14/15th charity ride to Central-Eastern Bhutan By Pale Rider
greetings to all fellow dragons, prospects, honorary members, sponsors and friends.....
before I start with an account of the ride, I would like to sincerely thank all the following sponsors without which the ride would not have been as successful as it was:
- cool rider (druk wang alloys ltd.), bhutan & beyond, sato & dr. josef riedmann, rinzin wangda (yu-druk bicycles), bhutan mandala, bhutan kaze, chilip, druk executive travel, steel & wife, aggie, fire, ktm, thunder, gred, bullet, aussie lady, royal enfield -bhutan, gangjung
- special thanks to tharway and his wife for the bundles of clothes from phuntsholing
- special thanks to x rider's mother-in-law for the bundles of clothes too
co-partners for the ride were: dawa and help shoe bhutan - 500 pairs of shoes and socks and condom man who sent along 10,000 condoms!!!
riders on tour on the eastern circuit - swiss drukpa, toxic, gangjung, tshering tobgay, macho don, parop, bap, born, sato, x, cool, pale (12 in all)
support staff - sanu bhai, wangchuk, strongman daw gyeltshen, tashi, chencho, kezang, bbs crew - dorji phuntsho, chencho (sexy) and suk raj - thank you guys...u were great company and greak folks all through................
well then, the much anticipated ride finally came and is sadly over and now etched into the archives of the club for all posterity...........
the dragons made a spirited entry into the interiors of eastern bhutan where an adventure awaited them, an adventure that will always be remembered by them and who would be proud that they were an integral part of it........the dragons laughed, they cried, they cursed, they cheered, gave love, received love, were down and then up....the elements tested their spirits but the dragons came up on top.....their love and passion for riding kept them going...on and on....through endless trials and tribulations.......in the end the dragons won and with it a lot of hearts of the countless folks they helped and met all along the ride.......the dragons loved the ride and rode to deliver love..........
day 01 - gathered at 7 am.... lovely weather to set the right tone for the long and gruelling ride ahead......loaded our truck..checked our gear....raised our club colours...said a silent prayer....had a group snap and away we sped not knowing what lay in store for us............we were happy to see thunder who came to ride with us till dochula pass......well to put a long story short..we had a lovely lunch, couple of nice pit stops, 3 falls, 2 flats, bad road conditions, 2 cable snaps and then rain, rain, rain from trongsa to bumthang!!!!!!!!!!!!
reached bumthang all drenched, half-battered and half frozen....the rains stopped as we reached our guesthouse and the sight of the bonfire and the guesthouse was a delight and rejuvenated our tired and depleted selves..........how can we ever thank yeshey for all the courtesy and hospitality extended to us....time and time again............had dinner at past midnight...dried our clothes and slept like logs......
day 02 - owing to the late arrival the night before, we decided to ride to mongar instead of trashigang.......started around 10 and we were glad that the rains held up.....beautiful scenery all through the ride although i can't say much about the roads......crossed over thrumshingla pass and we were surprised at a reception at the bird-watching camp by chorten who is a friend of the dragons....tea and snacks......hotel pema was our host at mongar....nice little hotel with good service............got delayed due to swiss rider's bike....again!! we were all feeling sorry for him by now!!
day 03 - did some sightseeing around mongar town that has grown in size and stature........... got stuck in a landslide and that further delayed us by around 2 hours just before trashigang......had a lovely lunch at a roadside eatery...warm beer and stale meat:) i don't think anyone complained though....except cool rider who was left behind rather suddenly to clear the bill!! couple of flats and falls again:)) lit butter lamps at koirala pass for one and all......finally arrived at sherubtse college at around 4pm.....has it changed since we were students last there!!..nice reception by the director himself, some members of the faculty and the ssu (social service unit) club members..........distributed shoes, books, condoms and clothes along with a contribution of 5,000 to the club...............camped above the college temple...were treated to dinner at the college canteen...helmets off to their hospitality.....sang and joked around the bonfire till late....
day 04 - got woken-up by the chatter of laughter and the sound of heels and shoes....yes students off to classes!! rode off to trashiyangtse after bidding adieu to cool rider who flew to paro from yongphula airport due to pressing work..first dragon to fly from there!!!....beautiful day and scenery enroute....gom kora temple was lovely....the head lama offered us lunch which we heartily enjoyed.....said prayers and lit butter lamps for our dearly departed friend robin joshi (heard the news in the morning).....the ride to trashigang for some of us was a disturbing one....was in the prime of his life and loved by all.....may his soul rest in peace and yet he will always be remembered by the dragons.........
