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The roads look horrible in the pictures itself and I can imagine the kind of pain you guys must have undergone during your drive on this day .. How many Kilometers have you guys fared on this day ?

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3 hours ago, sagar said:

How many Kilometers have you guys fared on this day ?

 

Less than 400 kilometers.

 

I pity the truck drivers lineup at Farakka Bridge. Some drivers are even playing cards. :)

It is a chaos and the work is going on from the past four months,

Rains made the situation even bad.

 

2 hours ago, Sridhar Tandra said:

Hotel guys arranged it?

 

Yeah,
There is so much dust inside out,

It took one complete hour to clean it. 

 

Finding a proper tea point on this section is a herculean task.

 

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Day 5: Malda to Mirik

Today it was event full.

Instead of going to Siliguri we drove towards Mirik(less commercial).

 

Roads are good through out the drive,
Some sections are very narrow (village roads)
We came across many tea estates enroute.

We started gaining the altitude around 2PM.

 

We reached Mirik by 4:30PM,

Our stay is located 5 kilometers away from Mirik and it is very isolated.

 

Roads are very narrow and dangerous,
Hair pin curves are too narrow for Duster.

Not a sedan/hatch back territory.
Duster All terrain tyres came very handy.

Slipping and sliding,(due to rain from past 4 days)
We reached the mid way(2 kilometers)

 

Many locals started discouraging us not take that route.

In the mid away, it got difficult,
With some patience and navigation, we finally reached the destination.

Our expectations about the stay went down drastically looking at the road condition.

Once reached the stay,
We are blow away by the facilities and property view.

Start time: 8 AM
Reached: 6 PM

 

Hotel : Royal Suite
Rating: 5/5
Cost: 2500/- (Got an upgrade to 6k suite)

Breakfast : Malda(3/5)
Lunch : we skipped it
Dinner : Royal Suite(5/5)

 

Today it was eventful,

We started to gain some altitude 

IMG_20181219_151659-01.jpeg

Beautiful tea estates enroute

IMG_20181219_150710-01.jpeg

Inner roads through tea estates 

IMG_20181219_150514-01.jpeg

Our first road block due to slide.

Now it is officially that we arrived :)

Tucked-IN

IMG_20181219_162433-01.jpeg

One of the best sunset ever

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Duster enjoying the view,

IMG_20181219_172423-01.jpeg

All the struggle from the past four days is worth it?
Thirty minutes that we spent at this sunset point, Will be remembered forever. 
IMG_20181219_172516-01.jpeg

Our accommodation is located  5 kilometers away from Mirik.
Our host asked us, If we are driving a  SUV?
We said YES!, biggest mistake. 

And the next one hour drive is like switching between hell/heaven/earth

Hair pin curves that can make your car tilt side ways,

Slush,

Some sections has zero traction,

If we brake we will loose the traction.

 

At one point we decided to turn back, We felt it is not worth the risk.

Guess what? We couldn't find a place to take a U-turn.

 

After one hour of constant spotting and corrections we made it to the destination.

 

Looking at those roads,

My expectation for the stay went from 100->0.

Worst case scenario, we decided to sleep over in the car.

 

Once we got down at the property.
We were blown away by the facilities and the view.

 

We stayed awake till 4AM in the morning with monk. :)

Definitely best accommodation of the trip. 

 

Bedroom View

IMG_20181219_185017-01.jpeg

Balcony 

IMG_20181220_092800-01.jpeg

Second room

IMG_20181220_092414-01.jpeg

View from the hall 

IMG_20181220_105059-01.jpeg

Early morning rituals 

IMG_20181220_090412-01.jpeg

Kitchen

IMG_20181220_092407-01.jpeg

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Day 6: Mirik to Nepal, Darjeeling and Gangtok.

Mirik is very close to Nepal.
We decided to drive down to Nepal.

It is a 2 hour drive from Mirik.

 

To enter Nepal,
- Own vehicle
- Owner of the car should be present
- Original documents
- Customs entry
- Vehicle details entry
- Identify card

Cost 20/- per car.

 

Process is pretty straight forward,
It took us 10 minutes to finish the formalities.

 

We went to Pashupathi market,
It is famous for clothing.(Cheap)

 

We had lunch in Nepal,
Decided to drive back to Darjeeling.
Since we don't want to miss view of kanchenjunga (world's third highest mountain)

 

Roads are excellent through out drive (considering hills)

View of Kanchenjunga is excellent from Darjeeling.
Apart from the view,
There is nothing much exciting in Darjeeling.

 

We decided to drive down to Gangtok.

