Ten Minutes In Bhutan

On our North East ride we rode our motorcycles into Bhutan for all of ten minutes. I’m serious. We actually did that. That’s the shortest amount of time I’ve stayed in any country. Even when transiting through countries at airports, I’ve had to spend more time than that.

It all started when I was researching the road to Tawang. People normally go from Guwahati to Tezpur and then proceed to Bomdila, Dirang and then cross the Sela pass to reach Tawang. But Google Maps showed me an internal road that passed through a place called Bhairabkunda and joined the main road at Bomdila. I found that road interesting not just because it seems shorter, but because Bharaibkunda sat on the border of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Bhutan. I know that Indians don’t need a visa to enter Bhutan. So I figured that if we got to Bhairabkunda, maybe we could step into Bhutan for a cup of tea. None of us had been to Bhutan before and it seemed like a fun thing to do.

We reached Bhairabkunda at around 10 am and took the road that led to Bhutan. As expected there was an Indian army check post and were were stopped.

“Where are you going?” asked the soldier.

“We are going to Tawang”, I replied. “But we were wondering if we could step into Bhutan for a cup of tea.”

I was expecting the soldier to drive us away. But instead he said, “Forget tea. Go fill up your tanks. There is a fuel station just inside the border and petrol is much cheaper in Bhutan.”

We were overjoyed. We rode our bikes through a gate to enter Bhutan, fueled up, took a few pictures and rode back into India. This technically made our North East ride an international ride since we rode across an international border. So now I can claim to have ridden Colt to two foreign countries – Nepal and Bhutan. 🙂

Turns out you can’t enter Bhutan from Bhairabkunda quite simply because there is no road ahead of Daifam, the Bhutanese village where we fuelled up. Beyond lies the Jomotsangkha wildlife sanctuary and no roads pass through it.