Tour Package || Bhutan on Budget

The Trip

This edition of our Bhutan trip is meant for the backpackers, for the budget travelers, and everyone in between. Take part in this 1-week adventure in the land of happiness with EIT and explore the vast mountains, the royal monasteries and so much more!

 Day 01:

Arrival at Phuentsholing. Transfer to Thimphu. Travel Time – 6.5 – 7 hours.
Check into hotel

 Day 02:

Local sightseeing after breakfast (Memorial Chorten, Buddha Statue, Thimphu Dzong, Takin Reserve,
National Museum of Textiles)
Evening sightseeing (Changankha Lhakhang and sightseeing left over from previous day) and shopping etc.

 Day 03:

Mild hike to a monastery near Thimphu
Personalised postal stamps at Thimphu Post Office, and evening free for rest and shopping

 Day 04:

Check out of hotel after early breakfast & leave for Punakha district. Travel time – 2 hours.
All sightseeing in Punakha via Dochu La Pass (Chimi Lhakhang, Punakha Dzong & iron suspension bridge)
Evening free for rest after a hectic day

 Day 05:

Early breakfast & leave for Paro Travel time – 3 hours
Local sightseeing at Paro (Paro Dzong, Dungtse Lhakhang, Kichyu Monastery)
Evening free for rest

 Day 06:

Early breakfast and begin climb to Tiger’s Nest/Taktsang. Climb will take about 2.5 – 3 hours.
Evening visit National Museum and thereafter go shopping/exploration in Paro town

 Day 07:

Departure from Paro after breakfast

This itinerary can be customised to include a longer stay in Thimphu, especially for first time visitors to the country. However, the Price Tag will then change

Note: Bhutan trips are planned in association with our travel partners, Easeindiatravel

For reading a traveler’s 1st hand experience please click Here

For Tariff

or

you can directly contact our tour partners, “EASEINDIATRAVEL“on info@easeindiatravel.com. Mention Yatripandit’s name to get special tarrifs.

Please click on the ads which appear on the website. This blog is still very young and growing. If you like the story, do not shy away from reciprocating your love in form of likes comments and sharing on social media

Cheers !!

Guest Post || 11 tips for traveling in Japan – by Globazine

We compiled a list of eleven tips and tricks that can make your stay in Japan easier, more efficient, cheaper and special! We even threw in some bonus tips. Let us know your tips in the comments down below or on social media!

 Tip one

If, like us, you are planning to see a lot of Japan, make sure you order the Japan Rail Pass in advance. There are several rules conditions of use and requirements for eligibility, so check the official site for more information.

Although now, the Rail Pass can be bought as part of a trail in Japan, it really pays off to order it in advance since that is much cheaper. Prices differ following exchange rate differences and between companies. So, it pays to shop around. We used Japan Experience and were really satisfied with their service.

Tip two

This tip mainly concerns those of you going to use the train and public transport. To plan your journey, use the website and or app HyperDia. They have the latest timetables for all the trains in Japan, both for the different Japan Railways (JR) companies and all the private companies operating in Japan.

The app can do a Japan Rail Pass search, providing you with all the options which are free with your Japan rail pass. To enable this option you must pay €2.99, the app and website themselves are free to use.

Tip three

Another railway tip. When travelling by train, make sure you reserve a (window)seat before departure. You can do this at the station, until five minutes for departure, but also in advance for the rest of your trip, if you already know which train you plan to take. Making a reservation is not mandatory, but it ensures your seat on the train, as the trains can be quite full.

train-view
A scenic view from Train

Bonus Tip Look for the Limited Express (WIDE VIEW) trains for even better views. They are for example available in the Japanese Alps between Nagano and Matsumoto and between Toyama and Nagoya.

Tip four

If you do not want to feel lost in Kanji-translation during your whole trip, we have some tips for translation help. Technology is advancing at a rapid pace and one area where a lot of advances have been made in, is machine translation. Translate apps can scan menu’s and signs and even translate speech back and forth. Although the universal translator still is a few years away, these free apps come pretty close.

Microsoft translator

Google translate

Tip five

Roaming costs may be a thing of the past inside the EU, but roaming can still carry quite a hefty price elsewhere. There are two solutions for this problem, our preferred solution is using a pocket Wi-Fi. The alternative is buying a Japanese SIM card for your phone. The advantage of the SIM card is the price, they are a lot cheaper than a pocket Wi-Fi. But the pocket Wi-Fi has the advantage that you can connect several different devices to it at once and so spare the battery life of your phone. The disadvantage of the SIM in your phone is that at the moment it’s not easy to tether and have a VPN running at the same time. If you’re a bit privacy minded this might be a disadvantage for you.

