T-r-r- ingg, T-r-r- ingg, T-r-r- ingg. Its 30 minutes past 3 in the morning and I wake up without giving a fight to my alarm clock. A few minutes from then, I step outside with a bag on my back, to accompany my friends in our first foreign tour nonetheless to our neighbouring country Bhutan. So I must record the date. It is 27th February 2014. We all arrive at the Railway station and board into the Train to Hasimara. Yes, you get it right, it is Hasimara, a small Railway Station in North Bengal. All trains do not stop here or many of them do not pass through this route. Alternatively, one can get down in New Alipurduar. We choose Hasimara because of its proximity to the Bhutan Entry Point at Phuentsholing. After a short drive of 40 minutes from Hasimara we reach the Indian side of the border called Jaigaon, a small and a nasty town.
We cross over the Entry Gate, a free entry gate, and approach to Regional Immigration Office with our respective Voter ID Card/Passport for Entry Permit. An hour for lunch in between and we are with the permits to set our journey into the land of Thunder Dragon at 3.00pm.
Kailash Sharma, our driver of Rajasthan origin, is a very calm and quite person and drives on this mountainous terrain with great tolerance and skill. We notice no rush drive by Bhutanese in general and there is absolutely no horn. We are now connected with a Bhutan mobile network service and all of us call our dear ones at home.
After sometime we urge for coffee, so our car stops at a shop at Geddu. Everyone in the shop including the owner is watching a Hindi movie on television to which they are deeply involved, yet our coffees are served in no time.
After that our car hits the highway again at a speed of 40-50 KMPH and quite sometime after dark we stop at the check posts en-route at the confluence of Wang Chhu (“Chhu” means river) and Paro Chhu, 31 KM before Thimphu. There are actually two check posts en-route, which checks for the valid permit, the earlier one was just after leaving Phuentsholing.
My friend Chandra comes out from the car and finds a lonely place to throw up. He says, “I was doing everything in my control not to throw up – but in the end I realized, I was just delaying the misery.”
Permit check takes only a few minutes; thankfully people are so efficient here. Our Journey starts again. It is now 8.45 pm, our car enters into the capital city ‘Thimphu’. We notice a big photograph of the King and Queen at the Entry Gate and a wish therein “Long Live Our King”. Thimphu is a town that’s small, yet not so small as to be called a town. We notice the picturesque architecture and purity of air. We reach at the Hotel, a good and clean one; the best part of it is the location, on a city centre. Outside temperature of 30 C makes the night really cold. We finish our dinner and take guard of blankets.