Bhutan

02-10-2014

Date:  02nd oct – 11th oct 2014
Distance: 1300 km
Number of riders: 12
Route: New Jal pai guri – Siliguri – Darjeeling – Gangtok – Jaigaon – phuentsholing – Thimpu – Punakha – Paro – Thimpu – Siliguri

Royal Enfield Bike Trip to Bhutan —– Small corner of Heaven

Imagine this – A meandering road next to a stream of crystal clear water. Sun is pulling all tricks with the light in lush green mountains. There is enough beauty scattered around the countryside to last a lifetime of memories. And the locals whom you meet far and few are more than happy. You find them invariably ecstatic. It’s as if they have found their small corner of heaven.

The picture is not yet perfect. This is your first real bike trip, if one could forget the non-stop 16-hr ride from Bangalore to Goa. That was more on a whim and on an hour’s notice. Here, you have made some new friends whom you have just met. You don’t really know them. For that matter you don’t even know how to change the spark-plug of your bull. Or the fact that you should have carried some more clothes. Maybe we took the travelling light part too seriously.

We were a group of 12 with 9 bulls all gathering from all corners of the country – Delhi, Pune, Kolkata, and Bangalore. The group itself was unique with all sorts of personalities – complete extroverts to introverts, novices like us to veterans of tens of rides. With such variety there wasn’t a single moment of boredom. Special mention is due for the ladies for they were most cooperative.

The plan was to start from Siliguri and make way via Darjeeling to Gangtok to Thimpu. Technically with 2 countries that’s a lot to cover but with a great company and with Manish at helm, it turned out to be much easier and enjoyable.  The road from Siliguri to Darjeeling is crowded and honestly the toy-train is not as romantic as it must have been. One of the key points of interest in Darjeeling is Tiger hill. It is secluded with breathtaking views of the Darjeeling valley. The road to Gangtok is a mixed bag, but the closer we got to Sikkim’s capital, we found the traffic sparse and more disciplined. Gangtok itself is more like a medium sized Indian hill station, frequented by multitudes of Indians, particularly during holiday season. We spent our first night breaking ice, on the roof-top under a starry sky with a brilliant view of the city.

We entered Bhutan from Jaigaon in India. We met our guide – Needup who was most helpful throughout the trip. It took us less than an hour to get the entry permits on the border and we were good to go. Interestingly, the roads are much better in Bhutan, and the traffic more disciplined. The best roads are the last 50km before Thimpu and the Paro-Thimpu stretch. The climb to Tiger’s nest is not the easiest but a must do.

Bhutan must be the most tourist friendly country and to top it they extend special treatment to Indians. It’s important to note that they take their happiness, royalty, traffic rules and chillies very seriously, in that order. These are definitely a few things that we as a nation could learn from them and good liquor is just another of them. Beers (Danzberg) and local whiskies (Bhutan Highland, K5) are top notch at dirt price. The latter gives a run for money to most of Indian brands.

Highlight of the trip was the return ride(Thimpu – Siliguri) when we crunched the 5 hours inside of 3.5 before hitting the border, with perfect weather to twist the throttle. After almost 10days, with a sense of nostalgia we said goodbye to the awesome group of riders and to our small corner of heaven. Till we meet again!

By: Vikrant Rana
www.facebook.com/rana.vkr

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