You can order a pocket Wi-Fi in advance and have it mailed to the airport where you arrive or the hotel you’ll be staying at. If you want to get the best of both worlds, then buy a pocket Wi-Fi device for yourselves and use a pre-paid SIM card of the country that you are travelling to.

Tip six

This tip concerns booking the best places to stay. We just loved to alternate between staying in hotels and staying in an Airbnb to experience best of both worlds: the luxury of hotels and the insights that Airbnb apartments can give in the Japanese lifestyle. There is not much price difference between either option in Japan. The main tip wherever you want to stay, is to arrange your stays as early as possible to secure the best stay on the best location for the best price. Don’t think in days or weeks, think in months in advance. Especially for stays in popular cities like Tokyo and Kyoto, or popular/special places like Beppu and Koyasan. The same is also valid when you want to stay in a Ryokan or sleep in a temple.

However, be aware when using Airbnb, and this happens quite a lot: if the host says they offer only half a bathroom, it really is just half a bathroom, without a shower.

Tip seven

Arrange to stay in Osaka if you are planning to visit Kyoto. Osaka is just a short 15-minute train ride away, but the restaurants and nightlife are just something else and won’t bore you. Trust us, you won’t be disappointed.

osaka
A night in Osaka

Tip eight

We can’t give tips about Japan without giving some advice on where to go. And while tastes and interests differ, here are some of our favourite places to visit:

  • It takes some time to get there, but we cannot think of much that beats our stay in a temple in Koyasan, joining the morning prayer with the monks and strolling around in the mystic mountains.

  • Cycling on the modern art island Naoshima was a very welcome change from all the temples and pagoda’s that we saw right before and after our stay there.

  • When in Tokyo, a must visit is the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, where you can have a free panoramic view from the top floor. Another insiders tip is the boat ride from Hama-rikyu garden to Asakusa. Read our Tokyo itinerary for more tips.

Tip nine

japanese-alps
Japanese Alps

If you are going to travel on the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, read here to see why we advise you to do. Then our tip: buy the ticket in advance at certain JR rail stations. This gives you a reduction of 25% and will save you 3.090 yen per ticket. See this website for more information on where and how to buy these relatively cheap tickets.


Tip ten

Get your breakfast at the convenience store (7-Eleven, Lawson, etc). This way you can eat on the way to your first activity of the day and save some money at the same time. You can even choose to do this when you are staying in a hotel, as excluding the breakfast option will save you more money than a convenience store breakfast will cost. And while you’re at it get some bento boxes for lunch.

Bonus tip 7-Eleven is the best place for finding ATM’s that work with European bank cards.

Tip eleven

Get up early, so you arrive at the main highlights before the tourist busses do. Especially when you are planning to visit great sites as the Golden Pavilion in Kyoto. You don’t want all your photos ruined by crazy tourist groups, do you? An added bonus depending on the season is the beautiful and photogenic qualities of morning light.

About Globazine:

pic of olga and timWe’re Tim and Olga, a married Dutch couple, living in Brussels and traveling the world for work and pleasure. Tim is a history nerd (studied history and tries to cover all the bits and pieces that are left of the Roman empire) and Olga loves art (Johannes Vermeer, Edvard Munch, Yayoi Kusama are one of her favorites). We prepare our travels very well, to be able to pack as much art, culture, history and nature as possible in our days.

With Globazine, we want to share our travel experiences, tips, tricks and pleasure. Hoping to inspire others to get the most out of their travel experiences. We write most of the content ourselves, but we’ll also ask our friends to write about their travels, to have a more exhaustive overview of possible destinations for you.

More from Globazine:

  • globazine.com
  • @Globazine1 on Twitter
  • @Globazine on Facebook
  • globazinegram on Instagram

 

Disclaimer:  *Contents in this story is Authors personal views and presentation.

* All pictures by Tim and Olga

If you also want to get featured as a guest author on yatripandit.com, share your story with us on info@yatripandit.com

Please click on the ads which appear on the website and help us earn some money to travel. This blog is still very young and growing. If you like the story, do not shy away from reciprocating your love in form of likes comments and sharing on social media

Cheers !!

