I can’t believe It’s been so long since the last blog post, time really flies. I am really sorry that I couldn’t write as promised. Anyway, I am back with the Bhutan tour details & I am sure you will love every bit of it. You guys already know how I managed the Indian transit visa as to cut the costing of the tour I went by road.

 

18th September(Day 1): We already booked our Bus ticket to Burimari on SR Shamoli. Which will start at 9 PM from Kollanpur Bus Stand, Dhaka. So, I along with my friend Neon we went there 1 hour before the bus leaves. As we were waiting I met with Sumon Bhai, Tawhid Bhai & Provel Bhai (The Wildest Bunch Ever!).

19th September (Day 2): We got on the bus and in the next morning around 7’0 clock, we reached Burimari Border. Our Bus Supervisor I forgot his name but he was the best supervisor I ever came across. He was so good to children’s and helpful to elderly ones. It felt like we were going on a family trip. The immigration office opens at 9.30 so we had to wait till then and we did our breakfast at Nanir Dokan. Which was the last desi khana we would have for next  5-6 days. My bad, I couldn’t eat much! I don’t know what happened, the food wasn’t good & i lost my appetite! So here are a few points you should take note of – Supervisor will do the travel tax payment but you have to pay him 50tk extra for that & also they will take care of the immigration process to make it a little easy. Not that it’s very hard or there’s a lot of people going through Burimari Border but still for the new people it might feel like a hassle. You have to pay the Custom police tk 100 for each person as a bribe.

So, We crossed the immigration at 11.00 am and put our feet on the Indian soil. Then the Indian immigration which is actually a lot easier. They take your photo, you sign in a book and off you go with your passport. The whole process takes around 30 minutes. Then you will be shown the way by the SR Shamoli Indian stuffs to the counter which is also the money exchange point and you better exchange your money here cause we didn’t see any money exchange point after this one and they give good rates. One more thing the bigger and new your note is the better rate you get for example a $100 dollar note will get more rate than a $50 one and if it’s an updated one say one from 2013 printed it will get more rate. Anyway don’t forget to count your money twice & your bags, carry them with you to the bus and keep the token SR Shamoli stuffs provided you on the Bangladesh side ( I lost it and it was a chaos but they were professional to understand and everything was fine).

Then we got on the bus waiting for us and told the supervisor that we will get down in Moinaguri to go to Bhutan. From there we took a TomTom and went Moinaguri Bazar (10 rupees per person). You will find a few taxi waiting there just talk to about the fare and do bargain as they ask for a lot of money first time. So we hired a Mahindra taxi for 8 people (two more people who were going to Bhutan they wanted to come with us as there was no bus & hiring a taxi by themselves will cost more) for a total of 2000 rupees. So, 250 rupees each. { here is a tip – if you find any taxi waiting outside the Indian immigration who are willing to go to Joyga try to hire them you might get them for less price}. It took us around 2.5 hours to reach Joyga via Hashimara. When we reached Joyga town we had to get departure seal from the Indian immigration which is just a few minutes walk from the Bhutan Gate. If you ask people around they will show you the way.  First, you will see a police/BSF standing outside the office go there put your name & details in the register book and sign. The rest of the process is same as before fill up the small form and go to the immigration officer. He will take your photo, check the documents and if everything is all ok you will get the departure seal. The office remains open until 4.30 PM & start at 7 AM. Then we had to hurry as we wanted to enter to Bhutan that day and go to Thimpu which normally takes around 5 hours+ also as the Bhutan immigration normally closes at 5/6 PM. ( though they said later it’s 8 PM but we couldn’t confirm which is correct).

