LOST IN BHUTAN: 6 BIKERS, 20 DAYS, 7500 KMS OF INSANITY!
Chapter 1: How all bad ideas are born?
During a regular dinner meetup, the interaction of the group was at its epitome. Discussion about various experiences continued, debate over how to pamper our rides was ongoing, when all of a sudden a topic came about the year’s long tour. It’s been a customary event of the group to do a yearly long ride of at least 10 days, and then suddenly, one head popped up with the idea of riding on foreign land. The idea struck a chord right then and there itself. Soon discussions were at full swing about the destinations – Thailand – Nepal – Sri Lanka and even Ladakh were at fore front, and then came the turning point. Mr. Sachin “anna” Nair said how about Bhutan. The deal was sealed in an instant, as the reports of riders going through Bhutan was very scarce. It seemed like a distant plan, but not impossible. The commercialization in Bhutan seemed very less and the culture still untouched, the architecture very unique and of course the amazing beauty mother nature was in display.
Days passed by with the topic at the back of our minds. Group discussions soon finalized the dates as 30th October to 17th November 2014 as per everyone’s leave availability. Meet ups happened, things started to pace up, routes were decided. Then came the turning point, the meeting with H.V.K sir. The routes were analysed, potential hazards, stop overs, restaurants and soon to be crossed bad lands of Bihar. Notes taken down, route Excel sheets were prepared, expenses were calculated and special thanks to HV sir, the itinerary was finalized after great efforts.
Then came the toughest of all parts, getting the rides ready and packing the luggage. Soon we found our date of departure very close, excitement had begun to kick in at its best. Phone calls after phone calls were being made for final pointers, documentation for permits was readied, and soon it was the day to leave for a journey that would change everything, forever.
The D-Day arrived and soon the luggage was loaded on our rides. There was excitement in the air, something felt different as we all headed towards the meet up point. The riders began to assemble one after the other, photos were being clicked and wishes were being given by the near and dear ones and then, it was time to start!
Chapter 2: Stairway to Heaven or Highway to Hell?
It was 30th October, as planned the group had assembled by 5 am sharp (not really) at the meet up point. The weather was pleasant, and the absence of light could be felt. As the group bid their final farewells to the dear ones, the level of energy in the air rose to an inexperienced level. It was finally the start of a journey which some people dream about. We were finally going to live the dream.
As we all rolled onto the highway, the rides started to gather up in formation and with only one target set in sight, Bhutan – the land of thunder dragon, there was nothing that could move our determination. The first stopover was in Chittorgarh, Rajasthan. The ETA was 8 pm in the night.
The road taken was Mumbai – Dhule – Nashik – Neemuch – Chittorgarh. Most of the highway was in butter smooth shape except for the start of the road ahead of Vasind. The road on most part was nice and lunch halt was taken at 300 kms before Chittorgarh. After the filling of stomach with what we were forced to call as lunch, it was time to carry on till the day’s destination was met. We were enjoying the roads and scenery, until we were zonked back to the reality of touring by what one may call as non-existent roads almost 40 kilometres before Chittorgarh.
It was until the last 40 kilometres of the day’s target, we realized what it meant to ride on landmine-ridden roads. It was as if Satan had laid the roads just to welcome us to hell. Boulders, rocks, slush, pot holes of unbelievable sizes covered in water, you name all the possible vile things and this road seemed to have them. As if that was not enough, the part of road was being constructed, with lot of heavy truck traffic running about, almost with the aim of running us over. Too much of dust in the air made it impossible to navigate through this black hole. Miles till this point had passed in blaze and now even a single kilometre seemed so slow. The scenario seemed to continue on for eternity, seemed as if the entire evening was put on a loop with everyone having a feeling of Déjà vu.
Finally, the group entered the city of Chittorgarh, and the search for the RTDC hotel began. Once at the hotel, we all heaved a sigh of relief as none of us has expected such a scenario. Now after dumping the luggage, it was time for some Rajasthani delicacy, and a short night’s sleep before the next day’s battering.