On the next day, we have to try our luck with permits.(zero point)

Start time: 11 AM
Reached: 7 PM

 

Hotel

Hotel : Royal Orchid
Rating: 5/5
Cost: 2300/- (value for money and very neat property)

 

Food

Breakfast :Royal Suite Mirik(4/5)
Lunch : Nepal (4/5)(you can find plenty of bars, hookahs, Momo shops..in Pashupathi market)
Dinner : Royal Orchid(4/5)

 

Beautiful roads en-route to Nepal

IMG_20181220_132319-01.jpeg

Best view of tea estates 

IMG_20181220_130137-01.jpeg

Image quality from pixel is quite impressive, I did not  use DSRL for the entire trip. 

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Selfie time

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Nepal entrance 

IMG_20181220_133540-01.jpeg

 

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Enroute to Darjeling 

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First view of might Kanchenjunga

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This is first time, I missed the DSLR

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IMG_20181220_164128-01.jpeg

 

IMG_20181220_164342-01.jpeg

light started to fade away, this is at 4PM

IMG_20181220_171236-01.jpeg

 

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Wow, your stay at mirik looks fabulous and the price is so unbelievable. I wouldn't mind staying there for a month. Is it like an airbnb stay? Do they have a kitchen to serve the guests or do we have to prepare our own food?

Edited by mayank
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You log from now gets more and more interesting. Great going and waiting for more :)  Btw, The place looks like a never to miss out on. Has always been in my to do list and failed to make it last year. My desire to do this now goes on a heavier side :D 

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4 hours ago, mayank said:

I wouldn't mind staying there for a month.

 

We had similar thoughts. 
Ideal place to getaway for a month. 

 

4 hours ago, mayank said:

Is it like an airbnb stay? Do they have a kitchen to serve the guests or do we have to prepare our own food?


It is AirBnB.

They have fantastic restaurant. 

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Day 7: Gangtok, Zero kilometers.

 

Our aim is to get permits for North Sikkim.
North Sikkim permits are available at Mangan.

 

Documents required for permits:
- Original RC
- Original License
- Identity card (Aadhar)
- Insurance
- PUC
- Passport size photos

 

Permits:
- Lachen
- Lachung
- Zero point
- Gurudongmarg lake
- Yumthang valley

 

Entire process took half day.
Finally we managed to get permits.


Every one is curious about TS registration vehicle.
We had to explain them about newly formed state :)

Once you get the permits in hand,
You need to take photo copies of the permit (6 photo copies)

'

At each check post,
We need to show the original permit and get it stamped.
Also, We should provide the photo copy of original permit.

 

We did some shopping around Gangtok,
We visited few places in MG Marg.

 

Hotel : Royal Orchid
Rating: 5/5
Cost: 2300/- (value for money and very neat property)

 

Breakfast : MG marg
Lunch : MG Marg (5/5) Many street food options are available.
Dinner : Royal Orchid(4/5)

 

Agents for permits:

Pulazor 77970 01118 for North Sikkim permits at mangan.

 

Morning view from the hotel

IMG_20181221_081137-02.jpeg

 

IMG_20181221_112123-02.jpeg

MG Marg, We spent half a day, hopping different bars/food joints,

Ideal places for couples

IMG_20181221_123033-01.jpeg

 

IMG_20181221_125258-02.jpeg

Sunset view from the accommodation 

IMG_20181221_171230-02.jpeg

 

IMG_20181221_125258-02.jpeg

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@Ranger

That is intensely visual and profound travelogue. Your write-up is like going through poems. Details provided are very helpful. Waiting for the complete report.

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17 hours ago, KSK said:

Your write-up is like going through poems.

 

Thank you. But nowhere closing to you writing skill man. 

 

Day 8: Gangtok to Lachung, Yumthang, Zero point and Lachen

Early morning start is a must.

According to local people, Winds will pickup from the afternoon.

 

Plastic water bottles are not allowed after crossing checkpoints.(Gangtok )
Only option is hot water.

 

If you carry plastic water bottle, you will be fined around 1k.

Roads are very bad,
Good ground clearance is a must on these sections.

 

These sections are dominated by cabs.
Our Duster is the only car with white plate.

 

Crowd is very less and we loved it.( due to snow )

We spent around 1 hour in some locations without any disturbance.

Roads are slippery due to snow,

 

Few sections has black ice.

Snow chains are must in winter.
In our case AT tyres helped a lot.

 

We went further, where local cabs did not dare to venture.

