is the highest Pass in Bhutan at 12,000+ Feets. The climb to Chele La Pass was very scenic with pulsating views of the Paro Town. However, the roads were narrow but were in very good condition all throughout. The climb up was also a pretty short drive of only 68 Kilometers and we leisurely started our drive.

A point from where it showed that Chele La was just 35Kms :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7451.jpg

A Short Video of the Climb :


The view of Paro Town where one can see the Runway and the Airport :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7455.jpg

The view of the other side :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7457.jpg

The prayer flags fluttering :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7466.jpg

Some steep inclines :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7468.jpg

Dwellings at a distance (The question is how does one reach there ?) :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7478.jpg

The view from Chele La Pass :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7487.jpg

At Chele La Pass :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7491.jpg

There was immense traffic at Chele La and we moved on towards Haa Valley and the view were even more majestic as we moved on. Initially on one hand we had thought of bunking this sector, but the views made us realize that it was a good decision to abide by the initial plan.

Speechless :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7497.jpg

The prayer flags fluttering at a distance :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7506.jpg

The sky and the clouds adding to the gorgeousness :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7510.jpg

The winding roads :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7512.jpg

Aah, so we reached the fluttering flags :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7517.jpg

The first view of the Haa Valley :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7523.jpg

Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7525.jpg

The Figo takes a break :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7526.jpg

View Point for Haa Valley :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7531.jpg

The entrance to the Military School at Haa :
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Military School Premises :
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The Figo parked before the Haa Monastery :
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One of the very vibrant monasteries out of the lot that I had seen in Bhutan :
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Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7544.jpg

Myself with Junior at the Haa Monastery Entrance :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7551.jpg

We found a small shack opposite the Haa Monastery where they were serving Maggi. It was all that was required to fill our stomachs and we had Hot Maggi, Some Momos and some Chana Roti (the local food) from this shack before we started for Paro again. Now, we had heard about an alternate route to Paro from Haa which is approximately a 100Kms drive back. A longer route but takes about the same time or so. We wanted to venture this route and thus took this uninhabited and isolated road back to Paro via Susuna & Chuzom. This road was a little rugged and not as smooth as the Chele La drive. However, it was worth taking this road for the scenic beauty.

The Helipad at Haa :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7552.jpg

A valley enroute Susuna after crossing Haa Valley :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7557.jpg

A log house amidst no where and with no one around :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7562.jpg

We stopped, it was a Bird with a long tail. Wonder what the name would be :
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The Figo poses with the clouds as it's backdrop :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7568.jpg

Shades of sunset, unseen before :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7570.jpg

It was evening as we reached Paro and did some shopping before we decided to have our Dinner at the Sonam Trophel Restaurant which serves very sumptuous food. The food was finger licking good and is a must try for everyone visiting Paro. Post dinner we retired to our Hotel and called it an early night as we had decided to head to Siliguri on the following day and planned to start early.

Night stay At : Hotel Tashiling @ Paro
My Review of the Property : https://www.tripadvisor.in/ShowUserR..._District.html

Last edited by AJ-got-BHP : 6th November 2017 at 14:17. Reason: Changes
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Old 23rd October 2017, 12:28   #12
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DAY 9 : 02/10/2017 : Paro to Siliguri

We woke up at around 5:00am in the morning and started off from Paro at around 06:00am. The roads were deserted and the drive back was a breeze through some very good roads. We had to cover around 315Kms today in order to reach Siliguri.

The isolated roads at Paro :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7574.jpg

Figo posing at Paro bidding Goodbye :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7578.jpg

It was a fancy of mine to see an Aircraft take off from the Paro Airport and we were lucky to witness one as we drove alongside the Paro Runway. Paro Airport is supposed to be one of the more difficult Airports in the world to take off and land and to see the aircraft swerve to it's left to avoid the mountains in the front immediately after take off was a sight to see. The army patrolling did not allow us to park and we crawled through the road to see the sight of the aircraft taking off. The children were thrilled !!

The Aircraft prepping up for Take Off :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7581.jpg

Phuntsholling 141 Kms :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7585.jpg

A random click of a waterfall alongside the road :
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A customary snap of the Figo posing :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7590.jpg

Breakfast stop at the Dantak Canteen again for some 'Chhola Bhatura & Idlis' :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7593.jpg

We checked into our Hotel - The Sinclairs Siliguri :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7595.jpg

We had our lunch at the Hotel and and set off for some work in Siliguri as my family relaxed at the Hotel. As I was busy sorting some errands, I thought it would be wise to give the car for a Car Wash as it was filthily dirty from inside and outside. Found a small garage as referred by an associate which charged Rs.350/= fora complete service which was worth it and well deserved by the Figo.

A snap at the Service Station :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p_20171003_145222.jpg

Night stay At : Hotel Tashiling @ Paro
My Review of the Property : https://www.tripadvisor.in/ShowUserR...st_Bengal.html



DAY 10 : 03/10/2017 : At Siliguri (for Work)

We continued our stay in Siliguri as I had some work in Siliguri. An idea crossed my mind and I left the Hotel early morning to go to the Nepal Border in order to understand the Rules & Regulations for Indian Vehicles to Enter Nepal and the requisite formalities for the same. From Siliguri it was a short drive to Panitanki Border and I met with the concerned authorities to cook the idea of my next overseas road trip.

