A looooong drive

Just for a change (not), we had an early rise as today would be another long one. Breakfast was the usual eggs, toast and the like. The family’s little kitten was floating around, meowing and mooching bits of scrambled egg. While I was playing with him, he bit my nose. Chewed on, blood drawn and all I could think of was “aw, cute”.

With all our bags securely packed in the 4×4, we were driven outside of Thimpu to the Tango monastery. This was a moderately short trek uphill – around 45 minutes – and well worth the visit. Most of the monks were on holiday, so it was being run by a skeleton staff. It’s wonderful being able to view something like that without the bustle of tourists, as well. Seeing a Buddhist temple is certainly best when it’s as silent as can be.

We walked back down the hill and jumped into the car to be taken back to the city. Hans and I walked around the Saturday Vegetable Market while Jamyang kindly sent our postcards on their way for us. The market was interesting, though… marketty. The food looked delicious, and I can pretty much guarantee it was all organic and GM free!

Our next stop was for a quick lunch and then back into our chariot for the long drive to Phuentsholing, the border-town with India. We had a one-hour gap to reach a certain part of the main highway as it is shut most hours for roadworks. We made it dot on 12:30, just as it opened, and meandered along mountain roadways for another five hours.

It was a little hairy at times, especially when the cloud cover came right down, but Tshewang is a more than capable driver and we got to our destination in one piece.

Now, at this point, Hans and I expected to be dropped off to cross the border and make our way to a hotel in India for the night. Therefore, we were surprised when we were driven to a hotel, arrangements made for dinner and our bags taken up to a room. It seemed that, as it was late, we’d be spending the night in Bhutan and crossing the border in the morning. Result – this saves us a night’s accommodation as well as the hassle of actually finding somewhere.

One problem arose in that the bus to Siliguri leaves here at 7am, which is the same time that the immigration offices open. This would make it nigh on impossible to get through immigration and catch the bus.

But, this reckons without our exceptionally helpful hosts. Jamyang and Tshewang first of all checked out all the bus and taxi information for us. Then they walked us to the Indian immigration office (which meant crossing the border slightly illegally) and getting us stamped into India this evening. So we were, according to our passports, inside both India and Bhutan simultaneously.

While we were there, we spotted autorickshaws; mosquitoes flew around; and the power went. We were most definitely back in India.

Back on the Bhutanese side, we were stamped out before returning to our hotel. We are currently physically in Bhutan, but as far as all our paperwork is concerned we’re in India. This simply means that in the morning, we get on the bus and head off. Nice and easy.

So we’re now ensconsed in a comfy hotel room with a TV and it’s Saturday night. Yes, the TV has sports channels. Yes, I’m watching the footie.

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