Jorge Sanchez (Spain):
In Kolkata I contacted a travel agency selling tours to Bhutan with Druk Air (in Sudder Street) and asked for a cheap tour, knowing that they do not accept individual tourism. It was the year 2000.
Then I was proposed to buy an individual tour for less than 350 US dollars (after bargaining), which included air plane ticket to Bhutan, 3 days in a hotel with three daily meals, plus excursions in a car with driver and guide. The way out to India would be overland, by jeep, to the Bhutanese village Phuntsholing, at the border with India.
Iaccepted the price immediately and several days later I flew to Paro, where my guide and driver were waiting for me to transfer me to my hotel in Thimpu, Bhutan capital.
The hotel consisted in pleasant bungalows scattered around a nice garden with the center in a cafeteria of eastern architecture. I was given a single bungalow. There were no more tourists in the hotel.
During three days, together with my guide and driver, I made several excursions to the villages in west and central Bhutan to visit monasteries, markets and lovely mountainous scenery, which visits made me feel in the seventh heaven for its beauty and delicacy of the culture of the Buddhist nation.
One of the excursions that I was promised was cancelled, what made me feel sad. It was to the Tiger Nest monastery, also called Taktsang, because it had been burnt down not long ago and had not yet been repaired. I only could see that monastery at a certain distance (I travelled to Bhutan in January 2000).
The fourth day I was sent in a jeep to Phuntsholing, a Bhutanese town, but shared with India. There is a gate separating the two countries, but you can travel from one part of the town to the other openly, without controls.
The next day, from Phuntsholing, I caught, first a bus, and then a train to Kolkata.
Date posted: September 2013
Have you been to Dzongs: the centre of temporal and religious authorities (Punakha Dzong, Wangdue Phodrang Dzong, Paro Dzong, Trongsa Dzo? Share your experiences!