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Old 27th August 2010, 20:43   #76
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Originally Posted by San Phrangmung View Post
Map:

Sutripta, I also feel that if we the travellers can manage to use our locational data in some sort of common platform, we can have our very own and authentic router.
Great. So lets get down to work!

I wouldn't want to bore people with nittygritties. So we have to keep it off forum.

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Sutripta
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Old 27th August 2010, 20:52   #77
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Thanks it seems i won't be able to make a same day return journey to Trashigang. I think uphill it will take 7 to 8 hours for me. For now will just touch Samdrup soon.
You will also have to take into account the time taken to get permits issued for yourself and the car at the border. No idea how efficient this border post is. In Phuntsoling, it can take 2-3 hours.

I did not find the border guys as friendly as they were in P'ling.
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Old 27th August 2010, 23:31   #78
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Great. So lets get down to work!

I wouldn't want to bore people with nittygritties. So we have to keep it off forum.

Regards
Sutripta
Ok let me know how to go about it. I have installed Sportstracker, let me know how to use it.

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You will also have to take into account the time taken to get permits issued for yourself and the car at the border. No idea how efficient this border post is. In Phuntsoling, it can take 2-3 hours.

I did not find the border guys as friendly as they were in P'ling.
Ah Namlang was easy that way, just a token in minutes. I think this outpost is strict because of law an order problem in the area. Lets see how it goes, i am concerned about the journey our side of border as well.
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Old 28th August 2010, 08:28   #79
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Ah Namlang was easy that way, just a token in minutes. I think this outpost is strict because of law an order problem in the area. Lets see how it goes, i am concerned about the journey our side of border as well.
The road from Samdrup Jhonkar via Darranga and Tamulpur looks like a war zone with army guys all over the place patrolling the roads and the villages en route. Despite all that, you will be stopped from time to time by youth and kids wanting money for some reason or the other - they stand in groups in the middle of the road and stop all vehicles.

I hope the road is better now, last year from Darranga to Tamulpur the road was non-existent for over 20 kms.
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Old 28th August 2010, 11:35   #80
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Well, if you think driving 3,000 kms one way from Bangalore to reach the Bhutan border is easy...........
hehehe you know what I meant. But if like minded souls get together, you never know
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Old 28th August 2010, 12:27   #81
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Default Op All Clear: Bhutan's step for regional sequrity

Any future visitor to the region should read this article by Anand Kumar in "The Kathmandu Post":

