My First International Trip – A Bike Trip To Bhutan

In the sweltering summer of May ‘2018, a group of seven adults, including me – the sole female member, boarded a flight from Bengaluru to Guwahati in the wee hours and a train the same night to New Jalpaiguri to collect the bikes (3 Royal Enfield Himalayans and 1 KTM Duke) from ‘Gati Transport Limited’. My first international bike trip involved meticulous planning as each of us procured the appropriate riding gear and obtained the required immigration documents, besides making the necessary travel arrangements, including shipping of the bikes, flight and train ticket booking and accommodation.
The ride was planned accordingly –
RIDE PLAN
DAY
DATE
FROM
TO
Day 1
17/5/18
Bengaluru ( Flight 07:20am)
Guwahati
17/5/18
Guwahati ( Train 9pm)
New Jalpaiguri
Day 2
18/5/18
New Jalpaiguri (3am)
Phuentsholing
Day 3
19/5/18
Phuentsholing
Thimpu
Day 4
20/5/18
Thimpu exploration
Day 5
21/5/18
Thimpu
Punakha
Day 6
22/5/18
Punaka
Gangtey
Day 7
23/5/18
Gangtey
Bumthang
Day 8*
24/5/18
Bumthang
Paro
Day 9
25/5/18
Taktsang  (Tiger’s Nest)
Day 10
26/5/18
Paro exploration
Day 11
27/5/18
Paro
Phuentsholing
Day 12
28/5/18
Phuentsholing exploration
Day 13
29/5/18
Phuentsholing
NJP
Day 14
30/5/18
Guwahati to Bangalore
Welcome to Bhutan

 The land of serenity, hospitality and cultural heritage, where visitors like me experienced a breathtaking view of the picturesque landscape, pristine waters, steep valleys and the generosity of the locals throughout our 13-day sojourn. The adventure involved riding daily from dawn till dusk on serpentine roads and broad highways from Phuentsholing to the capital Thimpu and 3 districts (Punakha, Paro, Wangdue) along the western frontier of this ‘happy country.
I embarked upon a journey that would begin by 7 am every day with the first pit stop being for breakfast along the planned route, with conscious breaks every hour to refuel our bikes and replenish our resources as we were traveling to high altitudes.
During the excursion, I visited tourist attractions like the Memorial Chorten, Buddha Dordenma Statue, Motithang Takin Preserve, Jigme Dorji National Park, Punakha Dzong, Dochula Pass, Chele la Pass (the highest motorable pass at an elevation of 13,000 feet) and went on an 8-hour trek to Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest).
The trek to Tiger’s Nest (10,240 feet) was physically daunting, yet with God’s strength and the motivation of team members I was able to successfully climb, view God’s creation from the pinnacle and descend the mountain safely. Although it was an achievement for all of us, it reminded me that I needed to engage in some form of physical activity regularly so that I can actualize my potential.
On May 22nd, an unexpected situation arose due to which a fellow rider and I were unable to stay at our booked accommodation. However, the generosity of a kind Bhutanese family ensured we had a comfortable stay for the night. The next day, 2 cops came for breakfast at the very same place and offered to help us change the tire and fix the bike so that we could continue on our journey. Thank God for these ‘angels’ in our time of need!
Although the trip entailed a rigorous routine, the scheduled ‘rest days’ refreshed us physically and mentally as we aired our clothes, sampled the local cuisine and explored various facets of the towns (Sabji Bazar & Zandok Palri Park) to buy souvenirs for family and friends.
BIO:
The writer of this guest blog is the kindest person I know. A friend, A sister, A voice of reason, A believer, A doer, A motivator and An Inspiration – Joanna Priyadarshini Udaykumar is a Doctoral Student at CHRIST (Deemed to be University), India, currently pursuing research on ‘Parent-Child Play in Bengaluru city’. She is an eloquent orator, articulate writer, avid reader and sports enthusiast who is passionate about working with children and aspires to be a Counselor.
In her free time Joanna enjoys reading, listening to music, savoring culinary delicacies, solving crosswords and quizzes, acquiring new skills and creating memories through snapshots.
Even though Bhutan is the only international trip she has been to, she has explored many places within India such as Kolkata, Hyderabad, Pune, Kedgaon, Khandala, Panchgani, Mahabaleshwar, Mumbai, Aurangabad, Lucknow, Varkala, Allepey, Goa, Kodaikanal, Hampi, Mangalore, Udupi, Mysore, Hassan, Chennai, Vellore, etc.
 
TRAVEL TIPS FOR BIKERS
  1. Prior to the trip, vehicles need to be serviced and all group members need to have hard and soft copies of their bike documents and ID cards for Immigration, inspection at checkpoints and lodging purposes.
  1. Be equipped with the appropriate riding gear (riding jackets, elbow & knee guards, wind cheater, rain pants and waterproof shoes with gaiters) as one will experience weather changes in a matter of hours (sunny – rainy- misty).
  1. Travel light – carry a backpack with 4 sets of preferably quick dry apparel, a buff, an extra pair of shoes along with essentials. Bikers can use saddle bags that can be placed on both sides of the bike and a tank bag to keep essential documents, hand towel, keys, etc. If required, one biker can keep a set of Jerry Cans to store extra fuel.
  1. Bikers and pillions need to take a break after every 50km / an hour to hydrate themselves and regain energy to stay alert on the road. Also, one needs to adhere to the road signs and traffic rules of the country which include – making way for pedestrians and ‘No Honking’.
TASHI DELEK!!
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