So now, if you recall my ‘The Bhutan Project – Travel Dairies 1.1, you’d remember that I was in Lucknow at Aashish’s place having a nice time. But all things come to an end and so I had to leave Lucknow the next day.
I was on-route to Patna, when I reached the railway station of Lucknow at 09:30 PM and convinced a person to sponsor my ticket to Patna, he got me a general ticket. The train arrived at 11:30 PM, generally I’ve been fairly lucky enough to get a seat every time I travel in the general category but this time, the train seemed over packed and the chances of getting a seat were slim.
Fortunately, a person from the upper berth got down and I managed to squeeze myself into that gap (literally squeeze, I still get nightmares about that time). If I were to describe my situation in a very humble manner I’d say “my travel peers did not seem to be sharing my enthusiasm and they kept bothering me for everything” but in literal sense they were bullying me like the new animal in the old cage, I still held on for if I couldn’t what good was I?
At 01:00 PM I finally reached Patna, the first thing I did was going to Buddha Smriti Park and then I went to my stay, Hotel Buddha Inn. I had got a free stay here courtesy of Shashank Vaishnav. In the afternoon, my dear friend Anand Chauhan came to pick me up with his mother and invited me for lunch. The food was quite amazing and his hospitality was beyond my imagination. He then told that the next morning he was going to a place near the Bihar/Sikkim border and asked me if I wanted to accompany him, I said yes humbly but deep inside I was jumping with joy remembering my previous train experience.
After that, I visit Patna Sahab Gurudwara. But now the problem was trying to find a suitable place to stay for the night hence, I contacted Anand, he was staying in a hotel himself and offered me to rent a room, but I didn’t want him to pay so I rejected and spent my night on the railway station. Sometimes sitting on the waiting chair, something leaning on my bag, walking for a while somehow I managed to elapse the night. (Who am I kidding, it wasn’t a night, and it felt like an eternity in Alaska)
On the next morning at 10:00 PM I met Anand again had breakfast and left for Purnea, Bihar in his Tata Safari. We reached Purnea by 06:30 PM, I was still a long way from Gangtok and did not want to waste any time and hence I decided to board a bus that dropped me off to Kishanganj (convincing-hitchhiking). There I got onto a train for New Jalpaiguri (without the ticket).
When I dropped at New Jalpaiguri, I persuaded a cab to take me to Gangtok but it won’t start until 04:00 AM, so I slept in the taxi. And coincidently I ran into a friend there and then I proceeded towards my stay. My friend Deepak Chawla (who runs a café in Indore named as Café Tereza) back into Indore had a friend in Gangtok named Primula Bhandari she owned a hotel and a cottage and she was happy to offer me a free stay at her place.
I left my stuff at the hotel and proceeded to the Hub Outdoor bike shop where I was to collect my Scott Subcross’50 bike, after collecting the bike I went back to the hotel to freshen up. I woke up the next morning and met Agya Dawa and Tamanna Tamang, later I decided to go biking to HanumanTok and Bulbule. I was back in town after an exhilarating yet refreshing ride.
On the morning of 16th I decided to go cycling though it began raining soon, I decided to carry on with the adventure. The rain did stop after a while but something that did not stop was the beautiful sceneries that kept mesmerizing and reassuring me that my decision of taking this trip was one of my best decisions ever.
The calmness of the mountains, the serenity of the water that was flowing nearby; the road was too small yet I did not stop pedaling. For smaller roads meant more closeness to the subtle nature. At 11:30 AM I had snacks and then I started cycling again.
By 04:30 PM I decided to find a shelter for myself and inquired at the army service area but they denied. Then I came across a petrol pump at Malbazaar where I found shelter for the night. It was amazing how the staff allowed me to stay with them, in fact, they were very happy to share their stuff with me but I wanted to sleep in my own bag remembering my experience in the past.
I ate at the restaurant nearby. I had a talk with Primula and she gave me the contact of a person called Abdul who was to meet me the next morning at 08:45 AM and then we had our breakfast. He told me about his experience in Bhutan and a few other things that I wasn’t aware of. He also gave me a few handy contacts of Bhutan. He came as promised, 08:45 AM we went for breakfast and then had a fascinating conversation after which I started cycling again, I was trying to keep my minimum speed at 25km/h, and the only time I stopped was for lunch. I reached the border by 05:00 PM. (finallyyy)
As soon as I reached the border, I tried my luck at the immigration office, but unfortunately, the office had closed by 05:30 PM. My next worry was to find shelter for the night, I tried at a Gurudwara but failed, and then I started to look for a place where I wouldn’t have to spend much.
18th December I woke up at 07:00 AM and then headed for the immigration office, around 7-8 people were already gathered there. So, we got into a queue and waited. The officer arrived at 09:00 AM, and told us to go fetch the other documents including the medical reports (why do they need medical certificates for?? I wasn’t carrying any flue), hence I left the queue and went searching for the place to get myself a medical report.
After a lot of questioning, I found out that travelers do not require medical reports (whaaatttttt???). Some of the people with me in the queue were applying for labor visa, they were asked to get the required documents. This misunderstanding cost me a lot of time. Anyways, I was back in the office and they asked me to fill a form and I was glad I was finally on my way.
My temporary joy burst as a bubble when they looked at my form and told me that you cannot go!
On further questioning, I found out that they weren’t allowing me because I was going alone (em! I never knew being single had its own demerits too), the only other option that I had was, to get an invite from someone living in Bhutan.
How was I supposed to get an invite from Bhutan? So I called Primula again and asked her to help me. She gave the number of a guy from Bhutan but he wasn’t of much help. I then bought a Tashicell sim and called Nima Lhamu, she sent me a letter within 2-3 hours. And the office was to close before 04:00 PM and stay closed for the next two days. Fortunately, I was able to get a permit before it closed.
Aaaahh so I have the permit, I decided to spend the night here again and then move into Bhutan the next morning.
The morning came, I was out finally going to move into Bhutan. The moment I had been waiting for. But wait, someone told me that I needed a permit for my bicycle as well. And my ecstasy turned into sympathy, for Bhutan will have to wait again.
(Keep posted to know more about how I finally got through and my amazing little adventures)
This is Aakash Ranison Signing off