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In recent times, friendly relations enjoyed by India and Bhutan had been affected due to
the terrorist camps set up in the Bhutanese territory by some of the insurgent groups operating in Assam and North Bengal. These terrorist groups had adopted the hit and run tactic against civilians, military and other vital economic installations. The security agencies of India were feeling handicapped as the rebels used to flee into the neighboring territory after striking their targets inside India.
Bhutan has tried to rectify this situation by starting a crackdown on these elements. This step is also likely to improve the general security environment in the area as these terrorists were earlier moving freely between India, Bangladesh and Bhutan due to porous border, which is difficult to seal completely.
Three terrorist groups, United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) and Kamatapur Liberation Organisation (KLO) were operating from their 30 well-fortified camps along the entire southern region comprising four districts of Bhutan. Their total strength was estimated to be in excess of 3,000. Located in difficult jungle terrain, these camps were usually guarded by a series of outposts and land mines. Though some of these camps were dismantled to honour the December 2001 deadline, it later turned out to be farce as they were merely shifted elsewhere.
Bhutan was not taking any action against these groups for fear of reprisals against its citizens. But, the activity of the terrorists inside its territory was also affecting its economy and development process. It gave a number of ultimatums to insurgents to wind up their camps and leave peacefully with goodwill. The last such ultimatum appeared in its national daily, Kuensel, on December 13. When even this ultimatum was treated with scorn, the long overdue and legitimate Bhutanese military offensive against all the three militant groups began on December 15. Had Bhutan not acted this time, it would have meant a serious compromise with its sovereignty over the areas where terrorists had established their camps.
To flush out the terrorists and restore its control over the area, the Royal Bhutan Army (RBA), personally led by the King of Bhutan Jigme Singye Wangchuk and his son, started military action against all the camps of these militants in southern district of Samtse, Kalikhola sub-district, Sarpang, Nganglam sub-district, Samdrup Jongkhar, Bhagtar sub-district and Daifam sub-district.
The aim of the RBA operation was to destroy camps and seize weapons so that the militants cannot regroup there in the future. Operation All Clear has managed to smash all the 30 well-fortified camps of the three terrorist outfits having bases in Bhutan. The RBA has also killed about 120 terrorists holed up in these bases. RBA has also either captured or killed a number of senior ULFA leaders. It has managed to capture Bening Rabha, who was ‘major’ in charge of the ULFA’s western camps in Bhutan. Important ULFA leaders, Buragohain, Apurba Deka, Satish Hazarika and Ranjit Hazarika, were also killed.
Though the Bhutanese action has not completely removed the terrorist threat, it has done a serious damage to their infrastructure. Many of them have either fled to Bangladesh or sneaked to India. They might strike back when the pressure is reduced.
However, the ease with which terrorists used to operate earlier will not be there. Previously, the Bhutanese people used to ignore the presence of these elements as the state was in negotiation and wanted them to leave peacefully and with goodwill. But that did not happen and Bhutan was forced to resort to military action.
The action against the terrorists has stirred the whole nation. Now, not only the state and its law enforcing agencies but also common citizens want them to leave. The people of the state are now organizing meetings and persuading their acquaintances to participate in the operation. They are also collecting funds and seem determined to act against the terrorists. Clearly, now onwards, Bhutanese would not be apathetic but hostile towards the militants.
The ULFA appears to have lost appeal in its heartland. Earlier, when the ULFA leaders were arrested, womenfolk of an entire village would rush to the police station or the army camp to demand their release. But now, hardly anyone seems concerned. A number of cadres of these groups are deserting, after being disillusioned by the luxurious lifestyle of their leaders in neighbouring South Asian cities. Women cadres are leaving due to the tough jungle life, lack of bare minimum privacy and facilities in the camps. They also complain of shabby treatment by their male counterparts.
The ideological base of the insurgent groups has been wiped out by recent government initiatives. A memorandum of settlement has been signed between the central government of India and the Bodo Liberation Tigers (BLT) resulting in the formation of the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC). Following this settlement, 2,623 BLT cadres laid down their arms on December 6 this year, signaling the end of 17 years of armed struggle. A large number of cadres, belonging to the other major Bodo groups, NDFB, have also surrendered showing a desire for peace among the Bodo community.
The Bhutanese crackdown appears to have shattered the morale of the insurgents. A total of 90 militants, belonging to leading insurgent outfits of the Northeast, surrendered before the army, within a day after the launch of the operation in Bhutan. The surrendered militants belonged to the ULFA, NDFB, National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) and All Tripura Tiger Force (ATTF). They also laid down weapons. The insurgents have now left their camps and are on the run. They have requested Bhutan for a cease-fire. In a letter to Bhutan’s King, ULFA Chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa appealed for a cessation of the offensive, citing the “historical bonds” of the kingdom with northeast India. But, on the basis of its past experience of dealing with these groups, Bhutan has rejected this request.
The end of militant camps in Bhutan, however, does not mean the end of militancy, as there are camps in Bangladesh also. Though Bangladesh claims that it has sealed it borders after the crackdown on the terrorists, it is strongly believed that a number of ULFA militants could have slipped out to that country even before the offensive began. These cadres were already sensing trouble since quite some time, as a large number of their fellow members were arrested or killed in Goalpara and Dhubri districts of Assam during the past two or three months by security forces.
Among the arrested also figured Pranati Deka, cultural secretary of the ULFA. She was arrested in October in Goalpara while trying to sneak to Bangladesh along with two other members of her group. The steps taken by Bhutan are likely to have long-term impact on the terrorist and insurgent groups in the region and on the terror campaign being run by them. Though the crackdown may not completely remove the threats posed by the rebels, it will definitely weaken their firepower. The erosion of their popular base has seriously affected their resolve to carry anti-state activities from the neighbouring territories.
Cross-border terrorism is a serious issue in South Asia. Bhutan has tried to set a novel example by taking a step for regional security. This other countries should also emulate this, if the region desires to experience peace and develop economically.
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Old 28th August 2010, 12:51   #82
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Her's a link to a nice travelogue by Priyank Thatte to the Himalayan Kingdom:

