Bhutan is no ordinary place. Its a beautifully land-locked Himalayan kingdom, which has remained cut off from the outside world, till about 35 years back. And that it is one of the most tenaciously guarded culture and tradition is no secret. The exclusivity of adventure, nature and culture awaits you like no other place in the world.
The traditional Buddhism reigns supreme in daily lives of people, and for Bhutanese – Modernisation does not necessarily mean Westernisation. After all they are not chasing GDP, but happiness through GNH Index – Gross National Happiness and have 70% of their country under forest cover. Now if that’s not amazing – then fathom this –
They are never in a haste, don’t publish newspaper on a Sunday, have a holiday on Rainy Day, make time for customs, family, friends and archery. So while riding in Bhutan – No Hurry, No Worry!
If it helps you – here is the route we did … Started and Finished at Siliguri …
Here are the top 20 Images from our recent ride to Bhutan – It’s SHANGRI-LA …
Hope you enjoyed these images. Though I must admit that none of these can do full justice to a road trip in Bhutan.
Some Advise for those planning to Go …
I have had a privilege of riding over 20,000 km in Bhutan. Every time I ride into Phuentsholing and through the mystical fog of Gedu, its an ever exhilarating feeling of rejuvenation. For the guys who are planning to take a road trip to Bhutan – here is a quick update on what has changed in last 1-2 years –
The entry to Phuentsholing from Jaigaon has changed. You need to go further ahead from the earlier gate, and take a circuitous route to the town – its now a rear entry to the Phuentsholing from further down the wall. A lot of roads are now one-ways which really make reaching your hotel a very interesting. 🙂
You cannot have an E-Permit / E-Visa, if you are using the back up vehicle and mechanic from India. Effectively if you want an E Permit / E Visa, you have to use every service from a Bhutan travel agent.
The new highway construction to Thimphu that completely bypasses the thin and risky roads of Tsimasham – and now its just a song of a ride to Thimphu or Paro.
Indian riders are unable to ride beyond Phobjika or Gangtey. So basically due to road reconstruction, the central and eastern Bhutan remains elusive to Indian riders. Although I do hear that Bhutan bikes are now allowed to travel east.
In the coming months I have some amazing destinations to go to. Would share the stories of Kyrgyszstan, Eastern Europe and Spiti rides – in coming months.
Please do share the Photo Blog with your friends who have interests in unique places, riding and outdoor life. Also would be grateful if leave a comment …
Thanking you from Myanmar, for being here and following this blog on road trip to London. Please do share with those who are keen on reading our stories from the highway.
Getting this blog out is more challenging than I initially thought. The sheer quantum of operations and coordination work in the day light hours, consumes us all completely. But I am committed to bring it to you -at least twice a week if not more.
I am now sitting in a roadside cyber cafe in a small border town of Tamu in Myanmar, and penning this one down – got some hook on to the cafe’s wifi – it cost me 3000 Kyat ( don’t worry its just Rs 150). We have had a rendezvous with some early monsoon showers and the humidity is rising – its mostly cloudy and a good weather for riders. Its noon and I have not seen the sun yet.
Tamu is the sister town of Indian border town of Moreh in Manipur. Tamu is 2 shades cleaner, and the roads are a few shades better. But looking at my last 5 years across this town of Moreh – Tamu – it has gone a lot better year on year. I guess the under development Asian Highway ( AH1), which is supposed to be the Gateway to ASEAN – will do wonders to these border towns. Interestingly Moreh has a thriving Tamil population from the British days.
I assume you all would like to know a bit about actors of this magnum opus. Allow me a few lines on the participants and Hamsafars.
We have Rason, in his early forties, who has a business of Concrete from Coimbatore. An amazing rider of CCT ( Cotton City Throttle) riding group. Rason has been on our rides in Chiangmai and Bhutan. Rason’s humility and a capability to laugh at himself is something that just about catches your attention early. Of course he is the best camera shot on the ride – and do watch out for his pics that he has allowed me to use on our blog and Instagram. He is riding a BMW 1200 GS.
