22nd December Mumbai/Chennai – Delhi –Bagdogara - Gangtok
Sleepless night, early morning flight – tiring! The gang met in Delhi – made fun of and embarrassed sis (cant seem to stop myself, and in my defense she does the same!). Flights are such a drag, so whiled away Delhi to Bagdogra by wondering if we should rag the airhostesses and cracking up. Ride to Gangtok was beautiful, with Teesta for company. Decided Momos were not our ‘plate of snacks’. Our first landslide experience was a 30 min stop in the drive. Shocked by nightfall at 5.30. Dinner at 9 – we were the only souls roaming around Gangtok.
23rd and 24th December Gangtok – Lachung (stayover) –Katao –Lachung – Yumthang – Zero point –Lachung –Gangtok
Yep- Days 2/3 were a long road trip with most of the time spent inside a Mahindra Maxx with a family from Calcutta. It was a family of 6, with the 2 women nagging their men, particularly one lady yelling ALL the time. The 2 spoilt brats of daughters couldn’t have sulked more – in fact I felt like slapping them and asking them to behave- luckily, they were not my kids. The trip started of auspiciously with us and the family fighting for ‘preferred seats’ in the Maxx. And the lady continued to yell more often than not – to keep us company – until we and then the driver told her to shut up. Seriously, I would have hated myself if I kept nagging like that. Of course, for us the funny family was an added entertainment other than being a mild irritant – so no hassles.
Loved Lachung. Loved the drive from Chungthang to Lachung. The feeling of driving down to a valley surrounded by gigantic and humbling mountains was beautiful. Infact, it was “night” when we started our descent and all we could see was a cluster of lights from the village cradled between stern, tall rock faces standing like guards – it almost felt like this town was hidden from the outside –like a Shangri-la (Lost Horizon, James Hilton – I loved this book btw, and they don’t write like this anymore!).
Woke up 4 in the morning to Katao – it was once again a fantastic drive. Freezing cold morning, but still managed a quick hike beyond the final driving point. Saw sun rise over the mountains – a beautiful sight. Its lovely how the sky turns pink, peach and golden, colors I haven’t seen before on the sky. Then to Yumthang and zero point – both a slight disappointment in comparison. Lunch at Katao resorts, Lachung. Loved lazing around in the terrace, by the log shelf – the location felt like a swiss cabin house (or what I think a swiss cabin house could be!) – would have loved to spend the afternoon cuddled around a book right here on that terrace – but had to head back to Gangtok!
25th December Gangtok – Kewzing
More driving – today we were off to Kewzing. A late start and a 3-4 hours drive passing through lovely tea gardens, it was well after 4 when we reached. A welcome ‘ceremony’ in the Kewzing monsatry and a hike to our homestay. It was almost night (5:00 p.m) before we got settled. At our pleading references to “hikes”, Mr.prez took us around the village on a one –two hour hike. The lepcha monastry burning bright atop the hill was a lovely sight. A nice campfire, starry skies, a taste of ‘chang’, classic rock songs (for once loved mobile phones) finished with a hot tasty dinner.
26th December Kewzing
Today was monastery day – hiked through village – we were totally in love with these cute wooden bhutia house by now (not to mention the priceless location!). On through a cardamom forests for a nice hour to Bon Monastery’ (an older form of Buddhism, and this is one of the oldest monastry or Gompa for ‘Bon’) – then on to Lepcha monastery or Mangbrue monastery.
Our hike from Bon to lepcha was exceptional starting of behind an old colonial house passing through Stupa ruins, views of the beautiful valley and river Rangit. On the whole, a fantastic trek!
We loved this spot - I thought this point made a good suicide point - but others thought it would be too bloody.
Afternoon spent outside gazing at mountains, warming in front of fire, with what my sis calls ‘soul to soul’ conversations with her! Then a lost cell phone, a night hike (no lights except for the stars! Ok, alright, I had a small torch, though I tried to keep it shut when i could) with the search party, and a scary, scintillating village fight to spice the stay and day!
27th December Kewzing – Reshi hot springs – Tashiding Monastry – Legship –Yuksom
After goodbyes to the bhutia family and loads of last minute pics, we set of to Reshi - hot springs or tatopani were a disappointment and didnt match up to my vision of a jacuzzi in the middle of a seculded forest. Drove to Tashiding monastery. 40 min walk according to our driver took nearly 2 good hours including our breaks - headed to Yuksom, hungry and even more hungry. Maggi and rounds of literature for the night - the latter after a long long time!
28th December Kanchendzonga
Today's plan was to trek in Kahnchendznga national park. We targetted the second bridge (6km one way). Interesting route filled with lose rocks and loose mud has all concentrating on every step. I love trekking like that, where all your six senses are tuned into gauging ur next step, foothold. Tiring, but fun! Supposed to Dubdi monastry and a couple of ASI sites- gave it a pass.
29th December Yuksom - Khecheoplari - Pelling - Kalimpong
Started off to Khecheoplari. This trail was once again different from any of the other we had done - and most tiring as most of it was uphill. Lake itself wasnt very pretty. Lit lamps for wishes. Savored the truly fantastic maggi and steaming chai. Quick stop at Rabdintse. Another short hike to the palace - the palace is perched almost at the edge of mountains and the location is breathtaking. Continued to search for the Kanchendzonga peak - which proved elusive. Landed in Kalimpong when town was half asleep for a halt.
30th December Kalimpong -Malli (rafting)- silguri
Rafting started at Malli (2km from) Kalimpong to 29th mile - yep, lots of places are named in just miles like 4th mile, 5th mile! Not sure if this rafting was better than dandeli or not, though dandeli is more professionally organized, but was fun. And cold - the raft-man tells us 'u jump once, u'll want to do it over and over again' - we did ,and we realised that he meant 'if u havent frozen to death already, jump in again!'. Cold rafting followed by some hot and spicy samosa chat. Night at Silguri spent watching 'Welcome' and no the movie isnt welcome. though i was in splits mre because i was in a cranky mood rather than the movie.
The gang that went - all ready to raft
31st Back to Mumbai
And finally we were off to Mumbai. flight delay by 3-4 hours - more literature - strategising on how to handle the 45 min trfr time at calcutta for sister's chn flight. in the end, it all worked out. Spent the whole day in airports- slipped into bed, the moment i got back and slept through new years!