Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Day 11: The long ride to Pheuntsholing: China border to Bhutan border in one day!

Route: Gangtok-Malli-Sevoke-Binaguri-Hasimara-Pheunstholing(270 KM)
Road Condition: Road from Sevoke bridge to Hasimara is partly good with long stretches of potholed road.
Max. Altitude: 4715 ft(Gangtok)

Woke up very early at 4:30 and left the hotel at 5. We had the local version of maggi for breakfast at Malli. Its called wai wai which is quite famous in Sikkim. After Sevoke, we took the coronation bridge and headed straight to Hasimara. We were now on the plains and heat started getting us. Some streches of road were good and it was mostly surrounded by tea gardens. It was a very tiring journey till Hasimara and Parag was was really getting irritated coz of the roads and the long ride but we had to reach Pheuntsholing early so that we could start with the permit process as soon as possible. After a tiring journey of 270 km , we reached Pheuntsholing at 12:30. There is just one gate which separates Indian town of Jaigaon and Pheuntsholing.
Bhutan Gate: our entry into the himalayan kingdom

We chose the Kuenga Hotel which had the best room we've had so far on this trip and that too in just 500 Rs.! The buildings in Pheuntsholing were quite typical of Bhutan.
Bhutan's National Dress!

The visa office was closed for lunch. So we waited till 1 pm and then went to visa office. If one has a Indian passport or voting card then its just one step process to get the permits. Since Parag was not having his passport, he had to take a identification letter from Indian Consulate office. Luckily he had carried his ration card with him.

We had a very bad experience at the consulate. We were made to go out for photocopies and other things for quite a few times. After making independent applications, the person told us that we now would need a single application and all photocopies for everybody should be attached to that. It was really disgusting to see such pathetic attitude towards Indian people visiting Bhutan. esp by an Indian official. The Bhutanese people were lot more helpful. We then took those documents and applied for the permits which we got at around at 4. The other thing was to get vehicle permits from RTA office. Manas visited the place and enquired about the process. We then took some rest and took a stroll around the town. We had really good food that night. A perfect start to Bhutan leg of our ride!
Coronation Special..guess that one!

Local currency (ngultrum)

We were really tired after the long journey and permit struggle and went to sleep there after.