LOST IN BHUTAN: 6 BIKERS, 20 DAYS, 7500 KMS OF INSANITY!

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Chapter 6 – The grand entry into Bhutan.

The route plan for the day was Sevoke – Baintgoorie – Binnaguri – Birpara – Jaigaon – Phuentsholing, after which individual and bike permits had to be sorted.

After the battering we had received the prior day, it was a done deal that none of us would be waking up early. The swollen bottoms, aching arms, bad headache was the wake up alarm next day. A few scrambled eggs and two cups of strong coffee later, we were ready to roll.

The ride started a little later than planned. The aim was to leave the hotel by 6 am, but we ended up saddling up by 8:30. Today was the big day! There was sense of enthusiasm in all of us. Today we were to make our presence felt in a foreign land. And so with this note, the ride began.

The first stop over point being a hilly area, offered some scenic beauty, although the stop was kinda forced as Sherman and Glinfy had lost their way and we had to wait for them to turn around! It was the first encounter of ours with twisting and turning roads on the entire tour, with our bikes parked on a bridge, hovering around a steep mountain, flanked by the river Teesta, and I must say it was a sight to be remembered. The road was just the beginning of the terrain which we were about to experience. After we regrouped and were done admiring the beauty of the terrain around, it was a time for a fuel stop soon and then it struck us that Sherman failed to acquire his bike’s PUC. It was time to run helter skelter in search of a PUC agenct, and with none in sight, the group decided to carry on, only to find a shop open two corners later.

It was during this time; I received a call from Afzaal from KTM Lucknow and was given a shock. The bike’s front tyre axle nut was missing, rather due to some unforeseen circumstance, it was left out to be fixed. A new search began to source the nut. After a lot of looking around, we did finally manage to find a smaller nut of exact size that managed to hold the threads together. Something was better than nothing and by the time this entire scenario was over, we had already lost a costly hour and it was time for some food (food here means biscuits).

Then on ahead as the journey continued, the scenes just kept getting better and better, the roads became smoother and smoother, and the corners sharper and sharper. At a point, the roads were passing through tea plantations, dense forests and *here it comes* lots of coconut trees. That, seriously, to the ultimate level, felt weird. We at once felt we were travelling through Kerala, but nonetheless, each corner called for a photo/moto shoot. The entire ride towards Phuentsholing was smoothly paced in triple digits with the bikes feeling at home.

As we knew the distance to be covered was very less, the entire ride was relaxed, but as the destination appeared closer in GPS, the excitement level started to rise. The smooth straight road, which was going through Jaigaon, soon revealed the majestic Himalayan ranges, the green forest clad mountains, and then, at once, there was sparkle in the eyes of the riders, this was it! We were just 15 kilometres away from the foreign land, the dream trip had finally been conceived. What once started as a foolish idea, materialized! Soon we were across Jaigaon at around 12:30pm, and there it was, the border gate of “The happiest country” on the planet. It was the first time each one of us had set foot on foreign soil, an unknown land, the entire atmosphere was electric and with rapid conversations happening on Scala Rider between each of us, it was time to celebrate. With the security check posts throwing salutes with surprised expressions on their faces, we knew, we had marked our presence right then and there. It was now time to proceed for the permits.

But as the spare day was used up in sorting the bikes out at Lucknow, we knew we couldn’t afford to waste time. We barged inside the immigration office, only to find that it was closed for lunch, which in turn helped us to fill up the necessary forms and attach the documents for the permits. Everyone readied their documents except for Deepan, as his passport and voters ID were not in existence.

Deepan’s race against luck:

It is a norm, that if an individual fails to/doesn’t have proper identification documents, he/she needs authentication letter from the Indian consulate situated in that country. This thought itself is upsetting, as one never knows what surprises are waiting behind those magnificent looking doors. But as they say, fortune favours the brave and it was lucks turn to favour us. It turned out that the person at the consulate was a Hyderabadi too, and Deepan managed to build an extremely good rapport with him, and the letter of authentication was handed over to him in no time. That was the most consoling moment for the group, never did I see anyone so relaxed!

Back to the waiting game:

As the documents were filled and being attached, it was almost 2pm and the foreign crowd had started to gather for permits. But what advantage we carried over the others was, “we were Indians”. As Bhutan being the neighbouring country, it holds a really good relationship with our Mother India. This proved to be a great asset and our permit forms were taken inside within no time once the counter opened, and so was the processing and interviews done. This episode took less than an hour, but as it turned out, individual permits are not the only thing you should worry about when you are travelling inside Bhutan with your own vehicle. There’s one more special permit for vehicle, issued by their RSTA (Road Safety and Transport Association) in the individuals name, and it needed to be obtained the same day in order for the group to continue to the further part of Bhutan.

Once done with the individual permit, we rushed like maniacs to the RSTA office, with only one thing in mind, NOT TO BREAK THE TRAFFIC RULES! The traffic over here seemed extremely sedate and extremely well-mannered and a sound of horns was something that would probably jail you for life. We were the odd ones out, the hooligans inside the civilization, which seemed so calm and quiet. But alas, the RSTA was closed for the day. And the permits could not be obtained. But nonetheless, we managed to source out a really cheap and awesome accommodation nearby the RSTA. Now it was time to celebrate, cherish the journey, which none of us thought we would be doing, to raise a toast for the story, which would be passed across our generations to come. It was time to enjoy with some authentic Bhutanese cuisine.

Although with the individual permits being sorted, the RSTA permits were still pending, and with two of our bikes not having a R.C. book in existence, it was going to prove a challenge to get the permits for those vehicles.

