I woke up at 3 am in the morning at my parents and then by 3.30 I kissed my mother good bye and then I put the key in to hear the roar of my small red car. This was in the onset of this year. I made this journey back to my school after the vacations. I drove and the music blazing was “Amazing” – ‘Aerosmith’. I crossed the check point smiling at the guards of Chukha hydro power plant. Then in instant, I was cruising towards Thimphu with another number by the ‘Beatles’- ‘Hey Jude’. I was not alone; I had hordes of truckers already on the way.
I was almost near the newly built Chukha Dzong and the morning sky was yet to get some light. I stopped, took a couple of pictures of the magnificent Dzong and then headed northwards. As I drove I could see the fuel signal-half. I then took out a thousand note, handed over to the ‘Kancha’ who was almost awake to refuel the car. Cruising again on one of the busiest highway, I lighted a ‘Dhuwa Mithai’-cigarette for company. Listening to a few numbers by Don Williams, the morning dawn appeared as I reached ‘Tanalum’ check point. A man in blue came to me and asked “Where?” to which I greeted “Zhemgang”. He was making this enquiry in half sleep mode and I too thought why come out to register the license and other details in a chilly morning?
After the check point, another piece of my smoky mithai and I no more had to put on the headlights. It was the morning brightness with crystal clear view. I listened to so many songs up the Chapcha ridge and down till Damchu. This is the part of the stretch that I don’t like to drive. I don’t know I simply don’t like the travel between Tanalum and Damchu since I was a child.
As I accelerated, I could feel the thrill of driving on a fast lane listening to ‘Highway Star’-Deep Purple. Stopping a Chuzomsa, I took out my license and other vehicular documents to be registered. After the registration, I saw a middle-aged man with Doma stains all over his teeth giving me a “Can you give me a ride?” look. I enquired, “Gati joem moh?” “Thimphu lobey” and I instantly gave him an ‘ok’ nod.
Now I had company, a living breathing company. Usually it’s my style to chat on whatever topic came to my mind but this time my company was another lively human being. He spoke about his purpose of going to Thimphu, asked my name, job, relationship status, age so on and so forth. In no time we reached the stretches of Barbesa and we were speeding to Thimphu. He asked me to drop him at the hospital as he had his wife up there attending an ill cousin. Oh, I nearly forgot! My company was from Haa. After dropping him I took the road towards the Youth Village to drive to town for some breakfast. I got nothing for breakfast as Thimphu wasn’t up. I imagined my feast at Hontsho.
I drove to Simtokha to resume my journey to Zhemgang. As I reached the flyover, I saw several cars lined up. The reason was-there was heavy snowfall at Dochula the road is temporarily closed. Works are underway to clear the block.
Then I too lined my car and left to the nearest restaurant. I ate some steamy dumplings and soup with some tea. The next moment I saw vehicles moving towards Dochula and I wasn’t in a hurry. I looked for company but to my dismay I found none. I again went to the restaurant and packed six cans of Fosters. Drink driving huh. Well I do, often.
My journey began towards Wangdi. I drove faster as were the others. Lots of traffic and again listening to more songs I reached Dochula. I got out of my car and took some pictures another time. This time it was the Druk Wangyel chortens with a thick mist over the top. I got in, let the other cars and busses pass, took out a can and gulped it down my throat. After a can I drove downwards this time. The thrill of the beer took me all the way to the tiny vegetable settlement of Mesina. There I bought some ‘May-khu’ for my Zhemgang friends.
I took another can and merrily drove towards Wangdi listening to Smokie’s a few dollars more. Another checkpoint and after all the registration hassle, I again scanned for some company. This check point gave no company either. I speeded towards Trongsa because this part of the drive is the longest and nagging. I took another can and this time too, I merrily sang along with songs esp. ‘Lap Matsu” which brought me to the base of Pelela where travelers stop for lunch at a place called ‘Dung Dung Nyesa’. This restaurant is famous for Bathub and Yak meat delicacies. I took both.
I rested there with another smoky sweet until the time the sweet was pulled to its bud. I again reached out to another can and the kick of it took me to Chendebji. I again took some pictures. Then I shut the music off and headed to Trongsa as if in a hurry. I arrived at Trongsa at around 4 pm that day. I got out of the car, stretched my arms and refueled again worth a thousand.
My journey now was all downhill, this stretch of road is familiar with meandering twines and turns. I forgot I had 3 more cans in stock. The dusk fell at Langthel and the thought of crossing Reotala at night sent chill down my spine. I reached out for another can and drove. The drive at night is what I enjoy. This too I don’t know why? I crossed Reotala with all my senses and reached Zhemgang safely. I got home and drank another can and called it the day off.
In my driving experiences so far, the longest journey that I undertook has been between Chukha and Zhemgang via Thimphu-Trongsa highway.