As we travel from Phuentsholing to Thimpu
Completing the Travel Entry process
We are ready to travel. But the permit office opens at 9 am. After submitting the relevant documents, we waited for a couple of hours before permission was granted. It shouldn’t take more than 60 mins depending on the number of applicants, however there was some confusion regarding our token number.
Hence we could manage breakfast only by 11 and it turned into a brunch with momos, thupka and chicken fried rice. It is common for locals to start their day with beer, and almost every table had a few bottles lined up for their occupants.
Our plan was to take a local bus to Thimpu and the next one was available at 2. There was nothing to do but wait at the bus stand, which too was constructed in typical Bhutanese architecture.
It’s a completely uphill route to Thimpu which is 172 kms away. A well built smooth road, sparse traffic, with more trucks than cars. And the scenery is gorgeous, lush green hills that soon give way to equally lush green mountains. From an extremely warm morning, the weather suddenly turned chilly as we started gaining height. At some point we were at level with clouds. This drive is similar to the one from Shimla to Manali in northern India, but more green than rocky and lots of waterfalls. After Phuentsholing, my phone turned into a ‘camera only’ mode as the signal of my Indian carrier completely died.
When we briefly stopped on the way due to a landslide, vehicles diligently lined up one behind another patiently waiting for their turn. This immediately reminded me of how a typical Indian driver would senseless and brazenly break the queue and cause a bottleneck resulting in endless traffic jams. This route is prone to landslides as we noticed at several places.
Half way to Thimpu, the road starts narrowing into a single lane. And my co passenger informs that a new road is being constructed which will cut down the travel time by two hours. A massive part of the mountain is cut up, rather cut down, almost half a kilometre in height, simulating a landslide, and the air is full of rock dust. This is evidence of work in progress, which will have the road ready by end of 2017.
By the time we enter Thimpu its already dark, and a powerful light shining on a massive status of Lord Buddha greets us from a distance. We make a mental note to visit it next day.
After checking several hotels, we settle down in Hotel Yosul 2 which is on the main road opposite the Clock Tower square. Again, a decent hotel with affordable rooms.