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Old 1st April 2010, 15:26   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by v&v View Post
How was ther journey in Tavera?
I had horrible travel experiance in it from Delhi to Masoori ?
Had occasion to ride a Tavera again in Darjeeling, and back to Bagdogra. Felt comfortable, though sounded underpowered, but I didn't have any experience of driving it myself. The driver did mention that it's a lot more expensive to maintain than a Xylo or Innova, but then it was the hotel car, and he couldn't care less.
Quote:
Originally Posted by tanwaramit View Post
From Scorp to Bolero.
Had on different occasions ridden on a Scorp M2Di, a Maxx, a Bolero, a Sumo, a Spacio 3.0 Di, and 2 Taveras.
Quote:
Originally Posted by maddy42 View Post
Wow. Driving in the snow is scary and very slow i guess. Bhutan sounds to be very beautiful so waiting for your pictures to confirm the same.

Sorry to hear about your situation though. Breath in Breath out. Like Anil Kapoor says. Be + Yaar
Driving in snow with the right kind of driver behind the wheel is good fun, but it can be scary when the driver is bad. Watch this thread for what happened during our Nathu La trip.
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Originally Posted by julupani View Post
Had got stuck in a snow storm for about 7 hours on this very road, near Tsongmo Lake.
Wow. 7 hours! When was this?
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Originally Posted by akaushik View Post
Awesome picture and night time at nathula pass route what a combination!! moon light on snow & ice seems like nature wrapped silver foil all over the planet...

reason : My laptop's screen was enough tilted...to create a mirage that picture captured at night time but in reality it seems like dusk!!
This pic was taken around 5 pm, and the sky was overcast as dusk set in. It was certainly a magical scene all around.
Quote:
Originally Posted by theMAG View Post
I really envy you folks living within reach of the Himalayan range. That entire region is magical.
It is indeed magical! But wait a couple of months, I'm headed out to discover the magic of the monsoons at your end of the country!
Quote:
Originally Posted by sudev View Post
Lovely teaser - now out with the rest of the N'La trip details. F5 F5 F5
Not so fast! There are close to 2000 pics and videos to sort through. Before Nathu La, let me take you to Thimphu and Paro first.
Quote:
Originally Posted by 3.2 View Post
...look forward to the pictures of your adventure into that beautiful region.
Thanks. Pics coming up a little at a time.
Quote:
Originally Posted by gaddiwale View Post
The Motorist Inn in the 3rd photo is that in Raninagar - between Siliguri and Jalpaiguri? I think it is - my native - feeling nostalgic.
Happy tavelling.
Thank you. Yes, that's the one. They have a resort across the road too.
Quote:
Originally Posted by aargee View Post
...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.
One lietime isn't enough to catch the drama of nature that unfolds in these areas as the seasons roll on. I bwlieve I just saw one phase of that drama.
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Originally Posted by vijaythacker View Post
...seems a fantastic journey and experience for you as well.
It certainly was a great experience.
Quote:
Originally Posted by suman View Post
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?
Not the cabbie's fault. The idiot almost got run over by a SUV first, managed to escape and hit the cab. In any case, I had enough time to catch the flight.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shantanu Sarkar View Post
BTW are you planning to visit Gorumara also in the last leg of your trip ??
One day soon, I'll go back there and visit all the WLS's in that region like you did. Your trip got me thinking - I really didn't want a homoeopathic dose of the glory of those forests.
Quote:
Originally Posted by v&v View Post
Welcome back doc,
hope you had a nice trip. lets have quick meet to take stock of your trip details.
Thanks v&v. Meet can happen any time. This weekend is ok.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Saurabh M View Post
Some of the competitors of the Indo-Bhutan rally were put up at Central Hotel. A decent one I would say.
Except that the dining room is vegetarian - a small disadvantage for us.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Saurabh M View Post
Would like to know your feedback about the road from Thimpu to P'ling, if you took the direct route
We came back on the direct route, but went up via Pasakha. Route pics coming up - one of the advantages of not driving is being able to click loads of pics of the road and scenery.
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Old 1st April 2010, 16:20   #32
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SS,

This is definitely one travelogue I am looking forward to! The picture of the snow filled road is great!

Even more interested in knowing about the "adventures" that you had been thru!

