ThimphuTech was the first technology blog in Bhutan. We started writing it in 2009, just as broadband and mobile internet started to take off. (Although internet in Bhutan was launched in 1999, it was either super-slow or super-expensive, and was only used by a selected few).

In the blog, we wrote about technology and food, but also about plenty of other stuff. The blog became popular and influential in Bhutan. A companion bi-weekly column -- Ask Boaz -- was published for many years in the Kuensel, Bhutan's national newspaper. (The complete Kuensel columns are available as an ebook, Blogging with Dragons).

We stopped updating the blog when we left Bhutan in 2014, but the information within the posts can still prove useful, and thus we decided to keep it online.

We thank all our readers.
Tashi Delek,
Boaz & Galit.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Let's stop clutch abuse in Bhutan!

With ever-increasing traffic in the Capital, and Bhutan being a "vertical country", drivers often need to halt and then drive their car up an incline. It's easy when your car has an automatic gear, but quite tricky with manual transmission. As most cars in Bhutan have manual transmission, starting a car up a hill is an important skill for drivers. I learned how to drive many years ago in a hilly town, and hill-starting was a crucial part of the driving test. In Bhutan, however, I have yet to meet a taxi driver who is familiar with the proper technique of hill-starting. From conversations with many drivers, this skill is apparently not taught (or tested).

To start moving up a hill, most drivers in Bhutan release the clutch while shifting quickly from the brake to the gas in order to rev up the engine. This is not the correct way of doing it. It is, however, a sure way to dramatically shorten the life of the clutch, as well as increase the chances of shutting down the engine, or causing the car to start rolling backwards...

The proper hill-starting of a car involves a third control: the hand-brake (also known as a parking-brake). Here's how it works:

To stop up hill (temporarily):
  1. Brake as usual.
  2. Once the clutch and brake are fully depressed, pull up the hand-brake. This will hold your car in place - no rolling backwards! Release the brake pedal if you wish.
  3. Shift to first gear. 
To start moving again:
  1. Release the clutch a little while gently pressing on the accelerator. As some point, the car will tilt a tiny bit forward. It's ready to move, but it won't, because the hand-brake keeps it in place.
  2. Now here's the tricky part: Release the hand-brake - the car starts to move slowly forward - and simultaneously keep releasing the clutch gently until it's fully released while gradually adding more gas, and all at the same time. 
This requires some practice (away from traffic, please!), but once you get the hang of it, no more rolling backward or engine shut-down. And your clutch will thank you for this!


  1. This was the classic style of driving in Bhutan, way before hand-operated parking brakes came into vogue.

    Old Fiats, Ambassadors & Jeeps required at least a size 9 foot to operate brake & accelerator pedals simultaneously..

    This driving behavior is a relic of those times.. To their credit, drivers are pretty good at it.. as long as they aren't wearing leather soled shoes.

    1. @anujkp, thanks for the insight, never knew Ambassadors, Jeeps, etc were manufactured without a parking brake!

  2. Some did have parking brakes but not hand operated.

    So the system in this good old days, if one couldn't manage gas & brake pedals, was to lodge a good sized rock behind the wheel. U'll still see people do that in Bhutan.


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