Start time: 5 AM
Reached: 9 PM

Hotel : Will update
Rating: 2.5/5
Cost: 3400/-

 

Only food options are Maggi and Momo

Breakfast : Road side food joints(3/5)
Lunch : Maggi
Dinner : we skipped

 

All the pictures are taken from Pixel,

Built into the nature, dream home?

IMG_20181222_071315-01.jpeg

Unnamed roads begin and we love it

IMG_20181222_075052-01.jpeg

We crossed numerous bridges and landslides 

IMG_20181222_095158-01.jpeg

Only section of good road deserve a picture

IMG_20181222_100903-01.jpeg

Duster basking in the Sun

IMG_20181222_114620-01.jpeg

Lachen : The big pass

IMG_20181222_121045-01.jpeg

 

IMG_20181222_124109-01.jpeg

 

IMG_20181222_124400-01.jpeg

After gaining some altitude, we started seeing snow patches

IMG_20181222_132308-01.jpeg

 

IMG_20181222_130857-01.jpeg

 

IMG_20181222_130217-01.jpeg

Of all the wonders in the world, In my view Himalayas is the greatest 

IMG_20181222_133700-01.jpeg

 

IMG_20181222_145125-01.jpeg

 

IMG_20181222_134615-01.jpeg

 

IMG_20181222_125805-01.jpeg

Slush

IMG_20181222_143553-01.jpeg

There is not even a single sole from this point,

All the struggle from the past 10 days is worth it, best/memorable day of the trip. 

IMG_20181222_132248-03.jpeg

Dreamy, My favourite picture of the trip

IMG_20181222_134420-01.jpeg

Sound of silence

IMG_20181222_133934-01.jpeg

Slip and slide

IMG_20181222_131615-01.jpeg

It is completely snow from this point,
We pushed little ahead and decided to stop for the day.

We spent around an hour at this places and decided to drive back. (badly missed snow chains/4x4)

IMG_20181222_135348-01.jpeg

Selfie of the day

00000PORTRAIT_00000_BURST20181222132946719-01.jpeg

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Did Duster slip / struggle at any point on this entire stretch @Ranger in spite of the AT's that you have had? I am sure it must have at one point or the other looking at the intensity of snow / Ice on the roads! How did you manage at those stretches in case if you have come across one?

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Not on the entire stretch.

Some patches only, we used to come across them every one/two kilometers at the peak.

 

AT tyres are of no use in thick snow.

Only advantage is we were able to push ourselves little ahead of others.

 

Maintain momentum,

Very less steering/brake inputs.

Don't panic and pray.

 

We had few scary moments where the car used to fishtail on curves.

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On 1/11/2019 at 2:59 PM, Ranger said:

Started exploring Vizag beaches.

It is definitely one of the cleanest City in the country.

Roads are clean, dust and pothole free.

 

Roads are beautiful in Vizag. Even the internal roads. visited Vizag in the month of Dec 2017, such a bliss driving on those roads. Very little traffic even during the peak hours compared to Hyderabad. 

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36 minutes ago, Ranger said:

We had few scary moments where the car used to fishtail on curves

 

Interesting! Was it similar to the incident which we have experienced earlier at the Prashar lake ? :D 

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4 hours ago, Ranger said:

 

IMG_20181222_143553-01.jpegThere is not even a single sole from this point,

All the struggle from the past 10 days is worth it, best/memorable day of the trip. 

IMG_20181222_132248-03.jpeg

00000PORTRAIT_00000_BURST20181222132946719-01.jpeg

 

A chance to rejoice in our solitude to its purity is rare these days. Superb!

 

4 hours ago, Ranger said:

 

IMG_20181222_132248-03.jpeg

Dreamy, My favourite picture of the trip

IMG_20181222_134420-01.jpeg

00000PORTRAIT_00000_BURST20181222132946719-01.jpeg

 

Indeed. It is breathtaking!

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2 hours ago, Krish said:

Roads are beautiful in Vizag. Even the internal roads. visited Vizag in the month of Dec 2017, such a bliss driving on those roads. Very little traffic even during the peak hours compared to Hyderabad. 

 

Agree on it. I was surprised looking at the cleanliness of Vizag. 

I am not sure about internal roads, but the road along the beach is fantastic.

 

2 hours ago, sagar said:

we have experienced earlier at the Prashar lake ?

 

Haha, it is the most scariest one.(first time experience)

This time we got used to it.  :)

 

1 hour ago, mit1682 said:

very nice, clean and crisp photos.

 

4 minutes ago, KSK said:

Indeed.

 

Thank you

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@Ranger I have also noticed some interesting food pictures that you have shared. Can you share the names of the local delicacies in the places you've toured.