The next in line is the Prasads’ Family – GV, Nandini and their Son Rakshith from Hyderabad. Prasads run a chain of Pathcare Labs, pan India. GV came to realise his riding passion 3 years back, now owns 10 super-bikes, and here is the big news- he would achieve the rare landmark of doing 1,00,000 kms within few hours of entering Myanmar. For GV there is no looking back, he is now a rider on the mission to ride the lengths and breadths of this Globe, hopefully we would be part of that dream.
GV and Rakshith are riding BMW 1200 GS, and Nandiniis watching them ride the road across Asia and Europe from the back up SUV – this she believes is a lot more peace than worrying back home about the boys on bikes.
Rakshith is all of 21 and has just taken the time out between MBBS commitments to finish this ride of a lifetime … What luck to do this at such early stage in life. And the by the way, he is amazingly tech savvy, is aware of the nitty gritty of whats inside of BMW GS 1200 motorcycle. That is such a relief to all the other BMW riders on expedition. With the parents as spirited road trippers, he has inherited an amazing attitude to adventure rides.
Moving on to the 2 riders from Ahmedabad of the Vibrant Gujarat – Prakash Bhai or PP and Hirenbhai or Kaka or Bablo. I have not seen more vibrant riders yet – with so much zest for life and endless energies to keep the team spirits high. Both are members of Gun Riders Motorcycle Club (GRMC) of Ahmedabad, and are doing the journey on amazing Royal Enfield Himalayans. Two Indian bikes that would do this arduous journey and make Royal Enfield proud.
PP – an active Lions Club of Karnavati, Ahmedabad member (LIONS Club is an International NGO) , is the brain being running of GRMC. A veteran of many enduring and tough rides all over India – he has a savvy social media presence and is pretty popular among bikers of India and abroad. PP has high endurance for long rides and a penchant to find a biker friend in every city.
Hirenbhai or Kaka is running 60 and is age wise the eldest on the group. Had he not come to this ride, he would have been overage to ride on China. This young man too came to adventure a few years back. Hiren believes that his current phase of life is a bonus and is ready to do anything to live life to the fullest – anything else just does not matter to him #OneLife #CarpeDiem. His indomitable positivity and capability to accept things the way they are, speaks of the deep philosophical understanding Kaka has of the life we are living. His zest for living life is worth emulating.
Then we have the man from the Royal Household of Dundlod, Rajat Singh Shekhawat, again on the 4th BMW 1200 GS of our ride. This steed he bought just a few months back with the sole purpose of doing a ride to London. Rajat grew up in the tea gardens of North Assam, went to Scindhias, Mayo and DU, is a reputed shooter and an excellent sportsman. He runs SUVASA – an awe inspiring, pan-India chain of ethnic clothing. Rajat incidentally was the first guy to sign up and its his steely resolve that pushed us to make this ride happen. We are all grateful.
Ankit of Viktorianz, is the man-friday who has put in countless hours for almost 100 days in working out and putting together the complex logistics of ride – you cannot imagine what it takes. He has been a Viktorianz man for 3 years+, has done a few trans-border rides already, and is now on this big one. Ankit is as tireless in operations as anyone can imagine – and a budding world explorer. Such great support to the expedition that I cannot do justice in writing here …
Finally its Keshwars’ Family – Sarita, heads a few mission critical things at Viktorianz – and has pieced together the maze of stays we would do in 2 continents over 55 days. Sarita has been a biker, a trekker, a road tripper across India and an Educator – including Principal of a School – and above all a conscience keeper at Viktorianz. Her rock solid efforts for conduct of an operation of this proportion – is the reason that it became possible to roll out in time.
Teesta, or daughter, is moving into final year BMM from Jaihind College Mumbai and would be our Camera team cum Media person. On the verge of stepping out of her teens, she para-jumped into the expedition – literally. More from her cameras as we go along.
And finally we have Tanay, all of 13 years, going into standard 9th at Suncity School, Gurgaon – and the only thing he was worried for packing is – the football. His aim on this expedition is to play football with local kids wherever we halt. Always on a look out for kids playing something or the other. Tanay, at this age is missing a month plus of school to go onto this education for life. We are so happy to enable this for him. His only regret – is that we are in Moscow in FIFA World Cup opening and we are not watching a game.
