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Stranded in the streets of Bhutan!

I got the opportunity to visit Bhutan in Jan 2006.

I had been planning a long vacation with my wife for a long time. I searched the Internet extensively and was very impressed with the information I got about Bhutan.

Most of the websites of Bhutan tourism are made keeping the Americans and the Europeans in mind. They have to apply for a visa and have to come through a government of Bhutan authorised travel agent.

Foreigners have to pay around $200 per day for food and accommodation. These fees are compulsory. This makes Bhutan probably one of the costliest destinations in the world.

Airfare for Rs 599 and less!

I wrote to the Ministry of Tourism of Bhutan and I got the answers that I was expecting. Bhutan has a great relationship with India and Indians are treated very well. I was informed that Indians do not require a passport to enter Bhutan. Any identity card issued by the government of India sufficient. Even a driving license will do.

Indians can travel freely, they do not have to pay in USD. This was indeed very good news for me. I planned my journey to the minutest details and made most of the reservations over the internet. My wife and I took the Dadar-Guwahati Express from Mumbai on December 28, 2005 and reached New Jalpaiguri on December 30 early in the morning.

The train journey was very tiring. One thing I hated about the journey was that there were beggars and hawkers roaming around even in the 3AC compartment. The attendant did nothing to prevent this. I think he must be getting favours from those people. The food was not good, but we can rarely expect anything good on our trains.

Text and photograph: Carol Nettar
Also read: Visiting the Holy and High Abode of Shiva!

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