Around the World... One Journey at a Time. Around the World... One Journey at a Time.

Bhutan: Days 1 and 2

by Kathy 21. May 2009 17:17

<< 2008 Journeys: Bhutan | Day 3: Traveling to the India-Bhutan Border >>


Traveling to Delhi, India


We started our journey by flying to Delhi, India from San Francisco. The trip involved 19 ½ hours of actual flying, with an additional six hours of driving to, and waiting in, airports. We eagerly peered out the window as our plane descended into Delhi. We could clearly see a division between the blackness of the clear night sky above and the murky brown/gray air into which we were sinking below. We had read about the severe air pollution that envelops India’s capital, but we were still a bit surprised that we were able to see the smog at night.

We would be staying overnight in Delhi and then taking a morning flight to the northeastern part of India. We knew that we would be tired after traveling for over 25 hours, and we had read warnings about airport taxi scams, so we had made prior arrangements with our hotel to pick us up at the airport. After clearing customs, we made our way past a long line of men holding placards with names on them; the very last sign (and I was getting a bit worried) had our name on it. It was being held by a small man who immediately grabbed both of our rolling bags and indicated that we should follow him through the crowds ahead.

As we moved forward, the small man gave a nod of his head to two other men, who quickly stepped in pace with us. One spoke very good English, “How are you doing, Ma’am? Did you have a good flight? Welcome to India!” I was a bit confused regarding why there were three men walking with us, and why the smallest man was pulling our two large bags (we had all of our motorcycle gear in them).

When we reached a tiny van that was parked 100 feet from the airport entrance, the man who had been talking to me said, “You need to give that man a tip for carrying your bags.” I had thought the small man was our hotel driver, but perhaps he was just the bag carrier. I was still trying to work out roles, and my brain was a bit fuzzy from lack of sleep. I was wondering how much of a tip to give for rolling our bags such a short distance, so I asked, “How much would you recommend?” Everything became very clear when the man answered, “Oh, ten dollars should be fine.” Ten dollars!  Something fishy was happening here. We still weren’t sure what. We gave the small man a couple of dollars. He then turned to the two other men, gave them the money, and hopped into the driver’s seat—he was our driver after all! And we had paid money for the experience of exchanging a few sentences with his friends. Ahhh, the creativity of swindlers . . . live and learn.

Our van maneuvered its way into the Delhi traffic. Ben and I were in awe. First, we had to get used to the vehicles being on opposite lanes than in the United States. (Forward traffic is on the left, not the right.) Then the weave and flow was simply amazing—all kinds of cars, trucks, vans, motorcycles, and scooters in a fluid stream without too much regard for lane markings or traffic signals. A small horn toot every few seconds was part of the experience, necessary for letting the other drivers around you know where you were. We learned over time that this seemingly chaotic system actually has very clear rules and is quite organized. We loved it!

I had tremendous admiration for this woman, perched side-saddle on the back of a scooter, and holding a baby in one arm. One big pot-hole, and . . . yikes!

We arrived at our hotel after a very entertaining 40 minutes of driving. We chose to stay at The Amber Hotel due to some good reviews in (the site offers reviews by actual customers, and we always check it before making any hotel reservations). The hotel was a bit far from the airport, but it was very clean and had a comfortable bed. Here is a photo of the exterior from the hotel’s website:

We checked in after 11 p.m., and the desk clerk was very friendly and deferential to Ben (“Welcome, sir! How are you doing, sir? Have a good evening, sir!”).  It took a bit of adjustment for me to get used to being completely ignored by most hotel and restaurant staff in India—the “ladies first” custom appears to be flipped there, so I tried to be culturally sensitive and respectful, going with the flow and smiling in the background.

Three hotel porters insisted on helping us by carrying our two bags to our room, all waiting for a tip after the process. Then, despite that it was midnight, that we were exhausted, and that we had absolutely no interest in watching TV (all of which we clearly communicated), one of the porters insisted on showing us how the TV remote worked and describing the various channels offered. Then the man asked if he could bring us something to eat. When we said we weren’t hungry, he asked if he could bring us something to drink. Ben said, “Okay, a beer would be nice.” Then the man said that he couldn’t just bring us one beer—we would have to order something else. With tired sighs and a firm “no thank you”, we finally closed the door. We were asleep within 15 minutes.

