How it all started?
Bhutan was definitely in my To-Do list since a couple of years. When my friend and myself were discussing about trips on a weekday afternoon, she suggested Bhutan. Initially, we two planned to visit and started searching for tourism info on many blogs. I was hanging out with my college friends a lot those days and asked them if they can join. Few said yes and yay 😁 we started planning 📝. We are 6 people now. What happens next?
Yes! a Whatsapp group named “Bhutan 😍”. Myself, Sudha (Bangalore), Srujana (College friend), Akhilesh (College friend), Aashray and Vijay (Akhilesh’s friends). We took the mobile numbers of drivers from a blog and discussed fare with them. We had finalized with Rajesh Pradhan (9775297976) for Rs. 27,500 for 5 days.
We can go to Bhutan either by road or by flight. We had chosen to go by road as it is cheaper to commute from Bagdogra to Pheuntsholling by road. If you are not a fan of road trips, then flying to the Paro airport can be lot easier for you. We took a flight from Hyderabad to Bagdogra and travelled from road there on. I know it’s a terrible plan with lots of travelling on road.
Bagdogra to Pheuntsholling: 163 km
Pheuntsholling to Thimpu: 164 km
Thimpu to Punakha: 85 km
Punakha to Paro: 126 km
Paro to Pheuntsholling: 155 km
Pheuntsholling to Siliguri: 154 km
“Wow! We are going to cover a lot in these five days” I thought.
Bhutanese accepts and offers Indian currencies at every place. I mostly carried currencies worth 500 and below which I could easily use during my stay there. People traveling from countries outside India can convert your currencies either to Indian or the Bhutanese currency.
We started early in the morning by 5 AM. Packed few warmer clothes just in case. Initially, I was proud about myself that my bag is lighter than everyone’s luggage. But realized lately that I haven’t packed proper winter gear with me. I, Akhilesh and Aashray took a direct cab to the airport. My mom woke up with me that morning and prepared Upma to carry for breakfast. When the cab arrived in front of my home, Mom wished me “Happy journey”. I hugged her and left in hurry. We reached airport early, checked in our luggage.
Fortunately, our 3 seats were allocated together even though we booked at different times.
Within couple of hours, we reached Bagdogra airport and met Sudha who travelled from Bangalore to Bagdogra. I introduced my friends to her and we started waiting for Rajesh’s Cab 🚕. Bagdogra airport wasn’t neat. Facade seemed more like a railway station than an airport. They put up lottery posters to the airport walls. Washrooms were unhygienic. It started drizzling while we were waiting for the vehicle. As soon as the vehicle arrived, I occupied the front seat 💺 😅. Who wants to miss the drive with a view?
We started to Pheuntsholling and reached by 5 PM. We had packed food on our way. I have to admit that the Tomato pickle which is brought by Vijay is the best pickle I ever had. We also bought masks on the way as we started hearing about Corona a lot these days. Driver stopped at a small hotel on the way to Phuentsholing for nature calls. That climate is forcing the nature to call multiple times 🤣. Those washrooms were horrible. We didn’t understand why the driver has to stop at this restaurant despite of it being so unhygienic. We bought few oranges 🍊 and started again. We reached this homestay at Pheuntsholling which is near by a Market. This flat has a beautiful view.
They served with complimentary Tea. I was so relieved 😅 I actually had two cups of tea ☕️ . We also ordered some homemade food from them. As Pheuntsholling is the border city of Bhutan and India, we already started noticing the differences in these streets. No more India network. It’s TASHI Cell.
We went for an evening walk to visit the below temple and returned after couple of hours.
As you can see in the picture, temple has many of those golden cylinders on which some mantras were written. Local people who visited that place were enchanting mantras and touching those cylinders with a sacred respect.
Food was ready as we reached. They prepared food and left for their stay. A 25 year old woman who is taking care of this homestay has prepared rice, dal, potato and peas curry and Beans Datsi. Beans Datsi is a Bhutanese dish which is made of Cheese and Beans while the rest are Indian cuisine. I was impressed by her cooking skills and managing business at this age.
We played UNO for some time and played Pictionary that night. Playing Pictionary always reminds me this scene from Big Bang Theory. Sheldon is Love 💕 😅