Bhutan: Mystic Druk Yul : Travel Blog
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Old 29th August 2010, 11:33   #83
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One interesting thing I would like to share is, I have seen currency notes of Bhutan in circulation in the North Bengal, Siliguri and nearby places. Its as if it is indian currency, its all acceptable!

This was quite a while ago, dunno the present scene though!

Nice travelouge nonetheless!!
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Old 29th August 2010, 15:46   #84
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One interesting thing I would like to share is, I have seen currency notes of Bhutan in circulation in the North Bengal, Siliguri and nearby places. Its as if it is indian currency, its all acceptable!

This was quite a while ago, dunno the present scene though!

Nice travelouge nonetheless!!
Being the same value, the Indian Rupee and the Bhutan Nu are freely exchanged all over in Bhutan and in the districts immediately adjoining Bhutan - and in towns upto Chalasa, Alipurduar, Bongaigaon and Rangiya.

Therefore, you do not have to exchange currencies, except that you must use up all your Nus before you return home to India!

However, remember that Rs 1,000 notes are not accepted by most establishments and even Rs 500 notes are discouraged in most parts of Bhutan, primarily because of the high degree of counterfeit notes in circulation.
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Old 29th August 2010, 17:35   #85
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Bhutanese national can enter India whenever they feel like in their trucks, bike, car, bus whatever and stay as much as they wish anywhere in the country, no questions asked.
Even at places where Indian nationals are stopped and checked by the state police, Army, CRPF, CISF, SSB etc, Bhutanese national and their vehicles are allowed to go.

Indians however has to go through various levels of harresment in the hands of Government of Bhutan before they are allowed, if at all to enter a particular point of Bhutan for specific period. Bhutanese can go anywhere in India anytime but Indians are not allowed to enter Bhutan unless a human pemit, road permit, special / restricted area permit etc are made, that also from few particular places in Bhutan on weekdays only, location wise some of which are impractical for Indians living in certain states.

A person from Indian state of Assam has to go all the way to Phultshiling near Siliguri in West Bengal to make a permit for visiting even Deothang near Samdrup Jongkhar which is just 118 km's or three & a half hour drive from Guwahati. And roads in Assam are filled with Bhutanese vehicles and nationals at all times. Bhutias come to Guwahati for trade as well as treatment in many of the city's hospitals every day without any restrictions, therefore its humiliating to be treated the way the Bhutan Government treats subjects of India wishing to visit the otherwise beautiful kingdom.

After experiencing todays unacceptable behavior by the Bhutanese Government officials at the Samdrup Jonghar entrance gate near Rangiya, i wish that the Indian Government review their policy towards unrestricted entry and stay of Bhutanese subject and vehicles into its territory.

Ps. This is very much a travel related topic as i write these words after denying entry into Bhutan.
I think Samdrup Jhonkar is a terrible check post, and I too had the only bad experience in Bhutan there. But since I was exiting Bhutan through Samdrup, I did not face any problems. The check posts at Phuntsoling and other parts of Bhutan are manned by very polite and courteous officials/ policemen and I had no problems at all. I think the Samdrup Jhonkar problems may be due to the intense Bodo/ULFA activity in the Indian side, whereby the Bhutanese vehicles travel only in convoy escorted by the Indian Army for fear of attacks by the "terrorists".

I always advise those visiting Bhutan to enter through the P'Soling for this reason since that entry route is well-established and most popular. I believe Samdrup check post was opened up only in the last 2-3 years or so.

In the rest of Bhutan, apart from the permits, I was never asked for a single other document (other than driving license, which was listed as the personal ID document), and not a single money in bribe. In contrast, the moment you re-enter India, cops whistle after you and shoo you down to extort bribes.