On a humorous note, after we closed the door, I started smelling something burning. I went around the room sniffing, trying to discern what it could be. I was getting quite concerned, as the smell was very strong. We looked out of the window to see if there was a visible fire. Then we realized that the smell was simply the “normal,” but thick, smog that was all around us. What a relief!


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Places We’ve Been, w/Quick Links

   Bumthang Valley
   Gom Kora
   Paro Valley
   Punakha Dzong
   Sangdrup Jongkhar
   Wangdi Phrodrang

   Janko Marca
   La Paz
   Laguna Colorada
   Laguna Verde
   Salar de Coipasa
   Salar de Uyuni
   San Pablo
   Santa Rosa
   Sud Lipez
   World’s Most Dangerous Road

   Banff National Park
   Battle Hill Nat'l Hist. Site
   Boya Lake Prov. Park, BC
   Burns Lake Bike Park
   Canyon Sainte-Anne
   Dawson Creek
   Eastern Townships
   Fort Nelson
   Jasper National Park
   Kluane Lake, YK
   'Ksan Historical Village
   Lake Louise
   Liard Hot Springs
   Niagara Falls
   Quebec City
   Thousand Islands
   Vancouver Island
   Watson Lake

   Forbidden City
   Great Wall at Mutianyu
   Hong Kong
   Summer Palace
   Terracotta Warriors
   Tiananmen Square
   Yungang Caves

Costa Rica
   Arenal Volcano
   Finca Corsicana
   Hanging Bridges
   Manuel Antonio
   Poas Volcano
   Proyecto Asis
   Sky Trek Zip Lining
   Venado Caves


   Amazon Rainforest
   Chaquiñan Bicycle Trail
   La Mitad del Mundo
   Napo Wildlife Center
   Papallacta Hot Springs
   Proyecto DCR
   Yasuní National Park


   Baja California
   Frida Kahlo Museum
   Hierve el Agua
   Marietas Islands
   Mexico City
   Monte Alban
   Oaxaca City
   Puerto Angel
   Puerto Escondido
   Puerto Vallarta
   San Agustin
   San Martin Tilcajete
   Santa Fe de la Laguna
   Santa María el Tule
   Studio of Jacobo Angeles
   Teotitlán del Valle

   Dead Vlei
   Elondo Village
   Etosha Nat'l Park
   Hippo Pools Camp
   Hoba Meteorite
   Khowarib Camp
   Moose McGregor's Bakery
   Mowani Camp
   Ngepi Camp
   Nkasa Lupala
   n'Kwzi Camp
   River Dance Lodge
   Seisriem Camp
   Treesleeper Camp

   Cañón del Pato
   Cerro de Pasco
   La Oroya
   Machu Picchu
   Nuevo Jaén
   Tingo Maria
   Yungay Memorial


South Africa

   Rock of Gibraltar
   Santillana del Mar

United States National Parks
   Arches National Park, UT
   Badlands National Park, SD
   Bandelier National Monument, NM
   Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
   Cahokia Mounds (UNESCO site), IL
   Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM
   Canyon de Chelly Nat'l Monument, AZ
   Cape Hatteras National Shoreline, NC
   Capitol Reef National Park, UT
   Civil Rights Memorial, AL
   Death Valley National Park, CA
   Denali National Park, AK
   Devil’s Tower National Monument, WY
   El Morro National Monument, NM
   Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C.
   Glacier National Park, MT
   Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
   Grand Tetons National Park, WY
   Great Basin National Park, NV
   Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, HI
   Joshua Tree National Park, CA
   Kaloko-Honokohau Nat'l Hist. Park, HI
   Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks, NM
   King's Canyon National Park, CA
   Martin Luther King Jr. Nat'l Hist. Site, GA
   Mesa Verde National Park, CO
   Montezuma's Castle Nat'l Monument, AZ
   Monticello, VA
   Mount Rushmore National Memorial, SD
   Mt. Rainier National Park, WA
   Olympic National Park, WA
   Petrified Wood National Park, AZ
   Pinnacles National Monument, CA
   Pu'uhonua o Honaunau Nat'l Hist Pk, HI
   Pu'ukohola Heiau Nat'l Historic Site, HI
   San Antonio Missions Nat'l Hist. Park, TX
   Tuzigoot National Monument, AZ
   Walnut Canyon National Monument, AZ
   Washington Monument
   White Sands National Monument, NM
   Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, AK
   Wright Brothers National Memorial in NC
   Yellowstone National Park, WY
   Yosemite National Park, CA

