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Old 28th March 2010, 12:25   #16
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WOW, looks like the town painted in white; pls keep coming with the pics sir; don't know if we would be able to see those places in our lifetime, so the pics will definitely quench the thirst for now.
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Old 28th March 2010, 13:01   #17
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nice teaser, wonder what time of the day it is in this picture, its dark but still not dark.
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Old 28th March 2010, 15:50   #18
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SST,sarkar another super travelogue coming our way, awaiting to go through the whole of that teaser pic, seems a fantastic journey and experience for you as well.Keep posting.
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Old 29th March 2010, 12:25   #19
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Oh! On seeing your post on the VK Meet thread, I was looking forward to a "mother of all trips on the MHawk" kinda travelogue. Anyway, hope you're having fun

Quote:
Originally Posted by SS-Traveller View Post
Sunday, 21 March, 2010: Ten minutes after departing for the airport, our Meru cab slams into an idiot trying to run across the NH8 expressway, and cracks its windshield. The idiot gets up, brushes himself and limps away.
Very very lucky that the idiot got up & walked. Could have spoilt the entire trip if things had gone wrong. So, was the Meru guy driving rashly or how did this happen?

Last edited by suman : 29th March 2010 at 12:26.
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Old 29th March 2010, 14:17   #20
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Excellent trip you are having it seems. Please keep posting more, getting impatient !!! The pics reminds me of my sikkim trip about 4 years ago.

BTW are you planning to visit Gorumara also in the last leg of your trip ??
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Old 29th March 2010, 22:19   #21
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Posting a quick update from Darjeeling, where we arrived this afternoon from Pelling, along a wonderfully arduous road. Had to ditch our ride (a Bolero) at Pelling because the driver acted funny, and we got a Tata Spacio to bring us here (damn sight more comfortable than the Bolero).

The Nathu La trip was to happen in the Bolero but actually happened in a cancerous M&M Maxx which broke down both on the way up and down and required some engineering inputs from me to get it moving (that's a really long story). Tomorrow we plan on some local sightseeing in and around Darjeeling, and move down to Bagdogra on the 31st. Skipping the Gorumara stayover as planned earlier, mainly because of the lack of time, and also because it's hot in thae area.

Our planned ride for the next two days is a Tavera.

Can't post pics because the datacard is running awfully slowly. Please bear with me till the 31st before I can post a detailed travelogue.

Last edited by SS-Traveller : 29th March 2010 at 22:23.
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Old 29th March 2010, 22:28   #22
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Have a great trip SS. The teaser pic has got me salivating.
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Old 29th March 2010, 22:37   #23
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SS, you just missed KSM-VTEC who just arrived in Gangtok after a long 3-day drive from Bombay. I believe Nathu la was closed today due to snowfall. Did you try to get the permits for the Baleno? KSM-VTEC is hearing that private cars will be allowed to Nathu la - any feedback on that?
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Old 29th March 2010, 23:34   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SS-Traveller View Post
Posting a quick update from Darjeeling, where we arrived this afternoon from Pelling, along a wonderfully arduous road.
The Naya Bazar route which we talked about? Your words describe it perfectly, though I would have used adventurous rather than arduous. (My perceptions being coloured by doing it in an Ambassador in the monsoons.) Any missing planks on one of the bridges?

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Old 29th March 2010, 23:45   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sutripta View Post
The Naya Bazar route which we talked about? Your words describe it perfectly, though I would have used adventurous rather than arduous.
Which route? The Jorethang-Legship-Reshi or the Dentam-Kaluk-Reshi route?
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Old 30th March 2010, 10:51   #26
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wonderful sir ji

I am sure you must be missing your truck desperately
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Old 31st March 2010, 00:14   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
Which route? The Jorethang-Legship-Reshi or the Dentam-Kaluk-Reshi route?
Don't know which one SS took till Naya Bazar. (SS, Pls speak up!) Doubt taxis will want to go on the Kaluk route.

From Naya Bazar, am pretty sure they took the Nayabazar - Singla - Darj route rather than Melli - Tista Bazar - Peshok Rd. See quite a few taxis on the Singla route nowadays. Previously you could drive the full route without meeting another vehicle.

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Old 31st March 2010, 23:04   #28
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Thank you everybody, for your good wishes. Am back home this evening to enjoy the heat of Delhi as much as we did the weather up in the hills.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
Which route? The Jorethang-Legship-Reshi or the Dentam-Kaluk-Reshi route?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sutripta View Post
Don't know which one SS took till Naya Bazar. (SS, Pls speak up!) Doubt taxis will want to go on the Kaluk route.

