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Old 3rd April 2010, 18:17   #61
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Originally Posted by rideon View Post
An absolutely marvellous travelogue indeed! Like v&v mentioned let's get meetup and gather some more insight to the trip
Thanks, rideon. Meetup possible anytime you guys are in the vicinity.

And finally, at the end of the 23rd March night, a good dinner.

We find this nice little restaurant that serves Indian food, near our hotel. We walk in

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and what's the first thing we see? A cat sprawled out on the counter, warming itself on top of the computer monitor!

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The menu seemed reasonably priced...

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...and contains enough of Indian food, esp. Bong stuff to please us,

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but my preference is for thukpa and momos.

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The lady makes good alur dom and roti, but the thukpa and momos are good too. We learn about the thukpa with round noodles, and another choice with flat noodles. A third type contains macaroni-style bits.

We get to chatting, and discover the secret behind the lady's culinary abilities in serving up good Indian food. Mrs. Tendi has lived in Kolkata for a long time, having studied in the Assembly of God School and is an English (Hons.) graduate from the Bhowanipur Education Society.

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Note: If you don't ask specifically for cold water, you will be usually served warm to hot water to drink in most places in Bhutan and Sikkim!

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Old 3rd April 2010, 20:06   #62
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Ham Bugger & Cheese Bugger??? - ; The roti & side dish looks yummy
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Old 3rd April 2010, 22:29   #63
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Wednesday, 24th March, 2010:

Today we go to Paro in the morning, and drive down from there to Phuentsholing in the evening. The direct road from Gedu to P'ling opens to traffic from 4 pm, and we intend to take advantage of that to avoid driving through the bad sections via Dala and Pasakha.

Our driver is dressed in the traditional gho today, though he keeps complaining that he feels hot when dressed like this.
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But first, a quick round of Thimphu once again.
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On the beautifully smooth road to Paro from Thimphu, we come across this crashed Santa Fe. The white bit stuck to it is the sheet metal from the door of an Alto, which was practically totalled, and parked across the road - couldn't get a picture of that.
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On the way to Paro...
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...we stop to admire this:
Quote:
Kyichu Lhakhang is one of the oldest temples in Bhutan with its magic orange tree that bears fruit all year round. The temple claims to have the only orange tree in Paro, and the picking of fruit from the tree is strictly prohibited.
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The road carries on along the Paro River and past the airport...
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...until we come to Paro,

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the entrance to the town being dominated by this imposing structure.
Quote:
Paro Dzong is one of the first Dzongs that visitors see on arrival by plane into Bhutan. It is also known as the Rinpung Dzong which means a “fortress that sits on a heap of jewels”. This imposing dzong located above the Paro river is a fine example of Bhutanese architecture with its inward sloping walls that rise to an impressive height.
The dzong was built in the 16th century on the foundation of a monastery built by Guru Rinpoche.
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To translate: A dzong is a monastery, a chorten (or choerten) is a stupa, a chhu is a river, a lam is a street.
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Old 3rd April 2010, 22:49   #64
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We drive through the main street of Paro, which reminds me vaguely of a set from an old Wild West movie...

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...past paddy fields and up a narrow road...

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...to the Paro National Museum.

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From that location one gets an astounding bird's eye view of Paro town, though photography is prohibited inside the museum itself.

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What surprises me is the cobwebs embellishing this tree, giving it a very Christmassy look.

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Old 3rd April 2010, 22:54   #65
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One word: Inviting.

Need to start planning !
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Old 4th April 2010, 06:03   #66
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The birds eye view is awesome. But why are tourists charged more? Shouldn't it be charged normal or slightly above normal? I don't see a point other than they don't want to let in the tourists inside. Any idea why?
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Old 4th April 2010, 08:32   #67
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Doc,
T'log shaping up will. Btw what are the popular Cars and Suv in Bhutan ?
Saw Hyundai Vehicles more in photos.

v&v
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Old 4th April 2010, 08:54   #68
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Quote:
The birds eye view is awesome. But why are tourists charged more? Shouldn't it be charged normal or slightly above normal? I don't see a point other than they don't want to let in the tourists inside. Any idea why?
If you visit Agra or Jaipur, you will see the answer why - the way we rip off foreign tourists, why not Bhutan too!


