One of the many pleasures of travelling is to watch the landscapes pass by while you are engrossed in deep conversations or listening to your favorite song while sitting by a window seat. Bhutan travel is all about being on the road. As such drive on the hills will take time and so travel by road from one city to another will take time. A lot of people fly into Paro and continue their trip from there however we drove into Bhutan from Jaigoan. Also some people take small charter flights to go from Paro to Bhumtang valley. It does save time I cannot disagree with that but here are the reasons why one should drive through Bhutan.
The THRILL of Adventure
The picture below is taken at a place called Gedu en route Paro. Gedu has always a white blanket of fog covering it. The fog is so thick that you cannot see anything in the front unless the headlight from the other vehicle comes right on your face. This nearly 20 min stretch is going to be all about, oh shit, oh my gawwwd, oh f**** followed by thinking about your dear ones 😛 Only seasoned drivers will be able to do this stretch. The trick is to try to stick as close as possible to the white line and crawl or go down the gorge! If Gedu is known for its fog, the rest of the places one needs to look out for landslides and numerous bends in the road.
The Changing LANDSCAPES
Bhutan has a variety of landscapes! I first read about it in the museum at Paro and then as we drove through I could relate to all types of vegetation that is happening here. May be Kingdom of Narnia got inspired from Bhutan. Freshly snowed mountains overlooking the roads, driving through tall pine trees whose base you cannot see, muddy roads that tests your skill to stay on it, huge mountains covered with shrubs raising above you and then suddenly it is all alpine meadows like you have just entered Switzerland, amidst all these are streams that surprise you around the corner and waterfalls pushed by heavy wind that is never touches the base nor forms a pool. And one of the most unforgettable stretch was covered with pinkish to reddish flowers of Rhododendrons. It was towards the end
of season of flowers and yet they welcomed us gleefully.
Spot a CLOUDED LEOPARD
Who thought amidst the winding roads a clouded leopard would decide to cross! Not even in my wildest imagination I was expecting to see it. They are very very few in number and sighting is rare. We were in a dizzy state when the driver bumped hard on the break and said “Oh Teri!” My heart came up to my throat and all I could say was, ‘it is, it is, not a leopard, it is patched leopard!’ All of us were so astonished that took a couple of minutes to figure out it is clouded leopard. And then just down the hill were men working unaware that a clouded leopard was watching them through the thick jungle little up the hill. It waved around its thick bushy tail and quickly vanished. We did not get out of the vehicle and it was too quick, so no picture. But boy we should have been one lucky lot to see it! Something that I always boast of. We saw it on our way back from Trongsa.
Hang out with the YAKS
You know how in India you can find cows on the road, just like that one can see Yaks and their family on the roads of Bhutan. Not at Thimpu or Paro they stay further up after Trongsa. So many of them walking around, cowherd or yakherd shooing them away from the road and they run around with big bells clinking around their neck. Some are just sitting by the road, happily grazing around, munching on the grass or just lazing around. With a beautiful front hair cut and a long shiny ponytail they are quite the fashionista of the mountains.. Oh and a yak baby is the most adorable thing to see.. The mother seemed very protective of her calf, did not allow us to take photo of the baby yak.
Stop for some MOMOs and CHA
There are going to be roadblocks if you traveling towards central Bhutan and further east. They are laying roads or they might be clearing the fallen rocks of a landslide, whatever be the reason there is no option other than to wait patiently in the mountains.. But with that comes momo sellers and tea sellers. Oh just yum! With cold wind brushing your cheeks and hot momos with hot chilli sauce, it is a dish to relish. Those momos are stuffed well and are bigger. And then you realize the momos we get in the city are such a waste. Soon I started to look forward for road blocks amidst the winding roads. You can stay there all day long munching momos, eggs and gulping down butter tea trying to interpret what the mountains are trying to speak to you.
Stop to say a PRAYER
Everywhere you can hear the prayer wheels’ clinking sound. Not just in the cities and monasteries but on the highways. At some places it is so strategically placed across a stream of water, that the gushing water keeps rotating the wheel. It is so soothing to hear the sound among the stillness of the mountains. Along with the clink of the wheel joins in the sound of fluttering flags in the wind. Numerous colorful prayer flags shows you the way up the mountains. You will come across many passes, stop for a moment to offer prayers and listen to the songs of the mountain.
How to reach Bhutan