Seven sensational sleeps in Sikkim

January 20, 2013 by Karen

Seven sensational sleeps in Sikkim

‘The tiny and beautiful state of Sikkim lies south of Tibet, sandwiched between Nepal to the west and Bhutan to the east. Measuring just 65km by 115km, its landscape ranges from sweltering deep valleys just 300m above sea level to lofty snow peaks such as Kanchenjunga, at 8586m the third-highest mountain in the world. A small but growing network of tortuous roads penetrate this rugged Himalayan wilderness, but they take a massive battering every monsoon, with large and frequent landslides disrupting communications.’

Rough guide India

We said goodbye to Lynne and Les and left Varanasi excited about going up to Sikkim. We had to contain our excitement with a four hour delay at the Howrath train station, probably our worst train station experience yet! Our train finally arrived and by the time we reached NJP we were seven and a half hours behind schedule. We decided to take a shared jeep from the NJP train station and were all set (sort of comfortable) in the very back seat with one other local. Suddenly a rather large man came along and apparently he was coming in the back with us. This would have made two people in the front with the driver, four people across the middle seat (with only three seats) and four people across the custom made back seat which was barely comfortable with three of us! This is common practise but there was no way another person could physically fit in the back with us or anywhere else in the jeep for that matter. It would have been torture for five minutes let alone for a four hour drive up some notoriously bumpy roads. We got out, pulled our own bags off the roof take and got our money back. By this stage we were pretty tired but found a autorickshaw to take us into Siliguri where we negotiated our own jeep to transport us to Gangtok.
It was great to wake up in such a beautiful, clean place.
A very scary Santa was wandering through the mall. He made a few children cry but was handing out lollies!
We took a day trip out to Lake Tsomgo, about 11 km short of the Tibetan border.
I loved this sign along the way and we were actually driving slow enough to get a photo.
It is only a 35 km drive but the roads made it a much longer journey.
Tsomgo lake (3750m above sea level)
There were a lot of beautiful yaks just waiting to be ridden. The prices they were quoting were ridiculously high so we walked around the lake instead.
The area is restricted and we needed a special permit for this day trip. There is a big army presence in the area as it is so close to the Chinese border. These were some of the Indian army barracks which I am sure we probably should not have been taking pictures of.
These tourists were obviously rich!
We enjoyed a walk through the market just before lunch.
Nick loved the sweater vests and thought about getting himself one!
We enjoyed momos and veg fried rice for lunch in the sunshine.
We took another day trip out to see the Rumtek and Lingdum monastaries.
Arriving in Rumtek
Lingdum Monastary
We loved this sign which was clearly for the Indian tourists!
We were stuck in a traffic jam on the way back to Gangtok thanks to a truck breaking down and having to transfer its load.

The view from our hotel on our last morning in Gangtok was spectacular when the weather finally cleared up! We stayed at the Hotel Pomra in Gangtok and would definitely recommend it!

We hired a driver from Gangtok to Pelling. This was the view from our coffee stop along the way.
We also had a quick stop at the Bon Monastary.
We finally arrived in Pelling and checked into the Kabur Hotel, breaking the record for the cheapest room of our trip. It cost a total of $8.45 for the night!
View from our room
Our first afternoon was spent walking up to the Monastary.
We then went to visit the ruins of the ancient Palace.
We loved these encouraging signs!
The view was spectacular and you could see why they had chosen this site as the ancient capital.
On the way back to the hotel we noticed this ‘name dropper!’
The beautiful sunset


On Christmas eve we walked up to see the Karma Rabtenling Monastary. Why were all the sights uphill??
We made it!
We checked out of our $8.45 hotel and thanks to the generosity of Nick’s mum and dad, and his gorgeous sister Danielle we checked into The Elgin mount Pandim. Thanks for our amazing Christmas present!!
We celebrated Christmas with a lovely dinner on Christmas Eve, complete with party hats and Christmas crackers that almost set the table cloth on fire. Only in India!
On Christmas morning we had some fun at the local fair! The object of the game was to use the bamboo stick to put the ring over the end of the beer bottle.
We spent the rest of Christmas day enjoying the sunshine in the garden of the hotel, reading and drinking….tea!
This made me laugh on the menu for our Christmas dinner!
Tshering and Ian, the gorgeous managers of The Elgin Mount Pelling made us feel very welcome.

Our seven sensation nights in Sikkim ended happily as we made our way back to Siliguri to spend the night before our A/C chair class ride back to Kolkata.


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