Post on!
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Old 1st April 2010, 18:19   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SS-Traveller View Post

Monday, 22 March, 2010
: And we are on our way.
The drive to Thimphu from Phuentsholing starts well. A polite driver with good driving skills, a softly-sprung spacious car which is not too noisy despite it being 10 years old with 184,000 km on the clock, and the rain has stopped despite overcast skies - we look forward to a wonderful few hours ahead.

Sweeping roads
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-dsc08596k80.jpg

Sweeping out this truck
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-dsc08597k80.jpg

Road diversion at Rinchending - have to take the road to Pasakha
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-dsc08598k80.jpg

The bad roads begin
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-dsc08599k80.jpg

But our wonder at the beauty of nature doesn't wane
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-dsc08600k80.jpg

Driver wants to buy this - called apeygong in Drukpa language
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but the lady wants 100 Nu. for it, and is in no mood to bargain
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-dsc08602k80.jpg

Let the rains come on again
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First sight of Pasakha - industrial area with lots of factories, rolling mills and more...
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-dsc08604k80.jpg

Prayer flags line the road - a common site in Buddhist regions including Bhutan and Sikkim
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-dsc08605k80.jpg

Rough roads begin
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Closer to the industrial area - with its smoke and noise
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-dsc08611k80.jpg

Across another IMBAR (India-made Bridge Across River)
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-dsc08612k80.jpg

And we carry on until...

Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-dsc08613k80.jpg

...our car is cleaned of H5N1 viruses
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-dsc08614k80.jpg
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The road goes on - a little better sometimes, often as rough as ever
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First sight through the fog of the Damchhu River, which flows down from Thimphu
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-dsc08623k80.jpg

The road narrows down in some places
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-dsc08624k80.jpg
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-dsc08625k80.jpg

A really cold bath in unpleasant weather. Brrrr...
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-dsc08626k80.jpg
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-dsc08627k80.jpg

... to be continued...

Last edited by SS-Traveller : 1st April 2010 at 18:23.
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Old 1st April 2010, 20:33   #34
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...continuing on the road to Thimphu...

The mountains of Bhutan, at least before Gedu, are highly landslide-prone

Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-lslide1k80.jpg

Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-lside2k80.jpg


Road works in progress

Attachment 321451

Attachment 321452


These stretches don't look like they've been worked upon in quite some time...

Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-badrd1k80.jpg

Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-badrd2k80.jpg

Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-badrd3k80.jpg


Houses with a standardized design and appearance everywhere

Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-standardhsek80.jpg


1500 rpm, 30 km/h, hold her steady, here we go...

Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-stedyk80.jpg


We're in Dala...

Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-dala1k80.jpg

Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-dala2k80.jpg


Hi

Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-hi1k80.jpg

Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-hi2k80.jpg


The forests romancing the road...

Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-forest1k80.jpg

Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-forest2k80.jpg


...as we approach Gedu

Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-gedu1k80.jpg

Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-gedu2k80.jpg


Good roads announce the fact that we are approaching Gedu, but the fog persists


Landmarks at Gedu - Engineering College

Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-geduengcollk80.jpg


Hydel project

Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-hydelk80.jpg


Time for a break...

Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-break1k80.jpg

Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-break2k80.jpg
Attached Thumbnails
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Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-rdwks2k80.jpg  


Last edited by Dippy : 5th April 2010 at 09:14. Reason: Merging on request
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Old 1st April 2010, 21:58   #35
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More photos from the road to Thimphu...

Our driver offers us a spare SIM card, and we recharge it at the tea stop
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-dsc08662k80.jpg
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-dsc08663k80.jpg

The Bhutan-style dhaba is usually a small store-cum-tea stall-cum-bar that also caters to other needs than tea and food.
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-dsc08677k80.jpg
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Cheese (datse) is a standard add-on to the Bhutanese diet - ema datse, kewa datse, and a host of other recipes using cheese can be tried out. We did!
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-dsc08665k80.jpg

The centre of attraction in a Bhutanese living room is usually a coal- or kerosene-fired room heater-cum-water boiler
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-dsc08660k80.jpg
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All houses are decorated with intricate hand painted murals like these
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-dsc08668k80.jpg

Met the official driving this car and chatted with him for some time over a snack of peanuts. RTSA stands for Road Transport and Safety Authority.
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-dsc08681k80.jpg
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Old 2nd April 2010, 00:58   #36
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The Thimpu-P'ling road is horrendous, except for the stretch near Thimpu. You had some rain on the way, which settled the dust. When we traveled in Feb, it was extremely dusty. Wonder why they do not repair the roads which is pretty strategic and has considerable volume of traffic.