73 Responses

  1. Avinash Ambekar says:

    Lovely intro. Let the rest roll out soon. How stupid I was to miss this epic ride 🙁

  2. Sachin Nair says:

    We wish you were there Avinash to care of photography 🙂

  3. Mihir Naik says:

    Hey Sachin. Awesome 🙂 I am having goose bumps. 🙂 Is it possible to join you in your next ride? 😀

  4. Uday says:

    Yes, the road before Chittorgarh is horrible with lot of dust in the air. When we rode, we could ride following a bus which had tail lights. It took a better of 2.5 hours to cover this behind this. And added to it, my colleague had a misfortune of hitting a rock and having a fall. But the roads till then are heavenly, sparse traffic and well marked roads.

    • lost_rider says:

      Uday – Yes, I agree the roads till Chittorgarh are awesome but the last 40 kms bad roads we were completely unaware of and that caught us by surprise

  5. Bhakti Engineer says:

    Beautifully written guys..

  6. That’s Hell of an DAY! *Touchwood* for the fellow rider’s company you had! 😀

  7. Rajdeep Roy says:

    Epic experience and narration guys! Keep up the good work. Waiting for the next chapter. Ride Safe!

  8. amit says:

    Amazing i use to get goose bumps only during lisnin to music and nw after reading this is like damn .. What twists and turns hehe

    • lost_rider says:

      There’s more twists and turns amit. The trip has just began and wait for further updates to here the complete story!

  9. Ashwin says:

    Bihar part is epic! xD
    The description is just too awesome but thinking of what you guys went through makes me feel horrible.

  10. Sushil Ayarottil says:

    Amazing writeup!!! And more importantly an awesome experience!!! Waiting for the rest of it.. Waiting for Bhutan!!!!

  11. Ashish Gupta says:

    Awesome experience for you Sachin and your folks for a lifetime.

  12. Rishabh says:

    Never got a chance to ride through Bihar, but I’m sure ur experiences gonna help 🙂

  13. drpratik says:

    part5 was one of the most entertaining read i’ve read in years…cheers you guys !

  14. Shishir says:

    Buddy,
    This was an amazing read. For a guy who’s passionate about riding this epic write-up only serves as a kick. I now dream of taking this path, not that I am excited to ride on it but just to see what our roads really like. To experience the flavours. Like you said, when the destination calls, all these stand trivial. More so when you have accomplished what you set out to achieve

  15. Swadhin says:

    Brilliant. You guys are new age Xuanzang 🙂 . One suggestion please take a polarizing filter next time.

  16. Bhakti Engineer says:

    Epic Write up for Day 10

  17. Awesome… DAY 10

    btw did u take KAWASAKI MECHANIC ( in green tees) on the ride 😛

  18. vipinjoseph says:

    “Tool Kit” What a fate you got man….Sherman ur bitching or writing…Well played man
    :0

  19. Shubham says:

    So when is the next part coming? Excited to read it further! 😀

  20. Alinel says:

    Dual sport motorcycles (which seems like a distant dream in India) is the answer to terrible roads

  21. Sanatan says:

    Hey still waiting for the last part….please update the last day in bhutan…and the ride back if possible 😉

  22. Niman Vazirani says:

    Brilliant write up man! Helmets off to you guys! 2 of us are doing a ride to Bhutan next year around the same time as you guys! What would you guys suggest? ride through and through or is it better to train the bikes to Calcutta and then ride on and spend more time in Bhutan? I think we would be spending a max of 20 days on the road!

  23. Kumar Bagchi says:

    Great write-up dude.Read every page.
    Planning to do a Bhutan trip from Kolkata on this October.
    As i am a student the financial thing comes first.So can u please tell me a approx budget to cover the whole ride?

  24. Manish Rawat says:

    the shop national auto accessories shown in background could have helped as he is a regular client of ours and i know he is a resourceful and helpful person

  25. Suprith says:

    Awesome.. (y)

  26. Tautik says:

    Great inspiration indeed. Plan to do the ride 3rd week of April. A quick question – How does ‘Permit from Customs department’ work? Is it pretty straight-forward? Keep inspiring!

    • lost_rider says:

      Hello Tautik,

      There are 2 permits needed – Individual permit and vehicle permit. The process about the same has been mentioned in the first page of this blog.

  27. Ashok Kamath says:

    Hi Sachin, this is Ashok from Goa. Me n 2 friends on 2 bikes ( yes 2 bikes not 3) will be riding thru Bhutan from this coming Sunday. I will be following exactly the same itinerary as yours ( in fact I copied your itinerary and made it ours). Is it possible for you to provide me with details such as Hotel names / contact name / numbers at places where you halted and also any other specific information ( contact persons/ timings of Djongs / petrol pumps / eateries ( what’s Bhutan specific and where) that might be useful to us.

    Could you please email me the information at my email address kamath.ashok@gmail.com.

    Thanks for your amazing travelogue which is now my one most important and relevant single point reference to riding thru Bhutan.

    God Bless.

  28. Issan says:

    Hey Bro , that was really some good piece . I am in office right now , and the time is 6:30pm , bro i started reading your blog since morning (11:30am) and literally i kept on reading with no work done 🙂 . I just didnt want to wait ,as in what could happen next. All the chapters felt like a movie . The photographic session was totally flawless . I too am a biker and love to travel far lands , and yes i am a crazy photographer too . Just loved your blog , simply mesmerising . You guys are a perfect combo to make a tour worth while. Had never read something so in-depth , i felt like i too was travelling with u guys . Simply awesome !! Ride safe !!

  29. sudhakar says:

    Hi,

    What is Permits from Customs?? How to obtain??? is this separate from RTO permission???

  30. Wow 7500KM . I wish i will be there with you guys.
    Awesome dude.
    thanks for the plan and guide

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