How I met my travel buddy? (Bhutan Travel Diaries)

In case you haven’t read the earlier part, read here

After deciding that Bhutan would be my travel destination, I started to focus on logistics. The intention was to travel solo. I found out that the Bhutan Immigration rules state that the single travelers by road can not get a permit to enter the country. Being an Indian, jugaad is in our blood and veins. I started to search for any loop-hole that would land me in the “Land of Thunder Dragon”!

After a week of filtering the google search results, I found out that there’s only one way. Here’s the cheat code for solo travelers to get permit to enter Bhutan via road:

  1. Travel all the way up to the Indo-Bhutan border
  2. Go to the Immigration office at the border crossing and look out for a group of 2 or more people applying for the permit
  3. Request them that you would like to join them for permit process since solo applications are rejected. Since Indians have this perception that every stranger is a threat, the best thing to do is to approach army families who often travel to Bhutan. Refrain from asking the tour guides as they charge hefty money.
  4. Smile  widely (make sure your white teeth is visible) in front of the Immigration officer and tell him that you are here to travel and get to know his great country.
  5. Stamped!

The catch is that if the immigration officer smells any foul play, he would reject my application and make it extremely difficult to enter via that border crossing again. Well, that was a huge risk given that I will have to pay the bike rental for 10 days and can’t return it earlier than that. The Plan B was to explore Sikkim if denied the permit. But Sikkim is not Bhutan!

So, I asked my roomies if they would be interested to come along but they seemed either lazy or not interested for an adventure. I called my old friend Venki to check if he’s interested. Finally, got a travel mate!

travel buddies

Again, destiny had its own plans! Venki had to attend to some urgent work engagements and they clashed with the tour dates. And I was back to square one! Meanwhile, my roomies were betting on me whether I would travel to Bhutan or not!

As Paul Cohelo elegantly quotes in Alchemist, “when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

The NMIMS canteen back then was in the 7th floor and it was like the baap of Dadar station. But that day, it wasn’t crowded. I was fortunate to find an empty seat and enjoy my lunch. Aditya Chegu was sitting across the table. During the casual chat, I brought up my problem of finding a partner to travel. He wanted to come but he already made plans to travel to Meghalaya with his roomies. But he assured me that he knew someone who was as crazy as I was about travel.

2 burps and 45 minutes later…

My mobile screen blinked!

1 text message received.

I opened the message….“Hey, Pranav here”

P.S. More on Pranav in upcoming posts 😉

Pic Credits: Travel Buddies

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