From Naya Bazar, am pretty sure they took the Nayabazar - Singla - Darj route rather than Melli - Tista Bazar - Peshok Rd.
We came to Nayabazar from Pelling via Legship, and carried on straight towards Soreng(?) (I think that's the name of the place?!), crossed the Rangit there and entered WB. (We did cross over into Jorethang to fix a puncture, and managed to find a shop open - Nayabazar and Jorethang are closed on Mondays).

From there we wound up through 1st-gear roads through tea gardens and across Singla (where we were searched by self-styled police of the STS - the Singla-Tukver Samasty - who also made sure we didn't take any photos of them).

Quote:
Originally Posted by hvkumar
I believe Nathu la was closed today due to snowfall. Did you try to get the permits for the Baleno? KSM-VTEC is hearing that private cars will be allowed to Nathu la - any feedback on that?
Yes, Nathu La was closed to traffic on the 29th March. In fact, even on the 27th, the day we went, access to the pass itself (the last 4 km) was closed - we had to be satisfied with a darshan at the Baba Mandir. On the 28th, the whole route was closed because of the snowfall the previous afternoon-evening (in which we were stuck for close to 3 hours, and regretting the lack of 4wd).

I did check with the police there, and yes, private vehicles are also allowed, provided they are owner-driven (your personal ID and vehicle owner's name have to be the same), and provided the police think the vehicle is fit to take on that kind of roads. They specifically asked me what car I proposed to drive, and on hearing it's a 4WD SUV, they assured me a permit would be easy to get if I applied a day earlier than the date on which I planned to travel. Permits are issued from the Office of the Inspector General of Police, Checkpost Branch, which is located near the Sikkim Tourism Office at the entry of MG Road.

To continue with the travelogue as promised...
Quote:
Originally Posted by SS-Traveller View Post
Sunday, 21 March, 2010:
... to be continued...
We check in into the Central Hotel at Phuentsholing at 7 pm.
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-ctrl-hotelk80.jpg
The manager, Ajay Sharma, belongs to Hisar, HR, and is a very helpful gentleman.
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-ajay-sharmak80.jpg
An excellent dinner of momos, thukpa and pork spare ribs at the Zen Restaurant,
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-zen1k80.jpg
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-zen2k80.jpg
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-zen-menuk80.jpg
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-zen-thukpak80.jpg

preceded by a spot of shopping,
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-shoppingk80.jpg

promise a wonderful beginning to the trip.
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-view-frm-ctrl-hotlk80.jpg


Monday, 22 March, 2010
:
Unexpected rain in the morning makes for a depressing mood, and little did we know that rain, fog and ice would accompany our journey till the penultimate day.
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-rain-mornk80.jpg
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-border-plingk80.jpg
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-pumpk80.jpg
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-copcark80.jpg

The cleanliness of Phuentsholing is contrasted by the trash deposited at the pedestrian entrance channel on the Jaigaon side. No wonder the Bhutanese want everyone to step into potassium permanganate before walking into Bhutan!
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-trash-jaigaonk80.jpg

We are a little apprehensive about our permits (we were told that Bhutan Immigration is screening all applications and not all people get in), but in the event it takes us less than an hour to get our permits.
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-noticek80.jpg
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-immig-off1k80.jpg
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-immigr-off2k80.jpg
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-immig-off25k80.jpg
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-immigr-off3k80.jpg

We submit our papers, have our pictures taken, and by the time we finish a decent breakfast at Zomkey Restaurant, the papers are ready.
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-zomkeyk80.jpg

Zomkey is a Bengali restaurant (actually Jhumki in Bengali) frequented by the local Bhutanese populace because of its authentic Bong food and reasonable pricing. We had luchi and alur dom, eggs and toast, and a super-sweet tea.

In the meanwhile, an angel in the form of Pema, our companion and driver for the next 3 days, turns up at the steps of the immigration office soon after we submitted our papers.
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-pemak80.jpg
He offers us a trip to Thimphu for 200 INR/Nu per person (i.e. 1000 INR/Nu for all of us), and would be our daily ride for the next two full days for 1800 INR each day, including the trip back to P'ling from Thimpu.


It turns out he is offering us a 10-seater microbus (the Kia Pregio), which leaves us all with lots of space to stretch out and relax in.
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-kia1k80.jpg

The only tradeoff is that it is a courier delivery van, and would stop for a few minutes at a few places to deliver packets. Fine with us.
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-kia2k80.jpg
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-kia3k80.jpg
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-kia-officek80.jpg

And we are on our way.

Last edited by SS-Traveller : 31st March 2010 at 23:10.
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Old 1st April 2010, 07:18   #29
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Welcome back doc,
hope you had a nice trip. lets have quick meet to take stock of your trip details.

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Old 1st April 2010, 11:37   #30
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Nice travelogue. Some of the competitors of the Indo-Bhutan rally were put up at Central Hotel. A decent one I would say.

Would like to know your feedback about the road from Thimpu to P'ling, if you took the direct route
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