reached yangtse and did our charity for the student on the bequest of ghost rider......ganjung rider promptly agreed to sponsor her education apart from other stuff....cheers to gr!! then rode to toetsho village...and was greeted by the folks of 3 small villages in close proximity of each other...one such village was called 'bagba' - bhutanese for motorcycle! camped near a school in their small football ground.....campfire was great as was the special treats bought by the village folks....danced n sang with them till the dragons retired for the night not realising what was in store for them the next day....n yes, there were the usual falls and flats once again:))
day 05 - woke up early as it was the start of the actual charity and we all wanted to be fresh n sober for it........n yes the school children woke us up and greeted us as eagerly and warmly as always....distributed all our goodies (rice,oil,blankets,mattresses,shoes,clothes,condoms) after breakfast to the village folks.....such was their excitement...such was their happiness and such was their thankfulness.....warmth all around....difficult to describe the feelings us dragons went through.....left after the charity with a heavy heart..............reached tamachu after a few hours late in the evening due to bike breakdowns and then the heavens opened up once again.....wet wet wet......heard news from our camp at khoma that the feeder road was really bad and that we shouldn't risk coming there in the dark...........macho don called up a hotel - shangrila by name and on confirmation of 5 rooms there was a rapturous cheer:) ....rode like the wind to the much anticipated shangrila abode that was to be our saviour from the elements....on reaching the hotel nobody spoke for a while because it was not the shangrila we had expected.......then the dragons just burst out laughing...am still laughing at the thought.......let's just leave it at that!!!!!!!!!!
had dinner:)) n then off to bed...or what was one!
day 06 - woke up to find the sun greeting us.....dried our clothes...had breakfast and rode off towards dunkhar.......40km of roughing it out on a dirt road that never seemed to end......however, the scenery of the place was amazing.....passed through the small hamlet of zhamling which was beautiful...(bap rider decided to help a small girl with heart problems at zhamling - cheers bap-the gods will surely smile down on you)....and then arrived at dunkhar.....it was the highlight so far of the tour......simply breathtaking....had a wonderful lunch at a famous heritage house....did our charity for more village folks and then visited the ancestral temple of the kings..........we were honoured to be shown the sacred relics of the great treasure discoverer pema lingpa from whom the kings of bhutan descended!!!!....felt sad to leave the village but we had to go and so we did!
the rains played hide and seek with us once again but we finally arrived at the picturesque and quaint little village of khoma.... dark once again.........but only after we went back to tamachu to deliver our charity goods to more villagers who had come there after walking for a day!!!!!!
the rnr hall was a blessing and we were glad to get out off our wet clothes and into our dry stuff....sang and danced in the hall till we conked out!!
day 07 - pale was on one of his melancholy and soul-searching moods so he decided to ride solo from khoma till bumthang:)) 2 pit-stops was all it took and he reached bumthang in high spirits and made all arrangements for his dragon bretherns....who arrived late with stories that went late into the night...of rain (pale was spared that)...falls, breakdowns and the morning's charity at khoma which was once again received with warmth and love......x rider made his entry to bumthang from thimphu...he had to come didn't he?...wanted to keep his record straight well barely:))......toxic can fill in the details on the morning's charity.....the guest house and the food was once again welcome and a million thanks goes out to yeshey and his staff once again................
day 08 - rode off to punakha after a rather delayed start...couple of long pit-stops and we arrived in trongsa for lunch.....the ride to punakha took forever due to delays (anybody's guess now)......and yes..the highlight of the tour was in the dragons meeting their Dragon King enroute!!!!!!!!!!!! the dragons were taking a break at tikizampa just before wangdiphodrang when His Majesty (was on his mountain bike and riding/cycling from bumthang to punakha!!!!!!!!) alighted from his bike and spoke to us for a couple of minutes......nothing can express what we all felt and went through....all i can say is that we celebrated and still are:)) was emotionally tough after that but made it to our lovely camp by the river without any mishaps!! we thank His Majesty also for the best weather on the ride by far...it did not rain!!!!!!!!!!
day 09 - woke up late and lazed the sunny day by the river.............packed.....had lunch at khuruthang and took off for thimphu..........and yesssssssssss we reached our clubhouse at dusk again!!! it has now become something of a tradition:))
day 10 - had our new members initiation at our clubhouse in the evening.....ugyen tenzing (gangjung rider) and tshering tobgay (ttr rider)..........welcome to the club!!!!!!!!!!!!!
some special moments:
- bap's numerous falls (or like he says - combo falls and not his fault)....swiss and his 7 flats and baywatch moments.......macho and sato's bar antics and bonfire dances.........toxic's flower & shoe banner and dislocated finger-didn't lose anything this time - well almost a finger:)).....gangjung's racing moments once again and appetite.......ttr's i-phone and dance with the culvert.....born's road captain skills:))....cool's..well..cool ways:)...x's plastic bike.....parop's disappearing acts once again....aggie's confrontation with a leopard and appetite for food and mud....and yes.....bbs dorji's love for ara and bullets:))....as for pale - will have to wait till the next bonfire:)))
the 14/15th was an overwhelming success in so many ways....too many special moments to recall...was one of the best by far!!
many thanks once again to one and all that were a part of this charity both on and off and a very special thanks once again to our Deities who looked after us all through the ride!!!!!!!!!!
we shall be back!!!!!!!
"ride to love - love to ride"
ps: the dragons thank macho don rider for the excellent co-ordination of the tour with special emphasis on the charity aspect....and not hotel shangrila!!