Quote:
Originally Posted by v&v View Post
Doc,
T'log shaping up will. Btw what are the popular Cars and Suv in Bhutan ?
Saw Hyundai Vehicles more in photos.

v&v
Santro and Alto are the most popular small cars
Lots of Hyundai Getz cars.
The Hyundai Santa Fe and Toyota Landcruiser are the most popular SUVs.
Apart from lots of Toyota Hilux pick-ups, the Mahindra Getaway is preferred by the Govt of Bhutan all over the country, especially its MInistry of Agriculture. I am sure M&M sells almost its entire production of Getaways in BHutan.
It is mostly mini-buses, and they are normally Toyotas and Nissans.
Heavier trucks are normally Tatas. With Al also getting a share of the tipper/dumper business.
No autorickshaws.
Mobikes are rare, many Indian ones like Hero Honda.
I did not see fancy limousines in Bhutan, it is the SUVs which are popular in the higher segments.

Last edited by hvkumar : 4th April 2010 at 08:55.
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Old 4th April 2010, 09:14   #69
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If you visit Agra or Jaipur, you will see the answer why - the way we rip off foreign tourists, why not Bhutan too!
I think that fare is a legal one imposed by govt isn't it? And our people are ripping foreign tourists in the name of 10Rs = $10 in Agra & Jaipur. Sir, I don't get the point on how this is justifiable by Bhutan govt?
PS - Why alone foreign tourist & Agra/Jaipur? One can find all atrocities in good old Chennai & especially when it comes to Mahabalipuram.

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No autorickshaws.
Aaah!!! what a wonderful land to live; The Bhutan govt is providing social security to people.
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Old 4th April 2010, 09:36   #70
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Bhutan is quite a country!

I was there in Bhutan last year just after their first elections. Every village square, there is a notice board - candidates standing for election are allowed to put up one notice each in that notice board only, and nowhere else! And indeed that was the way it was.

The only cinema hall tat is there in the Norzim la in Thimphu screens Bhutan movies - yes, there is small industry there too!

Maybe you did not know, but when I visited Bhutan in 1994, there were no TVs in the country in the name of cultural protection. It is only in the last 2-3 years - after the current monarch came to the throne - that TV is allowed.

....and the dress rules are relaxed too (earlier, all had to mandatorily wear the national costume, now I think it is only those who work for Govt have to mandatorily wear it).

Bhutan is strongly dependent on India:
- Road links only with India
- Export of power (80% of their forex earnings) only to India
- Fuel is sold by IOC, HPCL and BPCL
- All imported stuff comes only through India
- Indian Army mans the frontiers too with China
- The P'Soling-Thimphu and Samdrup Jhonkar-Trashigang roads are maintained by Indian Army's BRO

As usual, there are several immigrant workers from India working in Bhutan at various construction sites.

While I was in Trashigang (East Bhutan), I met the local RTO cheif (called the RSTA in Bhutan). Surprisingly, he had visited many parts of India, often driving his own car to even places like Kolkata. Needless to say, they sneer at the way Indians drive, their lack of road manners and indiscipline, and rightly so. In Bhutan, cars don't honk, maintain lanes, do not break Qs, use turn indicators and generally drive in a civilised manner. The RSTA offices that I visited in P'Soling and Thimphu were way ahead of the squalour and confusion that you see in India although they are also like any Govt offices.

The bus stand in Thimphu is well-organised - proper bus bays, signages, etc - and private bus operators outshout each other trying to sell seats.

I had to visit the Immigration Offices and RSTAs in P'Soling and Thimphu, and I found the staff courteous, helpful and pretty quick in their work. In P'Soling, my permit at Immigration was over in under 90 minutes and the RSTA took 30 more minutes. However, in Thimphu, the permits took almost the whole day (9 am - 3 pm) since the chief who was to sign the permits was away in a "meeting". When I did have to meet him in person, he was extremely courteous, perfunctorily sought my confirmation and signed off immediately. No agents and touts anywhere in evidence for at least such petty tasks the public has to do in a Govt office.

In the main Norzim la in Thimphu, cars slide into parking bays silently, there are young boy-parking attendants (no child labour laws here!?) and you are levied a parking charge against which tickets are issued.
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Old 4th April 2010, 09:42   #71
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ampere View Post
One word: Inviting.
Thank you. Bhutan has been a lovely experience, more so when contrasted on our return to WB. Will talk about it subsequently.

Quote:
Originally Posted by aargee View Post
But why are tourists charged more?
Bhutan's economy depends greatly on two things - their tourism, and their sale of electricity to India from the hydel projects.

However, Bhutan tries very hard to keep a balance between earnings from tourism and being overrun by tourists which they apprehend would ruin their ecological balance. Therefore non-Bhutanese tourists are charged a bigger amount for everything. For example, if you had to fly in to Paro, there must be at least one flight (in or out) on Druk Air - and that costs much higher than other airlines.

