LOST IN BHUTAN: 6 BIKERS, 20 DAYS, 7500 KMS OF INSANITY!
Chapter 8: Resting our sore asses in Thimpu
Having ridden through the picturesque landscapes of this amazing country, and reaching Thimpu the prior day late night, it was time to head to the acquire the further permits of the country. As the country sharing the border with china on the northern side, the restricted areas can only be visited once the permits area allotted. So, me, Deepan and Sachin, headed to the permit office right in the morning. This time, we decided to stroll across the entire city, instead of taking a cab/bike, and my god! What a beautiful city! People here seemed to carry a pleasant smile on their faces. The way we were being smiled at and greeted, is just a memory to be remembered.
The entire walk took less than 20 minutes. Sachin being busy in searching the directions, me and Deepan were busy happily clicking photographs to our hearts content. We even got to witness the majestic SAARC foundation, which was situated right at the heart of the city, and my, what a royal majestic structure it was! Something a person sees probably only once a lifetime. The most surprising part of the entire journey was seeing Mr. Pranab Mukharjee’s photo besides the King of Bhutan, what a proud moment for an Indian! Everything about this country seemed to amuse us to the ultimate level.
Finding the office was not a big hassle. Police officers after being asked for the directions guided us straight to the permit office. Once at the permit office, the process of application did not take more than 20 minutes. We were asked to duly sign and fill the permit request forms, provided by the lady official at the counter. Once filled and attached with the necessary documents, signature of the concerned authority in the next cabin taken, our permits were granted and we were officially going to travel the cross country ride. But!! This was not the final word; we still had to take the RSTA extensions. So the run across the entire city began, as the RSTA office was next to the clock-tower across the street of our hotel. So it was a hurried run across the streets back. The experience at the RSTA office was no different, and the permits were acquired within no time. This was the “Eureka” moment for all of us; we had official permits for all the restricted areas of Bhutan, and there was nothing that could have stopped us now, well, apart from landslides, probably?
Once the permits and paperwork had been sorted, it was discussed and decided by the group to explore this wonderful city. First up was the Buddha point.
The Shopping experience:
Being tourism oriented country; Bhutan had a lot to offer in the shopping department. Prayer flags, scrolls, lanterns, wrist bands, artefacts, are only a handful of things which one can mention. Thus the shopping was done. The shopkeepers being very friendly a lot of things were being purchased by the group. But mind you, the prices put forth, are fairly hiked, and need to be brought down by a lot of persuasion and bargaining, and so we did. The prices were brought down by almost a 30-40% while shopping, and the shopkeepers were happily bargaining.
From 7,500 ft. to 10,500 ft. – Buddha point:
So once done with breakfast, we all gathered at a café nearby, and caught a cab. Now the information provided to us was that the Buddha point has supposedly one of the biggest Buddha idols in the world, and surely it was. As we hit the road to climb the Buddha point’s mountain it was a steep climb from 7,500 ft to 10,500 ft within a span of roughly less than 3 kilometres. Although it doesn’t sound that more, but yes! It was insanely steep with sharp turns. As the climb began, the idol slowly started revealing itself. It was as if Buddha, himself, reincarnated in the mountains. Standing roughly 170 ft tall, it was one majestic bronze and golden statue seated on an immeasurably huge platform. Explaining the magnificence of this structure, idol, architecture, just won’t do any justice, it’s something beyond imagination. It was not just the Buddha which attracted us, but the area offered an amazing view of the entire city. The fields, Dzong, castles everything could be seen and not a single street was left which was hidden, Who knew a structure could be constructed, projected out from a mountain, in a way that the entire city could actually witness the idol. It was as if Buddha himself decided to look over the city, protecting it from the bad.
After experiencing the beauty of the Buddha point it was time to head to the zoo to witness the national animal of the country.
Takin, the national animal:
Spelled as Ta-Kin is the national animal of Bhutan. This particular species is only found in Bhutan – North eastern part of India – Tibet and in cold areas around. Once a dweller of these areas, now due to destruction of their habitat is an endangered species.
The main purpose of the visit to the zoo was to witness this majestic creature. Standing roughly 5 ft. tall and 7 ft. long, this creature was a serious looker. Having a body of a cow, and face of a big goat, the animal was something to be admired. Events like these make us wonder the complexities of nature, how can there be such an evolution of certain species?
The Cab ride back:
Once done with admiring the Takin, it was decided to head back to the city, and on the way, to witness the Thimpu Dzong from the outside. And then, iIt was time for some food. Craving for some meat was at its peak as the travelling and variation in altitudes had taken toll on us.
Glinfy being in charge of the #Foodgasm and #Foodporn department had figured out a local joint which served Bhutanese pizza nearby our hotel. Now at the hotel, it was time to hog on some meat. That feeling of letting the meat pass on your tongue after you’ve been starving for what may seem like ages is just indescribable. This treat was to celebrate the successful entry of the 6 musketeers into the foreign land.
As luck may have it, there was a small lounge just besides our stay named “The zone”. And once done at the pizza shop, we decided to pay the lounge a visit. And its during this time, it dawned upon us that the cost of food and drinks combined was cheaper than our homeland, and then, it was time to do what we do best “Eat again”.