I met a guy in Trashigang who has driven in many parts of India in his BT-registered car and his tales were no different from any that we hear or experience - petty extortion by Indian cops.

San, waiting to hear of your trip experiences.

Last edited by hvkumar : 29th August 2010 at 17:37.
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Old 29th August 2010, 18:53   #86
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HvK the escort days are a thing of the past. There were no area covering or security forces anywhere between Samdrup and Rangiya and further.

Its totally safe now as even a seasoned truck driver who's regular on this route said so.
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Old 29th August 2010, 21:15   #87
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Originally Posted by San Phrangmung View Post
Has India been not a little too good to the Bhutia's given how they treat Indians who wish to visit Bhutan as a tourist?

........

Wake up India, Bhutan might be small and the Bhutias even smaller, but they are a shrude people and making a mokery of our country and countrymen.

Ps. This is very much a travel related topic as i write these words after denying entry into Bhutan.

The otherwise positive journey pictures coming up.
Hi,
I have been visiting Bhutan on and off for many years. (And this does not include the innumerable times we went to P'soling for lunch). Haven't used Sandrup though.

I can understand your frustration, but I must put it on record that I totally disagree with you when it comes to my impressions about Bhutan. The bureaucracy there is slightly on the slow side, but works by the book. But otherwise perfect gentlemen. And a smile goes a long way. If you are entitled to a permit, you will get it without any 'speed money' or adoption of any special means. The pace of work might leave something to be desired, but we are also used to 'lahey lahey'.

Bhutanese truckers (essentially bringing oranges) from Sarpang/ Galephu are all easy targets for all sort of petty extortion when they travel through India.

Bhutan consciously does not encourage mass tourism. e.g. At USD 200 (or is it 250 now?) a day, it is also expensive (thankfully not applicable to Indians). But it is not a moneymaking scheme. It is to keep the bratpack out.

What caused the problem, the permit for the person, or permit for the car?

BTW, I hope you made the most of your trip by returning via Nalbari and Hajo.

Regards
Sutripta
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Old 29th August 2010, 22:51   #88
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The Chinese are doing some superman stuff on the other side of the border and also in Nepal and POK. Superfast highways and all-weather roads, etc. The only reasons why Bhutan is friendly with India are:
- Buddhism, they cannot team up with communist China
- landlocked, total dependence on India for all needs
- exports are only to India, especially of hydel power

Indians are generally disliked in Bhutan because they are most exposed to labourers who toil on their highways and construction sites. Poor labourers can never be cultural ambassadors or the best practitioners of etiquette or way of life, so I find generally a contempt for Indian poverty and servility. You can see ample evidence of this everywhere in Bhutan, but for us tourists, we get lots of respect and good service.

On a couple of times, I was reminded to follow proper parking rules, etc, with the statement that "This is not India, behave yourselves", despite that I was dotting the i s and crossing the t s.

I found more hostility within India - in Arunachal, the police ask me whether I am form "India" and remind me that they are not unkempt or disorganised like in India. I got similar treatment with Mizoram too. The manner in which Indians have to obtain permits to go anywhere in Arunachal, Mizoram, Nagaland or Manipur accentuates the divide.
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Old 29th August 2010, 23:50   #89
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Our country is strange. We Indian nationals need permits to go anywhere, but then terror elements from across border roam around freely!
Already there's a lot of not like in India feeling cropping up in the north east and kashmir.
I'm also reading up on Baltistan being given to China on a platter and our ministry is sitting silent contemplating what or whether to say.
Sorry about the OT
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Old 30th August 2010, 00:03   #90
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All ots are welcome here.
Right, the Chinese are building huge huge infrastrure connecting self made military cum commercial port in Myanmar, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

So basically our country is surrounded by the biggest threat.
Slowly but surely China is going to control everything in Myanmar and Bangladesh and be in control of Northern areas.

Our dream of having the Iran pipeline is also being hijacked by China.

So no wonder India could't have a honorable deal with even tiny Bhutan when it comes to its citizen wishing to visit the kingdom.

I also stand for Israel, and look at how strong and pro active their government is.

Our are just busy naming buildings, roads and stadiums in dead politicians name, pity.
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