Abhimanyu@yatripandit

Guest Post || Walking the way of St. James through Portugal and Spain – by Kay Bolden

El Camino de Santiago — The Way of Saint James — is the pilgrimage on foot to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Spain, where Saint James the Elder are entombed. The Camino has existed as a spiritual pilgrimage for well over 1,000 years. In medieval times, completing the arduous journey could “pay off” a debt of sin, making amends for any wrong the pilgrim had done.

On the Camino de Santiago
On the Camino de Santiago

The medieval peregrino (pilgrim) almost always walked the Way for serious religious reasons, finding lodging and food where he might, and depending upon the kindness of strangers. But today, modern peregrinos have more varied goals, such as physical challenge or self-discovery. We sleep in hostels with hot running water, instead of in stables or under the stars. A popular route is the Camino Francés, with a starting point in St. Jean-Pied-du-Port, although there are many other routes. 

Gifts for Pilgrims
Gifts for Pilgrims

          

I chose the Camino Portugués, a 150-mile trek up the rocky coast of Portugal and into Spain. I was not seeking spiritual enlightenment … only solitude and physical challenge. The route required 10-12 miles of walking daily, on paths as varied as rough cobblestones, muddy hillsides, tree-lined sidewalks and dangerous roads. Without a map, a pilgrim simply follows the yellow arrows and scallop shells painted onto trees and boulders and sidewalks, trusting that the route will lead them to Santiago de Compostela.

Coast of Portugal
Coast of Portugal

           

So at age 55, I set off alone from the coastal town of Porto. I hugged the untamed Portuguese coastline in almost complete silence, encountering few others on the journey. Wearing my backpack and my scallop shell – the symbol of a pilgrim – I wandered through fishing villages and small towns, where people seemed to still live in the 19th century. Old men bringing in their catches on wooden boats, grandmas cleaning oysters by hand, children squealing as they played on the docks, the mournful lighthouse foghorn, calling the fishermen in from the sea.

They would see my scallop shell, hanging from my backpack, and smile at me. The children would wave shyly, peering at my funny hat and my heavy hiking boots. The old ones would tell the young ones, “She is on her way to Santiago. God bless her. Bom Caminho (Good Journey).”

Follow the Yellow Arrows to Santiago
Follow the Yellow Arrows to Santiago

The people who live in the cities and towns dotting the Camino have a long relationship with the legend of St. James. They believe that a pilgrim on the Way is under his protection; to harm a pilgrim is a terrible sin. To help a pilgrim – to offer food or libation or lodging – will please St. James, and result in more blessings for their families.

In the beginning, I found this attention rather quaint, but pointless. After all, I was working on the mental and physical challenges of the trek; the religious or spiritual aspects didn’t seem connected to me at all.

As I passed through a tiny village on the third day, a man dressed in rags stuffed chunks of fresh baked bread into my hand. I tried to give him money, but he shook his head, aghast that he should be rewarded. “St. James will provide for me,” he said happily in Portuguese. “Bom Caminho.” A thin little girl threw her arms around my legs, slowing me down to give me apples and cheese. A priest standing in the doorway of a tiny stone church blessed me as I walked by.

It wasn’t until I crossed the International Bridge into Spain on the sixth day that the spiritual power of the Camino was revealed to me: I got lost. Somehow, I’d made a wrong turn, missed a yellow arrow, and was now wandering in the woods, the sun sinking fast, with my hostel nowhere in sight. My phone battery had long since died, and I was exhausted, having already walked 14 miles.

I sat down under a tree, growing afraid for the first time since I left Chicago. How far from the city was I? I didn’t know. Where had turned wrong? I couldn’t tell. I fingered my scallop shell and thought about all the pilgrims through the ages who had found themselves lost in the dark, but found the will to keep going. I snacked on grapes and bread, the gifts of strangers. And after resting a bit, I got to my feet. I would do as all pilgrims had done for thousands of years; I would trust St. James, and keep walking.

No sooner had I made that decision, four elderly gentlemen came out of the woods, laughing and talking and sharing a bottle of wine. They came to me at once, and although we couldn’t speak each other’s language, they understood that I was lost. They gathered me into the center of their little group and walked with a little way deeper into the woods, where they showed me a footbridge, an underpass and the route to the city of O Porrino. “Buen Camino,” they called out in Spanish, as they disappeared back into the forest.

