23 June 2013

Driving from Phuentsholing to Thimphu

Day Five

We had one more long day on the road planned. From Phuentsholing to Thimphu is anywhere from 140 to 175 kilometers, depending on the road signs or maps you read. Google maps times it at about a ninety-minute drive. Realistically, it's six or seven hours. But here's the thing: Drivers in Bhutan are so mellow that it's not a stressful drive. It's relaxing. There are plenty of stops along the way for stretching legs and getting a snack. Everyone is driving slowly and there are guardrails along most of the corners so you aren't afraid for your life every five minutes.

Our tour guide was Bhutanese but had gone to university in Chennai, India, so when we told him how much Muffin loved dosa and idli, he understood right away the importance of a South Indian breakfast and knew of a spot where we could get one. The Indian army has installations throughout Bhutan and along the main road between Phuentsholing and Thimphu there is an army canteen. It was the perfect place to stop for a snack, a couple hours after we'd been on the road. We had some great chai along with dosa, idli, and vada. A couple hours later we had another snack stop, where there was a nice green pasture with grazing cows for Muffin to wander around for a bit before getting back into the car. (She was also finding it unappealing to use some of the bathrooms along the way, taking a look and saying "I want to go outside instead." She didn't mind the cows and the cows didn't mind her.)

It was cold and rainy when we arrived in Thimphu but before going to the hotel it was necessary to stop at Memorial Chorten to spin the prayer wheels and circumambulate at least three times in a clockwise direction.
Memorial Chorten on a sunny day. (Image from wikipedia.)
Our hotel was Peaceful Resort and it was located above the city, far enough away so that we couldn't wander around to get some dinner or do some shopping. But it was nice to take a walk and let Muffin play outside safely along the road with few cars going by.

The balcony had a Muffin cage.
And a very short door.
When we arrived this chair was mysteriously placed in front of the mirror.
Some sort of Buddhist mystery to ponder?
I had read in a guidebook, or perhaps on wikitravel, that the dogs in Bhutan don't sleep at night. Yikes. We thought we were used to dogs barking in India, but these guys were nonstop all night long except when it was raining and thundering too loudly to hear them.

Fortunately, we did not have an early morning on the road planned for the next day. We had a full day of sight-seeing in Thimphu, including a nice morning hike.

Day Six Coming Soon

Day One: 8 Days on the Road from Darjeeling to Bhutan
Day Two: Some Enforced Site-Seeing in Darjeeling
Day Three: Aloobari Monastery: Escaping Darjeeling to See Some Nature
Day Four:  We Made the Long Journey from Darjeeling to Phuentsholing

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