Sikkim Trip Report April 2013
Replies: 5 - Last Post: May 17, 2013 2:44 PM Last Post By: scoodly
May 9, 2013 4:14 PM
Sikkim Trip Report April 2013In April I spent 18 days in India and Sikkim: Bagdogra – Darjeeling – Pelling – Temi – Namchi – Lachung – Lachen – Gangtok – Siliguri. A very nice trip. We had rain part of every day except one. We came to see nature and that is part of it. We never did get a clear view of Mt. Kangchenjunga.
In Darjeeling, Pelling and Gangtok we stayed at the Elgin. They were all good. Darjeeling’s had the most character and nicest staff, Pelling was the most up to date and Gangtok had the best food. In Temi we stayed at the Cherry Resort which was terrible and for the first time in 40 years we changed hotels. We moved to the Hotel Valley View in Namchi which I highly recommend. Small, family run with good food.
Home was the Yarlam Resort in Lachung. Vary large and clean but without character. The Apple Orchard in Lachen was my favorite in all respects. The manager walked with us around town just to be nice.
Darjeeling was fun and gave us a chance to recover from jetlag. We walked a lot and acclimated to the altitude. One day we visited the Tukvar Tea Estate while women picked tea and toured the factory. In Pelling we had a great view of the mountains but could not see them because of fog. The monks were chanting at Pemayangtsi Monastery. We sat and watched for a while before walking upstairs to the 2nd and 3rd floors. Amazing experience.
In Rabong we stopped at Buddha Park. Absolutely worth a visit. Very large with a statute of Buddha filling the entire sky. The main building had a circular ramp inside to walk up 3 stories. Every surface was covered in magnificent hand painted murals. Beautiful! No photography allowed so I need to keep the vision in my head.
Khecheodpalri Lake was another day’s ride. Spiritual and beautiful. Another day we drove through the Rhododendron Sanctuary on our way to the Yumthang Valley. We saw yaks and flowers.
Both Namchi and Gangtok have malls without cars. Gangtok has a large vegetable market. I was there on market day during a thunderstorm when the electric went out. Got some good photos in the dark.
Prior to my trip I read a lot about the danger of driving on the mountain roads. Very over-exaggerated. The roads were more uncomfortable than dangerous. Rocks, stones, holes, mud, running water are some of the conditions we drove on, through and over. While it is true they do not have guard rails, they do have rocks, small piles of dirt and trees. The roads are much wider than I expected and only twice did we need to back up to let someone get by. We had the same driver for the whole trip and he was experienced and careful. For the whole trip we only saw 2 accidents. The first was a car with a smashed windshield from within (no one wears seat belts) and the second was a truck that had driven over the edge. They had just hauled it up and I doubt the driver survived.
Tip – After the first day I asked our driver to find our seat belts which he did. We wore them and I felt more secure but even more importantly they held me in place over all the bumps which was much more comfortable.
We did have some issues with our travel agent, Sikkim Travel Express, and I strongly do not recommend them. For details send me a private message.
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