“Road Trips – It leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller”
Four ordinary people from across India – Goa, Mumbai, and, Bangalore chose to live their passion and do the extraordinary when they journeyed on road to Bhutan in May 2017. They share the experience of their 7,000 km long road trip across 10 states all the way from Mumbai to Bhutan in the Audi A3 sedan. Here’s what they had to say about their experience with the Audi A3 on the road trip.
What was your inspiration to go for the Expedition?
We all love going on road trips, be it taking off to the countryside with family over weekend or driving across the state for an event. Our inspiration was our passion to travel to a foreign land by road. We once did an impromptu road trip from Mumbai to Kabini and that’s where we all shared a common goal of going on a mega trip, and came the of this group, Mad Over Driving – A group of travel enthusiasts for whom roads lead to complete happiness.
Which route did you opt for how long did it take to reach Bhutan?
It took us almost three days to reach Bhutan. Since this was our first big adventure, we mixed caution with aggression in terms of the route, taking adequate breaks, driving through the night when it was recommended and avoiding it when necessary. For the onward journey, we started from Mumbai towards Hyderabad-Vijawada-Rajahmundry-Vizag- Bhubaneswar-Asansol-Dumka-Bhagalpur-Silliguri-Jaigaon (which is the Border).
How did you manage to find the time for this?
The excitement was at its peak for the first few weeks and then we got occupied with our daily routine. Being professionals associated with an MNC or managing our own office, making decent time for family/friends and honoring social commitments and still being in touch with the group over con-calls wasn’t easy, but it was impossible neither. We used discuss the possibilities of not being able to make it at all. But despite all the difficulties, we managed to stick together in tough times, overcome all obstacles and embark on this dream road trip.
What was the Pre-planning involved?
The biggest challenge was deciding on a common date. Being working professionals, it was a challenge to first ensure that we get leave for substantial duration. With support from our family especially, our better halves, the road trip was scheduled for the last week of May. We decided the route, the estimated time to travel and factored limited breaks to ensure we reach within the shortest possible time to Bhutan. Besides some feedback from friends, most information came from Google maps. The last bit was trying to keep ourselves fit with exercise and a strict diet.
What were the fun/adventurous parts of the trip?
“Over planned trips, don’t happen.” The most fun part of our trip was the real-time decision making for almost everything including food and stay. When on the road, we did not know about our next stops and it was always decided with a span of not more than 30 minutes. We all were flexible and enthusiastic enough to try all kind of local foods and luckily it worked well for us. To do away with daytime heat & traffic we pre-planned to drive throughout night and that worked well. It was nothing less than endurance trip overall where we witnessed temperature within range of 8 to 44 degree Celsius.
What are the most important aspects to be considered while planning a cross border road trip?
First and foremost is safety. We made sure that we didn’t over speed or stretch ourselves too much. We made sure we carried all the original documents. The necessary documents were filled at Phuntsholing which is the entry point by road from India to Bhutan. Thanks to the 4G networks across India, we were able to book accommodation on the go. However, accommodation in Bhutan was booked in advance through travel sites and help from local Bhutanese travel agents.
What Challenges did you face during the Journey?
Since we were travelling in May, the heat was a major concern and thus we decided to drive through the night, which also helped us beat the traffic. Finding restrooms was an issue too. As much as we were in awe of the excellent highways in India (until Kharagpur only), it is really frustrating to say that we do not have adequate restrooms and restaurant facilities along highways.
Can you tell us the most memorable experience during your trip?
It is hard to single out a single experience but the whole trip was unbelievable to say the least. It’s been a while since we returned and it is hard to believe we actually made it. To be specific, the simplicity of the Bhutanese people floored us. Not to forget the fantastic landscapes too. We were also extremely fortunate and privileged to be blessed by the spiritual leader of Bhutan when we were on our way to Phobjikha. The police told us that very few Bhutanese, leave alone tourists, get such an opportunity.
What was the highlight of the Audi A3 Journey?
How effortlessly it took on the bad roads, the extreme climate and the excess luggage.
Your journey would inspire many to do a similar trip, any message that you would give our readers?
‘Job fills your pockets, but a journey fills your soul.’ I would say, in today’s day and age, one just needs to make time for their selves and do it as if there is no tomorrow. If anyone needs any inputs on the trip, we are more than glad to help.