Sunday, October 20, 2013

Bhutan trip day 11 - Sun, 15 Sep 2013 - Journey to Gelephu - Part 1

Prior to my trip to Bhutan, I'd read many stories written by Riku in his blog. In fact, I knew him from his blog :) On my trip there, I felt like I experienced many things from what he had written there. Starting from "A tree, four seasons", I finally saw the tree that he mentioned there while walking from his office to his house; being introduced and met some of his very best friends from Sherubtse college's time as per "Way back to boyhood"; finally met Tashi Namgay - whom I supposed to meet in Kolkata earlier this year; watching the full rainbow in Thimphu although from different place; although it wasn't winter and Christmas time, we were invited for coffee at midnight by his best friend, Pema, who works in Taj Tashi Hotel; met the two brothers "Changa and Chuddu" while visiting Jambay Lhakhang in Bumthang; visited the artificial turf - Changlimithang Stadium in Thimphu; met many "Industrious Entrepreneur" along the road in Thimphu town; had a stroll in the evening from Motithang to Zilukha road and watched this place personally; stayed in this place for many nights during my stay there; looking at the beloved Thimphu town from far above the Sangaygang; took photo with "Bhutan comedian king, Phurba Thrinley" when we walked in Thimphu town during first day of Thimphu Tsechu; visiting Drayang in Haa, however me and his best friend came too late and the girls had left the place by the time we reached there hahaha....;and finally met not only the most eligible Bachelor but also a kind-heart in nature in person for the second time, who has a lot of passion in writing.

This time, he brought me to the place where his parents and families stayed, also where he spent some of his childhood time. He had written about this place many times in his blog posts. You can read it here, here, and here :)

We left his home to Thimphu bus station after having his warmhearted, own-cooked breakfast - fried sunny side egg, toasted bread, and a cup of hot coffee with cream. He wanted to make sure that we were full and having a comfortable journey before the bus stopped for lunch in afternoon time. Thank you for your considerate thought Riku!

First public bus encountered from Thimphu to Gelephu - 15 Sep 2013

This would be my first time taking a public bus in Bhutan. I read "Beyond the sky and the earth - A journey to Bhutan" written by Jamie Zeppa before. She wrote many of her horrible experiences taking public bus there, even called it "vomit comet" as there were many passengers in bus who were vomiting while traveling inside the bus. So, I was expecting a very much worse experience than what I really encountered, only to realize that the book was written based on her experience in 1988.

We sat down just behind the driver's seat, number 3 and 4. I sat down next to the window so that I could have full view of the roadside and make it easier to take pictures along the way. We left the bus station at 7am. On our way, the driver picked some more passengers illegally into the bus until it was full. We stopped for a while at immigration checkpoint where I had to go down and show my route pass to the immigration officer.

In a while, the journey continued on. The driver turned on the Nepali songs loudly to entertain the passengers while I sat down quietly writing my travel journal. Sometimes I took photo and sometimes I just let myself diving into the beautiful view while taking pleasure of the fresh and cool air from outside.

Source: Bhutan National Online Project (

The bus passed by the Dochula Pass, Punakha, and Wangdue, reminded me of my last year's journey; and went through the dusty and bumpy road where Punatsangchhu Hydroelectric Project was under construction - between 7 km and 18.5 km downstream from Wangdue Phodrang Bridge. Ohhh... it was horrible!!! There were many big vehicles passing by transporting materials required for building the projects. We had to close and open the window all the time as it was so dusty and the weather and the sun were too hot if we left the window closed.

Punatsangchhu Hydroelectric project - after Wangdue bridge

Luckily, not long after that we were dropped at one eating place. It wasn't near with dusty area. Slowly the passengers went out from the bus and went inside the eating place. As it was my first time experience, I was curious how the place looked like, what food they served, how to order, how to pay, and so on. Immediately I sat down at one table and observed what was going on, while Riku joined the crowd to get the food from an open counter directly outside the kitchen.

People started ordering their food. Riku was asking me what I wanted to eat. I told him, anything. I could eat any food that they had. He was asking me if pork was fine. "Yes, sure" I replied him. He came with two plates of rice first with some veggies inside. He took two bowls of dhall and spoons. The bus driver, who knew that I was foreigner, came personally to us and brought two bowls of spicy pork. We thanked him for his service and enjoyed our lunch. Wow, the pork was full of fats!! But it tasted great! Haha... I loved it! Sometimes enjoyed, sometimes felt sinful. Lolx!!! In short while, someone came out from the kitchen bringing a pot of rice, walked around offering everyone if they wanted to add some rice. After that he went in and out from kitchen with pot of dhall. It was included in the package. So, meat was limited to one serving, while rice and dhall was unlimited. That was good huh?? In Singapore, everything was charged by portion, otherwise in over-priced buffet price.

Once finished, people would go to the cashier, tell them what we had eaten and paid accordingly. Here, we had to be honest with what we ate because there was no way that the cashier knew what you had eaten. Kekeke... One person paid Ngu 130 (around SGD $2.60). Not very cheap, but definitely filled our stomach.

Roadside stall selling local food products - on our way to Tsirang

We continued our journey again. This time, the road had turned better. On our way to Tsirang, we passed by roadside stalls selling many local food products, such as: fruits (banana, lemon, guava, papaya, apple, etc.), eggs, pickle chili and vegetables, dorle, red and green chili, vegetables (cucumber with salt and chili powder, fern or nakey, etc.), local made cheese, honey, peanuts, bean, dhall, milk, ready eat samosa, etc. It was so colorful and attractive. I saw many passengers buying.

We passed by mountainous road of Damphu. From here we could see Dagana and we headed to Sarpang direction. Inside the bus, in between the music that we listened, there were some jokes recorded too. Almost all passengers (except me, who didn't understand the language) laughed out loud listening to it. However, I became very happy too listening to their laughter and looking at their expression. It was really a good idea to put some jokes in between so people wouldn't get bored inside the bus. Interesting!!! :)

Different style of house in Sarpang, southern part of Bhutan

We finally reached Sarpang. From inside the bus we could see the small Sarpang town. The road had started becoming very plain, no longer mountainous road. The house that we saw was different from usual Bhutanese house. From here onwards, the weather had turned hot and we could start seeing doma trees, which grow suitably in warmer weather. The area was near Indian border too.

Many wonders inside my mind

On the way to Gelephu, we could see many tall trees on our left and right side. They were all protected and preserved. I loved watching it. All trees seemed very old, had been there for many years, still grew strong and tall. Sometimes I wondered, if I had be reborn many times before this, would I ever be there and saw the same trees and visit the same Lhakhang before?? Because otherwise, how would I ever know this country in present life? There were many wonder and questions on my head that were left unanswered.

We passed by Bhutan liquor distillery factory, which manufactured high quality liquor in Bhutan, called AWP (Army Welfare Project), a company incorporated under the Companies Act of the Kingdom of Bhutan mainly in the business of bottling a range of alcoholic beverages such as whiskey, rum, gin, etc. Presently AWP Gelephu has around 18.44 acre area which include the water treatment plant and manufacturing unit and a guest house.(Source: 

Reaching Gelephu town

We finally reached Gelephu bus station at 4.30pm. We took a cab to the nearest place where we could start our journey. Journey??? Yes... journey to Chuzargang, the village where Riku's families stayed. In fact, it was a long journey mainly on foot. Continue read on part 2.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...