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Old 28th May 2023, 13:33   #1
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Short drive to Bhutan in my Maruti 800 (SS80)

A freak opportunity came my way to take Hirohito on its very first international trip to Bhutan, albeit a very short one, to the border town of Gelephu.

I have been getting calls from Nagra and Sanmoni, both riders from Assam and friends of Bhutan Dragons MC. They had tagged along assisting the Bhutan Dragons Motorcycle Club on their ride to Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh.
The team had completed their tour of Arunachal and were in Gelephu now. Since I am the new office bearer of our club i.e. Bulls of Assam MC, the team from Bhutan Dragons extended their invitation and asked if I could join.

Since Kokrajhar (a town in western Assam), falls on the way to Gelephu, I thought it might be a good idea to bring my wife along, as Kokrajhar happens to be her hometown.

My SS80 hasnít been serviced since our return from Sela pass in Arunachal Pradesh last month. Here is a link to my travelogue from that trip https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/trave...-800-ss80.html (AMS in the land of the rising sun | Tawang in a Maruti 800 (SS80))

Short drive to Bhutan in my Maruti 800 (SS80)-img_4415.jpeg
I decided to get my hands dirty, cleaning the contact point, spark plugs and the air filter, followed by a quick wash at home.


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7.49 am. Our journey starts at 53801 kms.

Filled up the tank and we were cruising on NH17 heading towards the Naranarayan Setu over the Brahmaputra. It was still morning and the highway was comparatively empty and the air still fresh.

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Railway crossing at Deohati. Our plan is to stop at Kokrajhar, grab lunch at my wifeís home and then drive to Gelephu.

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Flaunting the newly arrived team bhp sticker!
Iíve been a regular on this route especially after I got married last year. But today is the first time that I was stopping here to take a photo.


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Got off NH17 and took the scenic route from Bahalpur towards Kokrajhar.

Reached Kokrajhar, grabbed lunch followed by a quick afternoon siesta.
Although Iíve been to Gelephu a decade ago, I cross checked the route once more.

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Route from Kokrajhar to Gelephu.

At 2.30 we left for Gelephu. Another friend was also heading from Kokrajhar and he invited us to join in his car. He was keen on taking his car as the road is dusty and he needed AC. But I couldnít drop the idea of Hirohito making its maiden road trip across an Ďinternational borderí. So we decided to catch up on the road somewhere, while taking separate cars.

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Compensating for travelling non AC. Roadside sugarcane juice, in the outskirts of Kokrajhar.

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Gelephu another 40 kms. Nagra who is in Gelephu, had given a fair warning that the road in the last 20 kms after Shantipur were going to be anything but smooth.

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Gelephu 10 kms

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Dusty. We are doing Ladakh later this year in the same car, sans AC.

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5 pm, we arrived at the Bhutan gate. Sanmoni and Nagra who had arrived yesterday, had exited Bhutan and we found them waiting for us on the Indian side at Dadgiri on their bikes.

According to a new rule that came in recently, Indians have been exempted from the mandatory fee, for the first 24 hours of their stay in Bhutan. So they both had to exit and re-enter in order to avoid paying the fee.
At the foreign entry counter, we deposited our Indian voter IDs and weíre given a temporary visitorís card each.

While looking at Google map at Kokrajhar, I was astonished at how big Gelephu looked even on a map. I had been here in 2011 and it was a small town at best. Now as we drove through semi-empty roads, we crossed one imposing structure after another, all well engineered hotels and offices. I am later told that Gelephu is a work-in-progress, a special economic zone, a planned city in the becoming.


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Our stay for the night. Bumthang to our right and Thimphu to our left.

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Bhutan Dragons MC, wrapping up a fun ride. Being a charity club, they had kept their day at Gelephu to distribute items to the needy.

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Got to drive this 1992 Land Cruiser belonging to one of the members of Bhutan Dragons MC. Note the sub fuel meter? This behemoth can carry upto 180 litres of fuel in its belly, as opposed to the meagre 24 litres that goes into Hirohito.