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On 2/13/2019 at 1:14 PM, Ranger said:

Not on the entire stretch.

 

Tips on driving that you give out if your experience during these kind of situations? 

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      It was fun driving this car in those ghats. Steering feel and feedback was really good and was spot on. This trip will be forever remembered. The engine sound coupled with cool breeze and nature sounds made this a really wonderful and memorable trip with my Ford Freestyle.

       
      Hyderabad to Yanam via Ramachandrapuram 
       
      This place is really beautiful. I’ve been to Yanam in 2012 in our Swift Dzire. I was siting beside my father and was observing him cruising in that beautiful cool, rainy weather. I was 16 back then. Learning driving from my father in our colony roads. I was amazed by the way it cruised, clicked many pictures  in my father’s Galaxy S3. I couldn’t know more about the place. All I knew was the beach and the beautiful Jesus statue. Nothing beyond that.
       
      This is 2019 and I was on the wheel with my father sitting beside me and my Sony A6000 DSLR in the rear seat to click the beautiful places. It was 4:30 in the morning, I fired the loud TDCi engine waking up others in my house at Ramachandrapuram. We hit the roads and it was all nostalgic.
       
       
      The roads were bad, full of potholes and very bad curves. This gave me a new experience to drive on those village roads full of potholes and truck traffic from the opposite direction with high beam. Made me explore Yanam and the nearby mangroves and getting to know the place beyond beach and of course the beautiful Jesus statue, reminded my father of his childhood and the hotel where he used to sometimes eat and now we having  our breakfast which is still running with the same quality at Drakshramam. This also proved how beautiful my car is gliding  over those big potholes with very loud and uncomfortable sounds in the cabin and  zero underbody hits. making this another memorable road trip. 
       
      Vijayawada to Hyderabad
       

      I’ve done multiple trips between Hyderabad-Vijayawada on our Honda City as well as Ford Freestyle as my father is posted there. But this will be remembered.
       
      This unexpected drive for few minutes under the railway bridge tested my knowledge on flood water driving, knowledge can be acquired by learning but not experience. And this kind of experience is very rare. This tests our skill, It’s a do or die situation. Drive well and come out of the pool or get stuck ruining your car permanently. 
       
      The experience was all together a very different one. This kept me in a situation where It was all on me. No one to help me, guide me or drive the car. This proved the capabilities of ford Freestyle and my driving skills. The punchy low end torque never worried me or gave a feel of stalling. It never lost the grunt. I successfully came out of it which doubled my confidence in driving and my love towards the car.
       
       
      Accidents & Incidents 
       
      It was 24th of April, 8:45 in the morning. I was driving towards Suchitra Junction to meet my father’s colleague and take my internship certificate which I forgot in her cabin the previous day. I tuned into 98.3 radio mirchi my favourite radio station and was just 5 minutes away from my home when the unexpected saddest thing happened.  

       

       

       
      A construction truck which was coming from the opposite direction taking a 90 degree banged into my car’s rear third quater leaving a really bad damage. It was a hit and run case. Many villagers ran behind him but he fled away leaving me in utter grief. The impact was huge but the damage was small considering the impact.
       
      Did anyone remember this? “the impact was small, but the damage was really huge” “A thought to upgrade to a safer vehicle struck my father’s mind” and this proved to be the right choice, the safer vehicle. 
       
      It was 31st of July, 3:30 in the evening, I was driving  from Tellapur towards Kompally on ORR. An incident which taught me the meaning of hydro planning, made me realise the power of water and yet again made me fall in love with my car.   
      It was raining, the road was good obviously because it’s the ORR a Hyderabadi drivers favourite, the road was empty and there’s a water pool that can be seen on the left most lane.
       
      A child in me touched triple digit speeds (100kmph) from 80kmph wanted to spill the water and went straight onto the waterlogged pool only to loose control over my car. The vehicle immediately lost traction, drifted towards the right, steering was out of my control for few seconds, I tried very hard to steer the car to the left keeping it in the lane and I succeeded.
       
      All thanks to the traction control that my car has. This taught me how much dangerous water can be and the force of water. Never after this incident I touched triple digit speeds during rains. 
       

       
      To sum it up, Freestyle is a car that definitely puts a smile the drivers face. Particularly the TDCi. It’s rightly called a pocket rocket. 

      Freestyle is not about luxury, its rugged, rough, not so comfortable when compared to the competition, the interiors are hard, the plastics are not placed well but as said before its lal about ruggedness and practicality. Once you are behind the wheel of a Ford you’ll forever be the fan of Ford.
       

       
      Srikrishna Bhavaraju
      A true Ford Lover


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