A few interesting tips and caveats about traveling inside Bhutan. First of all be aware that independent travel is restricted in Bhutan, the only exception to this rule being for citizens of India and other SAARC countries. Other tourists need visit the country on pre-arranged tours organized by one of the many registered travel agencies in Bhutan. This article is mainly intended towards the Indians who are lucky enough to travel freely in this friendly and magnificent country.
There are only two of ways to enter Bhutan. One is by taking a flight directly to Paro, which is what all the international tourists do. And the other is by road through the border town ofPhuntsholing. Independant travel is discouraged in Bhutan and traveling inside the country is expensive for most tourists. They have to cough up close to 250$ per day for the pleasure of visiting the country, so you dont Â get to see independant backpackers there.Â This article is mostly intended for the tourists from the Indian sub-continent for whom the above restrictions don't apply. There are however a few permits to be obtained after which they are free to travel on their own within thisÂ magnificentÂ country.Â
The Jaisalmer experience started the moment i got on the train in Jodhpur. The insides of the sleeper coach was covered with layers and layers of fine sand, it was as if the train just came through a desert storm, maybe it did i'll never know. Anyway i was looking forward to visiting the desert city. Heard a lot about it from my friends, about its unique architecture, its well preserved 'living' fort city and ofcourse the sand dunes. I had also planned to spend the night at Kuri, a quaint little village some 40km southwest of Jaisalmer, the prospect of spending a quiet evening with a starry sky up above and the desert solitude to keep you company was too inviting to pass by.
If i could do it all over again, i would spend more time in Jodhpur. Two days was just not enough to experience the Blue city, it was definitely the most laid back, immersive, historical Rajasthan experience i had in my whole trip. Read on for more details.
The Pushkar Mela was the reason i decided to go on the Rajasthan trip during my 'extended' Diwali holidays. Once i knew that the camel fair will happen in the first week of November, there was no looking back and i wasn't disappointed. Read on..
The early part of my flight back from Leh, was spent staring out of the window, mesmerized by the snow clad mountain peaks and the valleys beneath them. The best part of it all was that i could take in the mountain landscape as a whole, everything.. all at once. As my sight wandered down from the lofty peaks, I could the beginning of a glacier and at its end the birth of a stream gentle at first and then turning into a raging torrent which cut a valley down the mountain slopes, which inturn gave life and space for a whole village. I could see valleys meet and the rivers merge.. mountains giving way to hills (Manali, i think...) and the hills finally meeting the plains where then i could see the birth of the mighty Ganges. The mother of all Indian rivers...
Tigers always fascinated me and its been a long dream of mine to see them in the wild. However i never ever dreamed that i could get close to one and touch it. Ever since i saw the documentary on the Tiger temple in the Discovery channel i've wanted to go there. And it should be no surprise that when i decided to go to Thailand the tiger temple was on the top of my list of places to visit.
Kanchanaburi was to be my first stop on my first trip to Thailand. And there was only one place i had in mind.. to visit the tiger temple at the Wat Pa LungtaHua monastery on the outskirts of the Kanchanaburi town. So eager was i that i did not even plan on staying in Bangkok, just get off the plane (from Beijing) and catch a bus to Kanchanaburi. Read on to find out how my Kanchanaburi trip went..
[Krabi Province, Thailand. 4'th - 9'th Mar 2006] Railay was going to be my first taste of beach life in Thailand. I was never a beach person, guess you can say that i'll feel like a fish out of water on the beaches :). With all its rock climbing options, Railay was an obvious choice for me. I'll go sign up for one of the climbing classes and slowly get acclimatised to the beach. This time, for once, surprisingly everything worked out exactly as i had hoped for.
[Krabi Province, Thailand. 9'th - 11'th Mar 2006] After Railay, Ko Phi Phi was next on my island hopping list. Its is also located in the Krabi province and is famous for its coral reefs and limestone cliffs. The Phi Phi archipelago has two rather prominent islands, Ko Phi Phi Don the bigger sibling with the accommodation and other niceties. Ko Phi Phi Leh, the smaller sibling is technically uninhabited and can be done as a day trip from the larger island. If you guys remember the movie "Beach", it was shot at Maya Bay which is located on Ko Phi Phi Leh and is a major tourist attraction.
My Agra trip happened as an afterthought, i didn't even consider it initially. Then someone asked me if i'll be going to Agra and i thought to myself "why not ??... if im going all the way to Delhi i might as well visit Agra and get it off the list". It is like the great wall, i didn't visit it when i went to China the first time and i had to endure the constant "Did you go to the great wall ?? Did you go to the great wall ???" questions for a whole year. I didn't want the same to happen with the Taj Mahal, and anyway i wanted to see what the fuss was all about and i was excited about visiting it..
On the days leading up to the Chinese new year, the whole of China shuts down. I was caught unawares at KangDing and was stuck there for a couple of days before deciding to turn back to ChengDu and go on north towards Songpan and JiuZhaiGou. It was two days before the buses started running towards Songpan and i was on it along with a bunch of other people eager to experience the beauty of JiuZhaiGou first hand. I was also looking forward to JiuZhaiGou as the highlight of my trip and considered Songpan as just a stop over point to kill a cpl of days. I was going to be pleasantly surprised.
After having cancelled the trip already in September, we were all eager to go to the great wall before the winter set in. After a lot of research on the web i decided that we will trek two sections of the great wall Gubeikou to JinShanLing on the first day, spend the night at the Jinshanling village and then do the JinShanLing to SiMaTai section on the second day. The Gubeikou to JinShanLing section was supposed to be unrestored, raw and wild with a army camp blocking its way in the middle of the section.
For the Chinese New year holidays i decided to go to HuangShan. I was looking forward for a change of scenery from the usual tibetian mountains that im drawn to. And what better place than HuangShan to get a perfect taste of the Chinese mountain scenery. The Chinese people, and poets alike, never seem to tire of coming up with new ways to praise the HuangShan scenery. And all the photo's i've seen of the place seem to backup their claim. I was a bit circumspect about going there during winter but after a bit of research i found that the winter scenery is supposed to be the best with clear blue skies and the trees and mountains covered by snow. One day before i was due to leave it was snowing in Huangshan...