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I don't get the point on how this is justifiable by Bhutan govt?
I hope that clarifies things. A population of only 7 lakh people spread thinly over such a huge area makes for a very beautiful country. Indian logic shouldn't be forced on them - ever.
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Old 4th April 2010, 09:50   #72
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
candidates standing for election are allowed to put up one notice each in that notice board only, and nowhere else!
Poor candidates, don't know how to earn money in politics (pun intended)

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Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
The only cinema hall tat is there in the Norzim la in Thimphu screens Bhutan movies - yes, there is small industry there too!
I'm sure they would be much better to watch & may be like Indian cinema in 50's & 60's.

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Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
there were no TVs in the country in the name of cultural protection.
Very true, it really protects the culture.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
It is only in the last 2-3 years - after the current monarch came to the throne - that TV is allowed.
With this the culture will start detiorate

Quote:
Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
In Bhutan, cars don't honk, maintain lanes, do not break Qs, use turn indicators and generally drive in a civilised manner. The RSTA offices that I visited in P'Soling and Thimphu were way ahead of the squalour and confusion that you see in India although they are also like any Govt offices.

The bus stand in Thimphu is well-organised - proper bus bays, signages, etc - and private bus operators outshout each other trying to sell seats.

I found the staff courteous, helpful and pretty quick in their work

In the main Norzim la in Thimphu, cars slide into parking bays silently, there are young boy-parking attendants (no child labour laws here!?) and you are levied a parking charge against which tickets are issued.
God!!! looks like this country is light years behind to catch up on civic sense

A country that is 80% dependant upon India is doing much better is really to me

Quote:
Originally Posted by SS-Traveller View Post
A population of only 7 lakh people spread thinly over such a huge area makes for a very beautiful country. Indian logic shouldn't be forced on them - ever.
Yes, I got the point & agree that Indian logic cannot be applied.

Last edited by aargee : 4th April 2010 at 09:53.
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Old 4th April 2010, 10:20   #73
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Quote:
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The only cinema hall tat is there in the Norzim la in Thimphu screens Bhutan movies - yes, there is small industry there too!
There are 3 cinema halls in the whole of Bhutan - one in P'ling, two in Thimphu, all having one show on weekdays and 2 shows on weekends. No Bollywood movies.
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-parob-12k80.jpg
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God!!! looks like this country is light years behind to catch up on civic sense

A country that is 80% dependant upon India is doing much better is really to me

Yes, I got the point & agree that Indian logic cannot be applied.
India is also dependent on Bhutan to keep a buffer country between itself and China, and therefore tries hard to keep Bhutan happy. Bhutan's people are a self-satisfied lot with very few requirements, and it is the only country in the world where "gross national happiness" is an index!
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Old 4th April 2010, 10:59   #74
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I guess less movies, TV's, requirements attributes to more happiness; I'm getting to know many things from both of you Doc & HVK Sir; Appreciate your knowledge on sharing with us.

So did you get a chance to see any movie trailer or some ads? How're they? Pls share some of your experiences with Bhutanese schools, colleges & the student-teacher relations, if you've visited them.
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Old 4th April 2010, 11:00   #75
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Default Paro to P'ling

Our visit to the Paro museum is over. In front is another new building with a photo gallery of the royalty of Bhutan - again, no pics. The first floor has some government offices, all with matching curtains.
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-paroa-0k80.jpg

A carpenter sits in the middle, doing some work, unmindful of the camera.
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We drive back to the main road, looking for a spot of lunch...
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...and drop into this minimal restaurant.
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The owner is a humble gent with a degree in engineering, who used to work for Bhutan's forest department, until he gave up his job and went into business for himself. He stays in a 3-bedroom flat upstairs from the restaurant, for which he pays a princely sum of Nu. 4000 per month as rent!
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The following picture, to me, is the epitome of Bhutan. The building up in the hills to the left is the National Museum, representing Bhutan's history. The large building to the right is the Paro Dzong, representing Bhutan's religiosity. And the 3 Prados parked alongside each other represent Bhutan's wealth.
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-paroa-11k80.jpg

Lunch over, we start back on our way to P'ling, until we are stopped 4 km after Tsimasham by a humongous traffic jam.

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Interesting fact: Bhutanese men can marry multiple times by law, but the first wife has to agree to the next marriages. Without the first wife's consent, the other marriages are not acceptable.
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