It was many more days until I arrived at the grand Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. I found that my entire attitude had changed as I walked the Way. I was filled with gratitude for all the people who had so little themselves, but shared their food and love with me. Instead of keeping to myself, I waved to fisherman and other pilgrims, taking pictures of their beautiful boats and farms.

Sunrise Just Outside Santiago
Sunrise Just Outside Santiago

At the Cathedral, I visited the shrines and dodged the crowds. Tourists gushed about how sacred the golden artifacts were, but I knew the truth. The real transformation had already happened, as I walked on the Way.

Kay Bolden, Travel WriterAbout the Author:

Kay Bolden is a travel writer, blogger and newspaper columnist who encourages women to travel solo and discover their inner strengths. Follow her travels on her blog, KayBolden.com, or on Twitter @KayBolden.

She has successfully published 2 books(Check links below) and the 3rd one about  Camino de Santiago will be available on Amazon on August 11.

iii) More Wine, Please

At age 55, I set out alone on the Camino de Santiago. Unlike religious pilgrims, I was not seeking God, but three weeks of silence and solitude. The Camino, however, had other plans for me. Available on Amazon August 11, 2017.

ii) Veggie Casserole: Kids Cook the Darndest Things 

When kids grow their own veggies, they eat them, too! Veggie Casserole is filled with recipes, gardening tips and ideas for reconnecting our kids to whole, healthy food.

https://www.amazon.com/Veggie-Casserole-Kids-Darndest-Things/dp/150872038X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1500466803&sr=8-1&keywords=veggie+casserole+bolden

i) She Lives in You! The Kathleen Bolden Story is a memoir of community organizer, civil rights activist and social justice warrior, the late Kathleen Bolden.

https://www.amazon.com/She-Lives-You-Kathleen-Bolden-ebook/dp/B00I8M9P7G/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1500466913&sr=8-1&keywords=she+lives+in+you+bolden

 

Disclaimer:  *Contents in this story is Authors personal views and presentation.

** All pictures by Kay Bolden

If you also want to get featured as a guest author on yatripandit.com, share your story with us on info@yatripandit.com

Please click on the ads which appear on the website and help us earn some money to travel. This blog is still very young and growing. If you like the story, do not shy away from reciprocating your love in form of likes comments and sharing on social media

Cheers !!

Abhimanyu@yatripandit

 

God’s Own Country – Kerala

I love traveling! It doesn’t matter whether the destination is at, above or below sea level. As you know, I work for a corporate house as well getting long leaves is a herculean task. I try to utilize all the long weekends and convert them into holidays. Trust me, it’s not that difficult when you plan in advance and have great set of friends to accompany you. I had 4 of them with me.

Last year, we eyed on 15th August (Independence Day Holiday in India) long weekend and planned a 5 day trip to Kerala – God’s own country.

Flight tickets – Check

Accommodation – Check

Intercity Transfers – Check

After a few morning hiccups and winning over a hefty traffic jam on the way to Pune airport, we   on-boarded a morning flight from Pune to Kochi. We landed at the beautiful Kochi Airport to find our pre-booked cab waiting for us at the airport.

IMG_20160815_165324306_HDR
Kochi Airport

It was a neat, a bit old but well maintained Toyota Innova(my fav car for longer roadtrips). I am always hungry to taste local food while traveling; the cabbie took us to a local restaurant in Kochi to enjoy some delicious local Kerala food.

We commenced our voyage to Munnar aka Kashmir of the south. En route Munnar our eyes could not stop peeping outside the car window without blinking. Mesmerized by the beauty of Valara waterfalls we got out of the cabs to click some memories. Valara falls, where the water cascades from an altitude of about 1000 mts, which itself was a treat to eyes and the camera lens. Munnar is known for magnificent waterfalls, we could not visit all (remember lack of leaves for this poor corporate junkie) here is a brilliant article which gives a great insight. http://www.munnar.com/waterfalls-in-munnar.htm#waterfalls.

Where to Stay? – We stayed in Hotel Munnar black forest www.munnarblackforest.com. It’s a budget hotel located on Kochi Munnar road. Rooms are not that great neither the food is. We do not recommend this hotel and search for better options. Munnar is full of better stay options.

Places to visit in Munnar – This gorgeous hill station in Western Ghats is located at 1600mts above sea level. The height and the climate make it apt for tea plantations. We witnessed the whole of mountains covered with tea estates till horizon. The green leafy carpet and the aura of tea plantations surely make it an #instagram paradise. We even managed to gate crash an estate on the way to breathe tea and some perfect clicks.