It always rains in Phuntsholing. The gate that separates Bhutan from India and the town Joyga from Phuntsholing should be in front of you. Now you will your passport photocopy which i asked you to bring with you so you need to photocopy the form the Bhutan immigration people give you. ( It’s always raining in Phuntsholing so carry an umbrella if you don’t want to get wet). The immigration office is just beside the Fuel Station. The officer was really annoyed by us as he had to work longer than normal and he had a date with her Wife/GirlFriend and it was raining heavily. Now the same process you have to fill up the form, they will take your photo, enter your info in the computer and once they are done you will get entry permission seal. You need to keep in mind that – you will only get permission for Paro & Thimpu from here so if you want to go to Punakha then you have to get permission again from Thimpu. After we got the entry permission we went to have our much-waited lunch. I felt like it was an era we ate anything. So we went for lunch and boy I loved the lunch, We ordered Chicken Bhuna with Rice, Dal & Mix Vegetables. It was all in all Bengali dishes and good too.

Then I and Sumon bhai went to look for a taxi so that we can go to Thimpu. If you are too tired and don’t want to do your journey today then you can easily stay in a hotel and chill a bit. As there are a lot of Wine shops and bar around Phuntsholing town. Here’s a thing you will see when you enter Bhutan, The people are so nice, their roads are clean no noise! Yes, it’s like two side of a coin – The Joyga – Noisy, Lot’s of people, Pollution & Phuntsholing complete opposite. You just feel the change in your body. So as the others waited we went for taxi and it’s a little tricky. It was really hard to find the taxi station and as it was already 5.30 PM a lot of them weren’t interested in going. ( A piece of advice – when you go to the taxi station a lot of drivers will get around you ask them to hire them – few of them understands our language – also it’s more like syndicate in our country. So you will feel why the taxi fare is so high but stay on your ground and bargain). After around 20 minutes and a lot of bargain we did hire a Mahindra taxi for the six of us and yes if your group is too big then you will have a lot of problems. Don’t get too many people either 6( highest 7) or 4 in a taxi. It’s not that you should not go with bigger groups it’s just the more people the less space in the taxi and you are here to enjoy, relax, do sightseeing, take photos if there’s more than 6 in a Mahindra and more than 4 in a taxi it will be tough to take pictures and the whole tour might become a painful for you. We hired the taxi for 3700 rupees, so 617 rupees each.

At the first half, the journey will feel awesome. From the top of the mountain, the Phuntsholing town looks like stars of light and the roads will feel like Stairway to heaven! As you go up in the hills and the roads start to get Zig Zag you might get a headache, feel dizzy because of the high altitude. Don’t worry it’s a sickness that happens to the people who are not familiar with higher altitude. As the oxygen level decreases. (NO SMOKING! The consumption of tobacco is not altogether prohibited in Bhutan, though it is largely banned in places of public accommodation.)

We reached Thimpu at 12’o clock, We did our dinner in the middle of our journey at around 9 PM. When we reached Thimpu everything was almost closed and please try to book your hotel before you go there because we didn’t and we had a lot of problems because of that. Thanks to our taxi driver who helped us to book a hotel that time after a lot of hassle. After reaching our hotel is was already too cold outside so we just entered our hotel and didn’t bother much about anything other than sleeping.

I got up in the morning when Rakib bhai came to our room to call us. We got up and opened the window and there it was! The mighty mountain, blue clouds, a little sunshine coming through, cool breeze blowing my hairs what more do you want in your life?

 

So, we got ready and went to a restaurant nearby. We did have a restaurant below our hotel but it was too costly and we didn’t like the environment. Another thing is when you are traveling on a budget you need proper planning and not over spend. So we did our breakfast with Khichuri which didn’t have any spice! I and Neon tried the egg omelet and sandwich.I have some serious gastric issues so it’s really tough for me to eat anything in the morning. Then we came went to a shop and bought new Sim cards for us and came back to our hotel. We got ready and went to the get the permission documents needed for going to Punakha & Paro. While Sumon & Rakib Bhai were managing those things we started clicking some breaktaking photos around us.

You can check the full album at : https://www.facebook.com/eftykonick/media_set?set=a.1488795054469803.1073741837.100000179677666&type=3