India – 2005 and 2024

29 March 2024

One does not tour India and leave unaffected. In 2005, I wrote:

I know I will never forget India, nor will I ever be able to adequately describe her. A country where little has changed in 200 years, more people sleep on the pavement and in dirt than sleep in beds, people worship ornate elephant and monkey gods, and where modernity means the women now collect the dung with gloves.


Wangdue, Phodrang Valley, Bhutan

18 March 2024

Altitude 4420

108 Chorten at Dochula Pass

Today is a drive over the 10,200 ft Dochula Pass, and weaving along the narrow two-lane Thimphu-Punakha Highway. Possibly I will suffer fewer than 1001 curves. The mountains and endless pines climb one side and some rather precipitous drops line the other. There is quite a bit of evidence of earlier landslides and wash-outs. There is no evidence of our road being straight for longer than a minute. I am happy for that left-lane driving as my side of the van is against the mountain. 


Exploring Thimphu, Bhutan

17 March 2024

Elevation 7590

Be still my heart! There are pedestrian crossings and Bhutan’s drivers stop for me! I hear no honking. No cows stroll the streets. A dog passes, held firmly on a leash. Not a traffic light is seen. Kids play soccer in the square and apologize when the kicked ball narrowly misses a passerby. The architecture represents traditional Tibetan/Bhutanese building all accented with colorful windows, doors and eaves. Green tin roofs dominate; government buildings designed with red roofs. The King’s picture is everywhere. I’ve entered another world.


Phuntsholing, Bhutan

15 March 2024

We reboard our van for another road trip. Today is a “box lunch” day. It’s also a day for multiple ginger pills to calm my stomach. Highway 12 is two-lane and twisty, twisty, twisty. Reaching Highway 10, we turn southeast.

It will be a long day of driving south along the Teesta River, past countless hazy View Points, between endless forests and mountains. The surroundings are magical. Mists cling to the peaks; countless bridges pass over rivers and flood plains. Signs of October’s flash flood are everywhere.


Kalimpong, West Bengal, India

14 March 2024

Altitude 3970′

North is Mt. Kangchenjunga and Tibet. Northeast is Bhutan. The lofty Himalayas surround us, which have been continuously blotted out by haze. Unable to pass thru the mountains , we drive south and retrace much of our route. Nothing is straight here. Our route represents one hairpin twist after another. Best news is my ginger pills work.


Gangtok, Sikkim, India

12-13 March 2024

Our exit from the hotel is dramatic as our van rips down the already low hanging wires. Electricity has been spotty at the Elgin. I believe we just made matters worse. The huge post lamp can be quickly reattached, not sure about the wires. The few minutes delay put us behind the garbage truck. Not a good place to be in place where trash lies everywhere.

Ginger pill swallowed and I’m prepared for our morning drive 60 miles northeast into the mountains to Sikkim. I feel like a smuggler as I was told not to mention this part of my excursion to the Indian Visa authorities. I am about to find out why.