  • Munnar Tea Museum – As they say,” tea doesn’t ask silly questions, it understands.” When you have such a huge yield of tea, it needs to be processed, packed and marketed as well. This tea museum imparts you enough knowledge on how a tea leaf is converted and marketed as the tea which we use in our households. Established in 2005 previously owned by Tata’s and now by Kanan Devan Hills Plantations Company (P) Ltd. (KDHP), this museum has so many historic machinery and models still preserved in good shape. They show a short film which depicts the history of Munnar and its lovely tea plantations. After the film, it also offers a tour to the factory in which you can see and learn the technicalities involved in processing your favorite beverage to come out of morning blues every day. You can taste and buy some tea varieties e.g ginger, masala, green and white tea.

Baith jata hun wahan, Chai bann rahi ho Jahan.

  • Mattupetty Dam – This dam is built near the confluence of mountain streams of Muthirappuzha, Chanduvarai and Kundale Rivers. It is used to generate electricity using hydel power. The large amount of water favors wild animals and birds to flourish. There are a few small shops to buys some local stuff like cardamom, masala and some munchies.

Places to visit in Alappuzha – This laid back heaven in south India is also known as Alleppey and Venice of the East. Well known for the backwaters, canals, lagoons and houseboats.

  • Backwaters – Shikara(boat) ride across the backwaters is a must do and you may book the ride right from the boarding point at the river side. Ask locals or hotel reception for guidance. Avoid hiring the boat through any agent as you might strike a cheaper deal at the boarding point. There are public boat buses which run across this city of Venice … oops; Alleppey.

While on the boat tour cruising on the backwaters; close your eyes, spread yours arms wide and feel the wind pass through your body. The water is clean, calm and serene. One can write books on the breathtaking beauty of this lake city. It surely is a honeymooner’s paradise, a painter’s painting, a poet’s lyrics and a musician’s beats. The song which kept on playing in my head during this trip, as Godsmack brilliantly sung, “I need serenity and a place where I can hide.”

Link to the song:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2A4Km5PTu5o

Alleppey also has a beach which is usually crowded and not very clean.

Stay in Alleppey – This being  an important tourist destination you can find many stay options from budget homestays to exotic 5 stars. Houseboat can also be a unique idea to stay which serve you great food, comfortable bedrooms and tidy western toilets while sailing across the backwaters. We stayed in a mid-ranged 3 star resort called Pagoda Resort which can be booked here www.pagodaresorts.com. The rooms are comfortable and food is to be relished forever (we were there at the time of kerala food festival). In Pagoda resort, you must gift yourself a kerala ayurvedic massage therapy, to help you forget the worldly affairs, work pressure, targets and let you meet your better and relaxed self. We opted for the relaxing Shirodhara and I vouch for it totally.

When to Go – In Munnar the weather is pleasant throughout the year but if you do not like rains avoid going in Monsoon (June, July and October) season as it rains cats, dogs and sometimes elephants too. Whereas in Alleppey summers are hot and winters is the best season to explore. Or you may plan Alappuzha at the time of Nehru Trophy Boat Race, held on the Punnamada Lake, on the second Saturday of August every year (we missed it by a week).

What to eat – I strongly recommend eating local food which includes idli, rice, appam, uttapam, dosa, sambhar, rasam, etc. Kerala is known for sea food. One must also try variety of chips/ wafers which are a local delicacy. We enjoyed an authentic south Indian meal and various other food items served on a banana leaf at the very famous Sarvana Bhavan in Munnar.

After cruising about 450 kMs(excluding the air travel) through a few cities and villages, beautiful landscapes, mystic mountains, pleasant waterfalls, a soothing beach, a healing ayurvedic massage, lip smacking kerala food and mesmerizing backwaters we ended up this amazing journey to the God’s Own Country with some memories to be cherished for lifetime.

We can help you plan one such trip. Please write to us on info@yatripandit.com

Abhimanyu@yatripandit

Please click on the ads which appear on the website and help us earn some money to travel. This blog is still very young and growing. If you like the story, do not shy away from reciprocating your love in form of likes comments and sharing on social media

Guest Post || Going up the peak, Hong Kong – by Becca

Our second day in Hong Kong couldn’t have been better. It started off with shock, when we realized we’d somehow managed to sleep in until 1pm, but I haven’t been able to sleep in weeks due to excitement so the rest was well needed. All day today we’ve been full of energy and have recovered from our jet lag so it’s done us a favor.