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Some exquisite hardware belonging to Bhutan Dragons MC.

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The next morning, Dragons loading up for their final day of ride from Gelephu to Thimphu.

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Sanmoni, Nagra and me.

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Sanmoni and Nagra behind us. We let them pass as we stopped to checkout the market.

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Re-entering India.

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As we took shelter from the sun and dust, an old generation OMNI wearing Bhutan plates, chugged along the dusty road at this place named Deosiri.

Reached Kokrajhar at noon, cooled down, spent the night at my in-laws and got ready the next morning for home. We wanted to reach home before the sun comes out blazing.

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The road leading to NH17, after last nightís thunderstorm.

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The only back up vehicle that Hirohito will ever want.

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The Choibari tea estate in the outskirts of Kokrajhar.

We then stopped at a roadside temple on NH17. Mother normally asks us to drop some change here. Since we didnít do that while going, we decided to do it now. As luck would have it, the kid who stays nearby saw our car and came to greet us.
We had met him last year when he had come running to my car while we had stopped here to drop some change.

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One year apart. Left 2023, right 2022

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We now crossed the Narnarayan Setu over the Brahmaputra. Only this time we looped under the bridge and went to check the construction of the new bridge thatís being built.

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The bridge from below.

We decided to continue on this detour instead of going back to NH17. The river now gave us constant company. This route used to be the only route back in the day. Before the bridge, when ferries were the only means of getting across the river.

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Relics from the past.

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On the way we crossed Surya Pahar which happens to be an ASI site, followed by Sainik School Goalpara, my alma mater.

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Our last pit stop at Nandeswar, just 10 minutes shy of home now.

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Reached home. Odometer reading 54176 kms. Total distance travelled 375 kms.

Last edited by Hirohito : 28th May 2023 at 19:44.
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Old 29th May 2023, 04:47   #2
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Re: Short drive to Bhutan in my Maruti 800 (SS80)

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 29th May 2023, 07:23   #3
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Re: Short drive to Bhutan in my Maruti 800 (SS80)

I love these adventures with your SS80!
Youíre doing what I could not accomplish in my firdt car the SS80 nearly 27 years ago.
Long may you Drive and Long may that humble little SS80 last!
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Old 29th May 2023, 09:14   #4
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Re: Short drive to Bhutan in my Maruti 800 (SS80)

Quote:
Originally Posted by shankar.balan View Post
I love these adventures with your SS80!
Youíre doing what I could not accomplish in my firdt car the SS80 nearly 27 years ago.
Long may you Drive and Long may that humble little SS80 last!
Thanks and happy to hear that! This SS80 is more like a go-anywhere motorcycle, only on four wheels.
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Old 29th May 2023, 16:44   #5
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Re: Short drive to Bhutan in my Maruti 800 (SS80)

Lovely thread and what a beautifully summed-up travelogue.
I am absolutely thrilled at how much use you put your little ss80 through and more so at how the car never disappoints. Such is the quality and reliability of even the most basic type of Japanese engineering. I am sure it will outlast you at this rate !

Great going
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Old 30th May 2023, 06:28   #6
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Re: Short drive to Bhutan in my Maruti 800 (SS80)

Quote:
Originally Posted by BeemerBug_06 View Post
Lovely thread and what a beautifully summed-up travelogue.
I am absolutely thrilled at how much use you put your little ss80 through and more so at how the car never disappoints. Such is the quality and reliability of even the most basic type of Japanese engineering. I am sure it will outlast you at this rate !

Great going
Thanks Nikhil. Although it might look like itís me who is putting the SS80 to use, in reality itís the other way around! Talk of kami or the Japanese idea of the spirit in everything. I had never intended to drive it the way I do now, when I had gotten the car. But Iím not complaining.

As for Japanese engineering that stood out for its reliability and longevity, Hirohito is a testimony to that.
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