Well thats the team … now back to story again.
Bit of a flashback – I began from home in Gurgaon on 26 April, did about 1900 kms and reached Guwahati for preparations in two and a half days, on 28 April. The road from NOIDA to Lucknow was unbelievably super – we pulled tremendous mileage. I am sure you are aware that there is a portion on highway Agra – Lucknow, where the fighter jets of Indian Airforce can land. Yes .. thats true.
At Lucknow, Rajat joined us and we rode together till Guwahati. Except the road from Lucknow to Gorakhpur that looks crowded, the rest of the roads have come up well. There are one million diversions and opposite coming traffic and goats – but, what the heck – a lot is getting better for roads in our country.
In Guwahati, we had a hectic 2 days of final coordination work and preps and we launched the ride right on time.
Given below in images are the glimpses of day wise activities with notes. Have a look and please do share the blog with family and friend, especially children.
Day 1 | 01 May 2018 | Guwahati to Dimapur | 280 kms
We rode out right on time at 7:30 am, to Pobitra National Park, 45 kms out of Guwahati – to watch some Rhinos in the wild, Pobitra has a remarkable density of one horned Indian Rhinos ( world’s highest – as they claim) and citing is definite. We saw over a dozen Rhinos in the grasslands, a wild boar and some species of birds. The abundant oxygen and freshness of jungle made us quickly forget the polluted cities we live in. Have a look at the pics of the day.
Day 2 | 02 May 2018 | Dimapur to Imphal | 210 kms
This was a tough day. Dimapur to Kohima is one of the worst roads to ride – and then to Imphal is no better. This surely was one ‘BAD ROADs Day’. It took us a full day and some night hours to make to Imphal. We did make a brief halt at Kohima War Cemetery and Zakhama War Memorial – you would like to know that British War Museum has nominated the battles of Imphal and Kohima to be the most significant battles ever fought by the British Army, ever . The rains did play truant several time. The neglect of this part of India is so obvious and sad – and I really wish things get better here – with Look East Policy. Have a look at the pics of the day.
Day 3 | 03 May 2018 | Imphal to Kale | 250 kms
This was a big day – we were scheduled to cross our first border – into Myanmar. So you cross a series of Assam Rifles, Immigration, Customs and again Assam Rifles border post – to get into Myanmar. The process went very smooth and seamless – and quite a few landmarks achieved in the day. It is interesting to know that Indian Border Roads Organisation constructed the first 80 km of road from Moreh – Tamu – now called the Friendship Road. Do you know that Myanmar is the world’s highest growing tourist destination? It whopping 400% year on year. Have a look at pics of the day.
Alright people, I am going to close now – its time to roll on. In the next blog we shall talk of the two most spectacular spots in Myanmar – The ultimate Old Bagan and the Life on Inle Lake. Here is something to smile …
Do keep watching this space for the stories. It would be great if some young children follow the travelogue – I believe it would be a good learning for them. Thanks once again for being here – do leave a comment and would be happy to answer anything you want to ask …
+91-997 1119 102 ( may not be active on the road)
PS: We are planning the next London Road Trip, from 15 April 2019.
This blog I have just started, is BIG, VERY BIG … and probably the most ambitious thing I have ever done in my life. Its a 20,000 km family road trip from Delhi to Scotland … On our Hyundai Creta (purchased for the purpose).
Have a look at this picture and what do you think are these guys doing? 🙂
This afternoon, I took the Creta for a pre Road Trip inspection – and these guys spent most of the evening asking me questions, about the route map on the bonnet. Of course they did declare the vehicle fit for the trip – after some checks.
Myself, Sarita (wife); Teesta (daughter) & Tanay (son) – are all super excited to be on a this 2 month trip.
While we traverse the 20,000 kms journey metre by metre, I promise to send you some very interesting stuff to read. Please Subscribe to my Blog to get these updates.