It was 28-30 degrees and unlike yesterday the sun was out, the skies were blue and the mist and fog was non- existent. The ideal weather for going up Victoria peak.


We decided to go for lunch at an Italian place called Spasso near our hotel; yesterday we met a lovely Philippino woman who worked there and we said we would go back another day. She was delighted that we kept our promise and seated us outside by the main road with gorgeous, clear view of Hong Kong across the water.

With full stomachs and well-needed increased blood sugar levels, we made our way down to the pier to get on the ferry to Hong Kong island. On our stroll I noticed how nicely the Asian women dressed; some looked cute in knee-high floral dresses with frilly sleeves, others in dungarees or three quarter length baggy trousers.
A ticket for the ferry to central pier cost only 3.40HKD, the equivalent to 30p! The waves were gentle and the water was a deep turquoise colour. Whilst gazing out the window I realised I’d never felt so content. I had no working phone, no make up, no worries and no rush to be anywhere. There’s no better feeling than realising this feeling will go on for weeks to come.

We caught a taxi from central pier to the peak tram station. Walking would only take you about half an hour, but in the heat when you don’t know where you’re going, paying 28HKD (£2.70) won’t break the bank.


Whatever you do, DO NOT be put off by the queue for the tram. It goes really quickly and you’re in such a happy daydream that waiting doesn’t bother you. We sat on the wooden seats of the bumpy tram and got some fantastic views on the city in daylight.


Once at the top, the view got even better, Hong Kong resembled a little lego town, the clouds surrounding the skyscrapers at eye level. We decided to save our ticket for the peak until dark, so we explored the shopping centre inside and took a walk down a dainty pathway, wrapped up in exotic foliage.


We then chose to wait in a romantic little restaurant for a pint of Budweiser until the sun had gone to sleep. The garden was dressed in fairy lights and tropical foliage gave it a chilled out feel. Once again the staff were more than friendly and even gave us mosquito spray to prevent us from getting bitten.

img_5120-1
Finally the time had come for us to take ourselves 428 metres above sea level to admire the city lit up from above. To say it was the most beautiful site I had ever seen would be an understatement. The fog had been kind to us again and disappeared, the warm weather reminded me of toasty evenings in Bulgaria after sunset. Looking at all the windows and lights put into perspective just how populated Hong Kong actually is. It got me thinking about all the people behind the windows and their individual lives.  Some would be sleeping, some eating, some working, some young, some old. It made the world feel much bigger rather than small for once. We got some great photos, but they will never do the real thing any justice.


Before getting the ferry back to our hotel, we stopped off at Mak’s noodles in one of the shopping centres up the peak. The staff brought us free, unlimited top ups of green tea and we enjoyed authentic Chinese food. They had loads of vegetarian/ pescatarian options which made me happy! I had shrimp wonton noodle soup and chestnut mushrooms.

About the author :

Rebecca Gouldbourne fondly know as Becca is an fantastic human and fellow travel blogger. She is on a world tour and always encourages yatripandit.com.

She de12140710_10153362259534081_109508521977048061_nscribes herself as,” my name is Becca (usually referred to as ‘the small one’ or ‘the one with the laugh’). I’m 22, but still a child at heart. I come from the South Coast of England and have an obsession with dogs, food, sun and people. After studying journalism with creative writing and graduating from Kingston university, I have now decided to break free from my repetitive routine to go and explore the real world.” You can keep a track of Becca’s travel tales by clicking the link https://small-feet-big-steps.com/

 

Disclaimer:  *Contents in this story is Authors personal views and presentation.

If you also want to get featured as a guest author on yatripandit.com, share your story with us on info@yatripandit.com

Please click on the ads which appear on the website and help us earn some money to travel. This blog is still very young and growing. If you like the story, do not shy away from reciprocating your love in form of likes comments and sharing on social media

Cheers !!

Guest Post || Bhutan beyond Mountains and Monasteries – by Neha

When I informed my dear ones that I was going on a trip to Bhutan, many of them questioned my decision; some reasoned Bhutan was not an interesting place to travel, some asserted there were only monasteries to see there, some suggested I should go to Ladakh instead. While a few baffled at my choice, just asked ‘Why?’

My only reply to all of them was – ‘You will know when I get back!’

I am back and my answer lies in this post. Bhutan is definitely a lot more than its Mountains and Monasteries. Sharing a list of things to look forward to when you are in Bhutan:

Treks and Trails

From a day to month long, Bhutan has all kinds of treks for adventure lovers.

