Beautiful North Sikkim

20 Oct

This is going to be a long post…we haven’t had decent Internets service for about two weeks, when we did, it was worse than dial-up. It was surprising with how remote Sikkim was that we had any Internet at all.

Remote is exactly what we needed. It was totally green- from tropical rainforests with beautiful flowers in neon reds, oranges and yellows to evergreen trees that precariously hold on to mountain cliffs. Waterfalls seemed to materialize from nowhere If Darjeeling felt like being in the clouds, then Sikkim is about BEING the clouds.

Our trip to North Sikkim was stunning- we spent most of the first day driving- around six hours of hair-pin turns that just seemed to keep going up and up and up. As I looked down the side of the mountain 1500 feet to the valley floor on a pock-marked road with no guard rails that was only big enough for one jeep I realized how freakin’ great these jeep drivers truly are. I felt totally safe- or as safe as I could be in a jeep hanging onto the side of a mountain.

Our first night was spent in Lachung at the Modern Residency- a hotel that was designed to look like a Buddhist Monastery. Set on a hillside above Lachung at an altitude of 8500 feet with HUGE mountains and waterfalls all around us, we finally found some peace and quiet- no dogs barking, no horns blowing, no men hawking up lung cheese in the morning.

The next day we took a trip to the Yumthang Valley (12,000 feet) and spent some time watching the glacial waters of the Teesta River as it made its way from the glaciers of the Kanchanjunga Range to the valley floor about 10,000 feet below growing more powerful as it cut its way through the valley. Wild herds of Yaks roamed the valley which were surprisingly spry and playful. I had no idea that a beast that big could move so fast.

From there we walked about 2 km to a hot sulfur spring for a quick dip. I went into the spring with Astrid and two women that were on the tour with us- no big deal in the West…as we exited the spring (set inside a mud brick building) about twenty Indian soldiers were waiting their turn to go inside and see the spring. As they were snapping photos of themselves on of the soldiers turned to me and asked me if I was bathing with the women. I said “Yes.” He turned to all of his friends and started speaking rapidly in Hindi and at one point I heard the word “together.” All of the soldiers gasped and turned to me in unison, mouths gaping open. The they wanted to take pictures of me, Astrid and the rest of the group that *gasp* bathed together. They were actually quite nice and had chai with us after their initial shock.

We left the hot springs and walked another 8 km until the jeep pulled up behind us and took us back to the hotel.

The next day we drove back to Gangtok and stayed there for the evening before leaving for Pelling early the next morning.

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