We would ride through – 16 Countries, cross 32 borders, change 7 time zones, see 2 continents over 20,000 kms in 55 days. We are 12 of us on 6 bikes and 2 SUVs. This is how the day wise itinerary would look like – please click on this link to view a detailed one :Guwahati to London : Detailed Plan
And the message for the World we wish to carry with us on the expedition is the one inspired by none other than our Prime Minister :
So if you like Travelogues … you are up for an exciting journey. Read the write up behind our truck …
Please don’t forget to subscribe to the blog and do share it. Thanks for following …
The year is coming to an end! And we will now get into reflecting what ‘got-done’ and what ‘did-not-get-done’ in the year. If i tell you that, we are inadvertently shrinking our kids – how would you react?
This blog is about the physical (and Mental) handicap our children are facing due to lifestyle changes of our society. We are increasingly getting less physical and more sedentary – that is not good.
I wonder if you have seen this1989 live-action comedy film – Honey, I Shrunk the Kids ! The plot goes like this – an inventor Prof. Szalinski experiments with an electromagnetic human shrinking machine. He leaves the device unattended; shortly afterwards, it is accidentally activated. Alas, the demon machine is aimed at his children. The kids, shrunk to 1/4-inch height, are tossed into the trash. For the rest of the film, our tiny protagonists attempt to gain their parents’ attention – to survive the wilds of the backyard, that threaten their well-being. Remember this as you read on …
In real life the subject is a lot more serious – right in front of our eyes – something like the film is happening to our kids. Inadvertently our generation of parents is poised to shrink (metaphorically :)) our kids and may be send them up a path of Counter Evolution**.
I am sure everyone remembers Mr Darwin and his theory ‘Survival of the Fittest’. Our physical human body got evolved as a great combination of intelligence, adaptability and strength – we are the nature’s best creation – we evolved in body as hunters and farmers. And so our physical constitution, complimented this strength to hunt for our food or grow crops. Both of these required physical labour – none of that hunting or farming we need to do today!
So what do you think is happening to our Body and its Capabilities? See the picture below, does it ring a bell?
Its only in last 2 decades we ushered in this big Shrinking Machine – the automation, technology and IT – making us lazy and glued to devices – resulting in massive reduction in physical activity. So most of us don’t farm, don’t hunt and don’t do any physicals. Mr Nature is pretty confused – this wonderful human physique was never designed to : Sit on chairs or bed …or Work on computers … or Look at some or the other screen ‘All Day’.
Lifestyle changes of the day is a large threat to the physical well-being of our societies than we could possibly think. And the worst hit segment of this change in society are “OUR KIDS”.
Now that is what I am calling – the body’s **Counter Evolution.
Modern kids are glued to screens of various kinds – I pads, Smart phones, LED TVs, Laptops, PSPs, X-Box, video games etc. The modern parents – both go to work – kids have lesser parent time – and they do what is easy and gratifying – Nothing. Thats the Catch.
Experts on Whats Happening to our Kids!
Children are Getting Weaker! This is interesting – a study published in the child health journal Acta Paediatrica compared children 10 years of age, 10 years apart (Year 1998- 315 children and Year 2008 – 309 children). Compared to 1998 group, 2008 children could do lesser sit ups ( -27%), had lesser arm strength (-26%), lesser number of them could not pull up their own weight (-50%) and, even more alarming is that kids of 2008 batch carried much more fat than muscle.
To summarize the study – “Children are becoming sedentary, weaker, less muscular, heavier, unable to do physical tasks that previous generations found simple.”
Well to do Children at more Risk! As per paediatricians – Dr Nidhish Nanavaty, prevalence of obesity is estimated to be 10% in children below 14 years of age while it shoots up to 50% in children of high-income families. Its the excessive nutrition to blame – too much is being given to children to eat. Children of wealthy parents are thus at a greater risk.
Problem we are not Solving? This problem at hand – is a typical Covey’s 2nd Quadrant item -‘important but not urgent’. So we all understand that it is a major problem but since it is not immediate, and not too urgent to solve, hence the ‘Action to Solve’ gets postponed. The devil is in Habits – of junk food, of addiction to modern gadgets, of sedentary lifestyle. What is the solution?
Questions and Suggestions If this lifestyle is not good for future of our kids … then what do we need to change?