Here's a couple of examples from our return journey to P'ling.

Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-p2080149-large.jpg

Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-p2080150-large.jpg
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Old 2nd April 2010, 07:05   #37
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Whew!!! the roads looks definetly bad & worth considering them as border roads. Just one question, how did you manage to take pics of people & shops, especially the ones where they clear for H5N1 viruses? Wouldn't they object? Do you've to convince them saying, I post them on internet & whole world could see you OR simply smile & say memorizing my trip OR are they least bothered about their privacy OR don't tell me you clicked it when they don't notice .

That lady at H5N1 looks like she volunteered for the job rather than making a life of the job. Did you get some info there? And was this virus cleaning activity carried out by our Indian govt?
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Old 2nd April 2010, 08:41   #38
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The Thimphu-P'Soling road is in a bad shape because they are being widened - earlier they were narrow 1.5 laners, now they are wide 2+ laners with good shoulders. Work has been on for some time. Otherwise, the road is excellent. In general, Bhutan has better roads than India, you must drive on the East-West highway from Thimphu to Trashigang to savour the lovely roads of Bhutan.
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Old 2nd April 2010, 08:46   #39
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BTW, the direct route from Rinchendeng to Gedu (the first large town) is 9 kms shorter than the one via Pasakha, but the shorter one is closed due to road widening.

I will get some feedback today from KSM-VTEC, who has driven from Bombay in his Santro and is leaving P'Soling today morning for Thimphu.
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Old 2nd April 2010, 09:03   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
earlier they were narrow 1.5 laners


Quote:
Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
In general, Bhutan has better roads than India
- may be due to the small area in size; also I see lots of automobile invasions from Korea in form of Hyundai & Kia, so hopefully there're aren't any much homegrown players.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
you must drive on the East-West highway from Thimphu to Trashigang to savour the lovely roads of Bhutan.
Yes, I wish to sometimes, somewhere in future (provided we survive 2012)

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Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
I will get some feedback today from KSM-VTEC, who has driven from Bombay in his Santro and is leaving P'Soling today morning for Thimphu.
If possible some pictures too Sir.
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Old 2nd April 2010, 14:52   #41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aargee View Post
Just one question, how did you manage to take pics of people & shops, especially the ones where they clear for H5N1 viruses? Wouldn't they object? Do you've to convince them saying, I post them on internet & whole world could see you OR simply smile & say memorizing my trip OR are they least bothered about their privacy OR don't tell me you clicked it when they don't notice .

That lady at H5N1 looks like she volunteered for the job rather than making a life of the job. Did you get some info there? And was this virus cleaning activity carried out by our Indian govt?
People and shops - no one objected, they were happy to pose for the camera. H5N1 cleaning - the pic was taken openly, no one objected (though they noticed the camera). And no, there is no bird flu worry on the Indian side - I guess we're more bothered with swine flu (H1N1) now!
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Old 2nd April 2010, 15:16   #42
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Some more random shots of the trip to Thimphu. Most pics are self-explanatory, and the last one shows the welcome gate to Thimphu - a bad shot in the low light from a moving car.

Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-dsc08669k80.jpg

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Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-dsc08723k80.jpg

Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-dsc08725k80.jpg
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Old 2nd April 2010, 23:38   #43
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We roll into Thimphu after 7 pm (BST). Norzin Lam is a street name I remember from travelogues by Sudipto-S-Team and hvkumar, and thanks to them, we head to that street. There are innumerable hotels on Norzin Lam, and the Hotel TT is one of the first ones we check out. Rooms available on the 3rd floor, and though not too bad at 500 INR/Nu., they are quite cramped for space. A half-hour of research and climbing up and down stairs (too expensive, too seedy, too small, too many floors to climb - the list included boutique hotels across the road like the Jumolhari and Dragon Roots @ 3000+ INR), we finally locate a hotel with rooms on the 2nd floor - the Hotel Yoedzer.
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-yoedzr1.jpg