The most clichéd but certainly not overrated is the Taktsang Monastery Trek. It is popularly known as the Tiger’s Nest. It is literally perched on a cliff and is one of the most important Buddhist sites. It is believed that Yeshe Tsogval who was a follower of Guru Rinpoche, transformed herself into a tigress and carried Guru Rinpoche on her back from Tibet to Taktsang. Here is one of the nine caves where he meditated.

Tiger's Nest
Tiger’s Nest

Another popular trek of Bhutan is the Druk Path trek, which is about 6 days long. This trek not only greets you with beautiful landscapes but also introduces you to some ancient Lhakhangs and Dzongs.

For people who find trekking arduous, you could soak in nature while walking on the breathtaking trails of Bhutan.

At an elevation of 3000 meters, Phobjika Glacial Valley is surrounded by huge mountains on all sides. This is a short (4 kms) but beautiful trail. During winters, black necked cranes migrate to Phobjika from Tibet, and the monastery in Gangtey holds a special festival to celebrate their arrival.

Phobjika Valley
Phobjika Valley

Camping
Bhutan is blessed with natural beauty. Owing to its forest reserves, which are about 70%, it becomes a wonderful place to camp.We camped under the star lit sky, by the river stream, in the forests of Gasa. There was no network connectivity in the forest which was the best thing about the camp. This disconnect from the virtual world helped me establish a wonderful connect with myself.

Gasa
Camping

Tshechu Festival
Tshechu is the biggest festival of Bhutan, which is held on the tenth day of the lunar month in dzongs of each district. Participating in this festival is the best way to experience the culture of Bhutan. The Bhutanese men and women attend this festival dressed in their traditional attire. In this festival, mask dances and other traditional Bhutanese dances are performed. These events have deep religious and mythological significance.

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The Bhutanese believe that everyone must attend a Tshechu and witness the mask dances at least once in order to receive blessings and wash away their sins.

Hot Stone Bath
You will miss out on something really awesome if you go to Bhutan and not try Datsho, the traditional Hot Stone Bath. I rate it as one of the finest experiences of Bhutan.In this therapy, river stones are heated and put in a wooden tub filled with water. Sometimes medicinal herbs are added to the water before it is ready for the soak.

It is believed that the heat of the water, the minerals released from the rock, and the local herbs all combine to produce medicinal benefits for joint pains, hypertension, stomach disorders and arthritis.

Happiness

While all other countries of the world measure their progress by GDP, Bhutan measures its progress by Gross National Happiness.

I had my doubts when I read Bhutan is the happiest country in Asia. But it took me just a 10 days trip to realize that Bhutan is truly a country of happy, shiny people! Their clothes, their houses, their bank accounts don’t define their happiness. They don’t need reasons to be happy. Happiness comes naturally to them. It was on this trip that I truly understood that Happiness is a state of mind.

Gawa rang gi zon go zo; choem rang gi choen go choel 

This popular Bhutanese proverb means, Whatever joy you seek, it can be achieved by yourself; whatever misery you seek, it can be found by yourself. (It is a state of mind)

He is definitely a Happy Old Man

About the Author:

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Neha is a very dear friend and a fabulous company to hangout with. She is an avid traveler and always encourages yatripandit.com.

She describes herself as,”I live to write and I wish I wrote to live! By profession, I am a Software Engineer and currently working in a Multinational IT company. There is a stability in this field, albeit my heart truly wants to get rid of this software job and unleash my creative skills. I share an ardent relationship with writing. My mind is my canvas and I pen hundred’s of thoughts there every single minute. I aspire to devote my entire time to writing and take up writing as my career very soon.”

PS: This story was originally published on http://nehasharmahere.blogspot.in

Click on the link to find out more on Bhutan food, Shopping and architecture http://nehasharmahere.blogspot.in/2016/05/bhutan-beyond-mountains-and-monasteries.html

Disclaimer:  *Contents in this story is Authors personal views and presentation.

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Credits

Story By

Neha Sharma

Edited by 

Abhimanyu

Raiding Mighty Himalayas – Himachal Pradesh

As you might have understood by far that I am a road trip person.