United States, Cities and Places
   The Alamo, TX
   Alaska Wildlife Conservation Cntr.
   Alpine Loop in CO
   Anchorage, AK
   Antares Junction, AZ
   Arctic Circle, AK
   Barrel Oak Winery in VA
   Biloxi, MS
   Bottle Tree Farm in CA
   Calico Ghost Town, CA
   Canfield Mountain Trail System, ID
   Cape St. Vincent, NY
   Carson City, NV
   Carter Caves State Park in KY
   Chappie-Shasta OHV Area, CA
   Child's Glacier, AK
   Circle B Chuckwagon Show in SD
   City Museum in MO
   Cody, WY
   Corn Palace in SD
   Crazy Horse Memorial in SD
   Custer State Park, SD
   Dalton Highway, AK
   Dinosaur Tracks in AZ
   Discovery Place in Charlotte, NC
   Dry Falls (Sun Lakes-Dry Falls), WA
   Fairbanks, AK
   Front Royal, VA
   Gallup, NM
   Goffs, CA
   Grand Canyon Caves, AZ
   Grand Canyon Skywalk, AZ
   Grave Digger Monster Truck in NC
   Great Salt Lake, UT
   Hackberry General Store in AZ
   Hannibal, MO
   Hatteras Island, NC
   Hawaii (Big Island)
   Hickison Petroglyphs, NV
   Holbrook, AZ
   Hole in the Rock, UT
   Homer, AK
   Honey Island Swamp Tour in LA
   Hoover Dam, NV
   Hyder, AK
   Jim Gray’s Petrified Wood Co. in AZ
   John’s Peak OHV Area, OR
   Kailua-Kona, HI
   Keepers of the Wild Nature Park in AZ
   Kennecott, AK
   Kennecott Copper Mine in UT
   Kingman, AZ
   Lake Havasu, AZ
   Lake Tahoe, NV
   Las Vegas, NV (winter 2010)
   Little Brown Church in IA
   London Bridge in AZ
   Loneliest Road in America, Hwy. 50, NV
   Los Angeles, CA
   Lost Colony Show on Roanoke Isl., NC
   Lowe’s Speedway in NC
   Mardi Gras World in LA
   Mark Twain Museum in MO
   Meteor Crater, AZ
   Million Dollar Highway, CO
   Minnesota Zoo
   Mitchell, SD
   Moab, UT
   Moab, UT (dirt biking)
   Montgomery, AL
   Montpelier, ID
   Navajo Nation, AZ
   Needles, CA
   Nevada Beach, NV
   Newberry Springs, CA
   New River Gorge, WV
   New Orleans, LA
   Niagara Falls 
   North Pole, AK
   Oatman, AZ
   Old Faithful Geyser in WY
   Omak Stampede, WA
   Painted Desert, AZ
   Park City, UT (summer)
   Plymouth, NC
   Portage Valley, AK
   Portland, OR
   Prospect OHV Trail System, OR
   Resaca, GA
   Riverside State Park, WA
   Rock City in TN
   Rosa Parks Library and Museum in AL
   Roswell, NM
   Russian River, AK
   Salt Lake City, UT
   San Antonio, TX
   San Diego, CA
   San Juan Islands, WA
   San Francisco, CA
   Santa Catalina Island, CA
   Seattle, WA
   Sedona, AZ
   Shoe Tree in CA
   Shoe Tree in NV
   Silverton, CO
   Sonora, TX
   St. Louis, MO
   St. Paul, MN
   Talkeetna, AK
   Telluride, CO
   Route 66
   Twin Knobs Recreation Area in KY
   Virginia Beach, VA
   Washington D.C.
   Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park in IL
   Williamsburg, VA
   Winom Frazier OHV Area, OR
   Winslow, AZ
   Zion National Park, UT

Planning Our Adventures

For us, each journey begins with the initial heart pangs to venture to a certain part of the world. Then the ideas start coming together . . . ahh, the possibilities . . . and the dream evolves gradually into an actual plan. But, oh, the joy of the dream!  Click here to learn more about how we plan and prepare for our journeys.

Where Are We Now?

Click here to discover where we are now, as well as our uncoming travel plans.

Words for the Heart

“. . . and then the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

Anais Nin