A bit of bargaining later, we land ourselves a couple of "suite-rooms" @ Rs.900 - decently appointed, roomy, with a small ante-room attached.
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-ydzrrm1.jpg
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-ydzrrm2.jpg

The owner is one Mr. Kamal Pradhan, whom we have the opportunity to learn a lot about Bhutan from. He also runs eco-adventure tours in Bhutan, and is extremely apprehensive and mistrustful of Indians, who have cheated him on multiple occasions.
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-ydzrkamalk80.jpg

However, for us, his staff and he are delightfully helpful, and for the next two nights we feel quite comfortable there.
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-ydzr2.jpg
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-ydzr3.jpg

Rooms secured, we are now interested to locate and try some authentic Bhutanese food for dinner. A recommended place nearby is Bhutan Kitchen, located on the 2nd floor (the ladies are building up their tempers rather than their appetites by climbing all those steps).
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-bhukit.jpg
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-bhukit1.jpg

The food is a set menu served at the table with no limits on quantity, and includes the Bhutanese national dishes of ema datse (ima datshi) (chillies in cheese gravy) and kewa datse (kewa datshi) (potatoes in cheese gravy). There are no prizes for guessing which suits our tastes more. There's also 2 non-veg dishes to go, and 3 varieties of rice.
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-food1.jpg
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-food2.jpg
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-bhukit3.jpg

That's what happens if you indulge in too much ema datse
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-food3.jpg

An early morning peek through the window gets us our first sight of Thimphu in daylight.
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-ydzrview1.jpg
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-ydzrview1.jpg
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It looks so clean and green everywhere, so what's that pile of ugly trash doing at the corner?
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-trash1.jpg
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-trash2.jpg

Surprise! In a few minutes, along comes a garbage collection truck. It picks up the trash, and the guys not only clean and wash the road, they wash and brush the truck sparkling clean too!
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-traqsh3.jpg
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-trqsh4.jpg

Incidentally, elephants are revered in Bhutan, though not one live animal exists there. This is a rock formation that looks like an elephant, which can be seen on the highway leading to Thimphu - which is why this part of the highway cannot be widened, and re-routing the highway is being considered by the authorities.
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-thimphu-6k80.jpg
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Old 2nd April 2010, 23:57   #44
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hvkumar
I will get some feedback today from KSM-VTEC, who has driven from Bombay in his Santro and is leaving P'Soling today morning for Thimphu.
Our friend KSM-VTEC was not allowed inside Bhutan since they have stopped issuing visas till Apr 30, apparently because of some SAARC Summit going on in Thimphu

That was quite a disaster and seeing no way out, they went on to Shillong, which they reached an hour ago.

So much for the way small countries like Bhutan work. There is no intimation on any of their web-sites and can you imagine, what a waste of time it would have been for anyone else had he no alternative plans.

Last edited by hvkumar : 2nd April 2010 at 23:58.
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Old 3rd April 2010, 00:10   #45
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Our friend KSM-VTEC was not allowed inside Bhutan since they have stopped issuing visas till Apr 30, apparently because of some SAARC Summit going on in Thimphu

That was quite a disaster...
That is exactly what I had apprehensions about when you mentioned that KSM-VTec is driving his own car to Thimphu. I did mention the fact in a post of mine early on.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SS-Traveller View Post
...the decision not to take our car along was a good one, because Bhutan has stopped issuing permits to Indian vehicles for 45 days from 15 March 2010 onwards. So we could not possibly have driven ourselves to Thimphu, and would have needed to park the car at P'ling and take a Bhutan-reg. car there.
He could have gone ahead, however, in a Bhutan-reg. car, parking his own behind at P'ling where it would have been quite safe.

A note here for intending travellers: Bhutan closes its borders with India at 10pm BST (9:30 pm IST) to ALL vehicular traffic, whether Indian or Bhutanese registered, whether entering or exiting. The gates reopen at 6 am BST (5:30 am IST). Only emergency vehicles like ambulances are allowed across. Pedestrian traffic, esp. Indian citizens, entering Bhutan is also not allowed during this time.

Last edited by SS-Traveller : 3rd April 2010 at 00:11.
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