Before getting to the trip, let me introduce to a new member – A white Maruti Suzuki Swift VDi and the owner is none other than, my brother from another mother, Sandy. He has recently shifted to the capital city, New Delhi imparting me a chance to plan and RAID the Mighty Himalayas.The new family member Swift VDi

Coming back to the journey, I booked myself on late night flight to Delhi from Mumbai and landed to be received by Sandy at the Airport. Trust me I was more excited to see the car than seeing him. We reached Sandy’s place around 2am and tried to get some sleep before the Raid, but the butterflies of excitement in our stomach had planned the other way round.

We left early in the morning and our breakfast haul was at Sukhdev Dhaba in Moorthal just outside the national capital. The paranthas are to die for and you cannot afford to miss the white makkhan (butter) even if you are on diet. Filling out tummies and satisfying our souls we are all set to hit the road again.Sukhdev dhaba

We stopped at Ambala to meet an old friend from the university and continued our journey. After crossing Chandigarh bypass, we were welcomed by a board saying, “Welcome to great Himalayan Highways.” There we are, the commencement of uphill journey begins. After, a few KMs we could not control of emotions and urge to have Maggie noodles on one of the Maggie points (Any hill u go in India, Maggie points are omnipresent)

In about 10 hours we reached Kasauli (our would be basecamp) and wasting no time we booked Hotel Pine View located off Chandigarh – Shimla Highway, towards Kasauli. It was a budget hotel, which offered us a Room for two in Rs 1300/- (excluding Meals). Not a bad deal at all, being a long weekend.Hotel pinewood

Kufri:

We decided to rest that night and dozed off after having dinner in the hotel’s restaurant itself.

On the 2nd day, we left after having tea and breakfast to reach Kufri, on the journey we drove through Solan, Shoghi and Shimla (bypass) . The dist. Is about 100 kms but Kandaghat is not easy to drive on, the average speed was about 20 km/h. We obviously stopped at some Monsoon waterfalls and Maggie points to grab a hot tea and Maggie. Reached Kufri in around 6 hours and then our guide (avoid hiring one) told us to take a horse ride to see some sightseeing points (we came back half way disappointed by the ruthless way the horses are treated and made to walk in the mud slurry till knee height) We had to pay the full amt. about Rs. 350/- per horse. Nonetheless, we decided to visit, The Himalayan Nature Park. It is home to about 30 Himalayan wild animals and birds. Witnessing this was a true delight. We started our return journey at 4:30 pm from Kufri ( as we had decided to avoid driving after dusk ) we managed to reach our base camp by 8pm. We had dinner at very famous Giani Dhaba, but it turned out to be even worse than what we could have got at some other not so famous place. AVOID GIANI DHABA.

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Note: The area is a landslide prone, so be cautious while driving and follow sign boards strictly.

Shimla:

Next Morning was the most pleasant one, I have experienced in my lifetime. The sun was playing hide and seek with the clouds and the fog was waiting to embrace us in its arms. Wasting no time we head started our journey to state capital – Shimla. Driving through Kandaghat was not as difficult as the weather was pretty clear.Fresh apple from the orchid

Do not forget to take an apple break at the magnificent apple mandi(market) in Solan.

Reached Shimla in about 5 hours and had to struggle a lot to find a Parking place. We headed straight to Mall Road, which is a must visit when you are in Shimla. Bought some Pashmina shawls and stoles for our loved ones, after a lot of bargaining. We were mesmerized to know about the history and importance of Gaity theater. This theater was constructed by British and is one of the six theater left on the planet to be built on Victorian Gothic Architecture. After wandering around and having luscious Chole bature and Chole Samose, in a local Stall, at Mall road. We decided to explore Shimla a little more and click some pictures.

We were back to Kasauli by 8:30 pm and decided to have dinner at Haveli, trust me the food was delicious and way better than what we had @Giani Dhaba last night.

It was an amazing journey with Sandy who got hitched recently. We enjoyed every bit of the mountains. Pure air, green mountains, warm hospitality, well maintained roads, lip smacking food and the most welcoming Pahadis. That’s Himachal for you.

This trip to Himachal Pradesh – The land of Gods will be relished till we leave the land to meet Gods in heaven.

Signing off with a song playing in my mind in loop,”maye ni meriye” by Mohit Chauhan. Here is the link

Trip Duration – 5 days

Expense – Approx. INR 9000 PP (Excluding Flight tickets)

— Abhimanyu@yatripandit

PS: Please click on the ads which appear on the website and help us earn some money to travel.     This blog is still very young and growing. If you like the story, do not shy away from reciprocating your love in form of likes comments and sharing on social media.