Are kids screen addicted? This one is a killer of good habits. Being stuck to a screen is an addiction – kids leave one screen to go to the other. This is slowly affecting their social behaviour and health. It would pay if we do not provide the modern gadgets to the kids too early in age. Parents will have to fix the screen time for the children.
Are they doing enough Outdoors? One of the important healthy habit to nurture in children is to have a decent volume of physical activity everyday. They have tremendous energies and those need to be positively find expression. Sports and outdoors fill that gap very well.
Healthy Mind in Healthy Body – So how do we get this Outdoors and Physical activity into daily routines of our kids. Traditionally– this physical outdoor activity habit is inculcated in 3 forms –
Children should endeavour to play at least one field or team game – such as hockey, football, basket ball etc; Team games are known to develop body, character and team spirit.
Pick up one individual game – Individual games such as athletics, swimming, tennis, squash, badminton, taekwondo or golf – are known to develop physical fitness, skills, personal excellence and competitive spirit.
Its good to nurture one or two hobbies in outdoors space – trekking, wall climbing, biking, mountaineering, skiing, hiking, kayaking or canoeing etc.
Family Adventure Activities is Best Answer 🙂
The good Schools of the yore, normally would take care of above three things. Expecting to find these solutions in city schools is a long shot, but, taking your child out for an adventurous activity is in your hands for sure. In addition to many things that you would plan for year coming up – taking your children on outdoors adventure activity, should be high on your list. Not only does this increase family bonding, you would also give to your children, the most precious habit for life – the love of outdoors and open skies.
Parents seem to be overlooking the Shrinking Machine that is stunting their kids’ growth. May be its time for Parents to make a resolution for New Year – Break the sedentary lifestyle and …
Your Resolution could sound like – have an Outdoors Focus – Get them into some sports and take them out for a family adventure outing … You would do long term good to them … and launch them well in life!
“Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself …. ….. You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.”Khalil Gibran
I would be so keen to know what you think of it and how do we get out of this real life problem of our generation? Please leave a comment or suggestion.
I am back here with some pretty exciting news – its motorcycling.
This time its about the HIMALAYAN – a new Adventure focused Motorbike from the stable of iconic Royal Enfield. I represent The Outdoor Journal and have the opportunity to ride the bike for a couple of days with 40+ riders from various media houses and review the performance of the bike.
I landed in Chandigarh and were then brought up to Timber Trail for a quick bite and then a usual winding road up to Simla, the erstwhile British Summer Capital – twists and turns, traffic blues and some drizzle .. usual Simla highway stuff.
By evening we were at our hotel in Simla – the ‘Wildflower Hall’, arguably the most unique of the Oberoi’s properties. I did have a quick round of the hotel, which was built 15 years back in colonial style – with library and card rooms, et al. It definitely takes you back a hundred year – and here its just you, peace, quiet, nature and the understated luxury of hotel.
Evening was filled with a detailed briefing on the HIMALAYAN – Siddhartha Lal, MD & CEO, Eicher Motors Ltd, Mr Rudratej (Rudy) Singh, President Royal Enfield and Sachin Chavan, Rides and Community – spoke about the bike – philosophy & concept and the routes we would take over next 2 days.
On the route we would expect a happy mix of metalled roads, broken roads, un-metalled roads and some off-roading. I chose to be on Route 4 for Day One of the test-ride.
I am pretty excited to see how the following claims made by the leadership turns out –
“Himalayan is the culmination of Royal Enfield’s 60 years of enduring history in its spiritual home—the Himalayas … Large adventure tourers that currently define this category, do not fare well in the Himalayas as they are very heavy, extremely complicated, intimidating and not really designed for this environment. … the Himalayan is a simple and capable go-anywhere motorcycle that will redefine adventure touring in India.” Siddhartha Lal, MD & CEO, Eicher Motors Ltd
Mr Rudratej (Rudy) Singh, President Royal Enfield said,
“What excites me about our new motorcycle, is …. It allows both seasoned riders as well as enthusiasts to do more with just one motorcycle. The Himalayan … at the same time opens the roads (pun not intended) to many more people who will get the confidence that they can ride on and off the road less travelled, going beyond their day-to-day commuting needs.”
Keep reading for more. I am now off to the ride of day 1.