The Nepal Immigration Office :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p_20171003_081012.jpg

The land which divides the two countries :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-p_20171003_081702.jpg

The rest of the day I was at work and returned back to the hotel at night to spend some time with family and have dinner with them. The following day was our day of return to Kolkata.


DAY 11 : 04/10/2017 : Siliguri to Kolkata

We decided to take the Bhagalpur route instead of the conventional route back to Kolkata. An early morning start made us avoid the traffic and we reached Bhagalpur very comfortably and stopped there for Lunch. On checking out with the locals, we were told that the Bhagalpur to Dumka stretch was now better and was under repair. SOinstead of diverting to Deoghar we took the road to Dumka and then back to Kolkata. We completed this stretch in effectively 13 Hours of driving time very comfortably.

Sharing some pictures of the Bhagalpur Route randomly :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7596.jpg

Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7597.jpg

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The Odo Reading of the Trip :
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_7605.jpg

A wonderful trip comes to an end and going the through the photographs of it made me recollect how beautiful the country of Bhutan actually is. We had a wonderful time and have got back beautiful memories of the place which are a part of us now, forever. We wanted to go up to Bumthang, but considering our ride with No Back Up Vehicle and the given road conditions, it would not be a good experimenting option. Hopefully we shall do that sector someday through another entry exit point of Bhutan which now remains in our To-Do List.

Some Key Points and things to remember when driving in Bhutan :
  • Google Maps does not work in Bhutan
  • It is better to use any other App for Navigation - We used MAPS.me
  • Make sure you have your route mapped on a piece of paper which will help you to find your way
  • There is high driving discipline in Bhutan and literally no one drives rashly
  • If you seek to overtake, give the right indicator to the car ahead of you. They will show their consent by giving the Left Indicator to you which means you may overtake now
  • All throughout the trip, I hardly found people honking in Bhutan - avoid it and everyone is at peace
  • Pedestrians have the first right of way - Make sure you do not intercept their way by any means and give them the privilege of their way undisturbed
  • There are numerous Zebra Crossings in all the cities of Bhutan. If you are walking, make sure you use the Zebra Crossings and just do not barge through the road - The Police is very strict about this
  • Do not park anywhere you feel like. There are designated Parking Spots which are marked, park there only. Certain spaces also have marks with a cross which means it is not meant for parking. So be cautious of where you are parking.
  • Your identity is your Permit and your Car's identity is the Permit issued in favour of the car. Keep the originals safely and keep atleast 5 Copies of each handy
  • Make sure you get the permits duly stamped at all the check posts while going and more importantly while returning. If you miss to get the permit stamped on return in any one of the check posts and if you land up before a stone faced officer, he might send you back to get your permits stamped at the last check post. Keep a note of the Check Posts.

Some other points :
  • Language unanimously spoken in Bhutan is English, Hindi & Bhutanese - so no issues as such
  • Only 3G Connectivity in Bhutan - Advisable to use Tashi Cell Sim which is easily available
  • Mostly Indian & Chinese food available everywhere along with Bhutanese Food
  • The food standard overall is satisfactory and one shall get the basics to be right
  • Must note - There is no slaughtering in Bhutan and All Meat including Chicken & Fish is sent from India in Frozen form. So Non-Veg is never fresh in Bhutan. One can opt to be Vegetarian if one likes.
  • I felt the food was relatively more expensive in Bhutan

One good thing learnt is that wearing a smile one your face does not cost much. There is happiness in simplicity !!

Last edited by AJ-got-BHP : 6th November 2017 at 16:06. Reason: Changes
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Old 6th November 2017, 16:48   #13
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Thread moved out from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section). Thanks for sharing!
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Old 6th November 2017, 18:05   #14
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I always love to read your travelogues and this one is no different with excellent pics and detailed narration. Rated 5*
I love the way how you put it as a family trip. Your narration and pics say a lot how you enjoyed the trip with your family.
Mivann has already seen the deserts of Rajasthan, hills of Sikkim & Bhutan, jungle of Dooars, so expecting your next travelogue from a sea side?

Last year i visited Bhutan with my parents and we enjoyed every bit of the trip. (http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...ota-etios.html (Ecstatic Bhutan and lush green Dooars in a Toyota Etios) ) Will visit Bhutan again in future. I just love this country.

Hijacking your thread by sharing few pics from our Bhutan trip!
Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_0925.jpg

Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_1033.jpg

Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_1052.jpg

Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_1095.jpg

Figo explores the Kingdom of Bhutan : The Land of the Thunder Dragon-img_1096.jpg

Last edited by Samba : 6th November 2017 at 18:30.
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Old 6th November 2017, 19:41   #15
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Great tlog Arav. Rating it five stars. Apart from the permits for the travellers and the vehicle, does one need to take vehicle insurance to cover any accident that could happen in Bhutan.

Love the rusty look of Figo after being mud splattered.
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