AsiaIndiaGangtok

Sick in Sikkim

Gangtok Travel Blog

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Ride to Gangtok
    After an hour, the jeep left crammed with 12 of us.  The exceptionally beautiful drive to the hills consisted of constant hairpin turns on frequently potholed roads and always along a very steep cliff inches away from our vehicle.  Our driver didn't seem to notice how close we were to near-certain death and instead chatted away on his cell phone, admired the scenery,  turned up the radio, and seemed to be practicing for the Indy 500.  I just listened to Indigo Girls and Sarah McLachlan because it's very hard to feel stressed out when listening to Get Out the Map.

We reached Rangpo and the entire jeep had to wait while I went from office to office to get my permit to enter Sikkim.  Sikkim is a protected area in India, almost like a state that has been turned into a national park, with many rules such as no spitting (thankfully as everyone's hocking loogies on the street throughout the places I've visited), no plastic bags, and no horns in many places.
Road to Gangtok
  Thankfully the jeep was still there after I obtained my permit and we went the 6 hours to Gangtok

Upon arrival I took a share taxi to the actual city of Gangtok and with the help of one of the guys from the jeep found a really great hotel for the night.  I enjoyed a great chicken and aubergine (eggplant) pizza while coughing so loudly I scared the other patrons. 

The next morning I enjoyed my complimentary breakfast of eggs, cereal with boiling hot milk, mango juice, tea, and five pieces of toast (I only ate two) with a stick of butter and half a jar of cherry jelly.  I really don't know if they eat this way normally or if it's what they think an American would want.
Rest stop
  While I ate I actually saw one man carry an entire couch down the street.  They use these long strips of cloth tied in a loop that hooks onto the bottom of the object and slips over their forehead, but I still had a hard time believing it.

I then made my way across the hotel area to find a taxi which took me up to a small monastery.  From there I walked a grueling hour long climb straight up to Ganesh tok (it was hard to tell it was even a path) in very hot, humid weather.  I enjoyed the views of the valley and then walked across the street to the zoo.  The guidebook said you should see this zoo in a car because it is so big.  I, of course, walked several hours seeing the snow leopard, red panda, yaks, and other animals.  The animals are in huge enclosures that are surrouding their natural habitat and signs say clearly that you may not see any animals on your visit due to the natural design.
Some people on the road to Gangtok
  I saw most of the animals, things were so poorly marked (and often for the wrong animal, unless a barking deer looks like a yak) it's hard to say what I may have missed.  You also had to climb these "paths" that were very difficult just to get to the enclosures.  Very strange, but the animals seemed much happier than the ones in the US zoos.  On the way out of the zoo, a bunch of kids were playing with sticks and hoops down the long hill.  A taxi driver on his way to the zoo entrance offered me a free ride back to Ganesh Tok where I walked another mille before finding a taxi back to my hotel.

I had lunch of mushroom soup and stuffed tandoori bread (with potatoes, garlic, and onion, yum!) before finding another taxi to take me to another monastery and Tibetan artifact museum.
Road to Gangtok
  They even had skulls that are used in rituals, in addition to multiple ancient buddha and tara sculptures and sacred texts.  I walked over to the Damovar ropeway which is similar to the skyway at the State Fair all the way up the hill.  It was very cloudy today and I thought it might rain for the first time during my trip, but nothing thus far. 

I then made the very long downhill (for once) walk through the confusing streets to find an internet cafe.  By the way, I learned there was a bird flu outbreak the same day in the exact place I was in while visiting Bangladesh.  But I'm pretty sure my sickness isn't that, since I had it before visiting Dinajpur.  I was very lucky though because apparently they blocked the borders a few hours after I left which would not have been fun.  Tomorrow I plan to head back to Siliguri in the morning then it's the overnight train to Kolkata (Calcutta).
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Ride to Gangtok
Ride to Gangtok
Road to Gangtok
Road to Gangtok
Rest stop
Rest stop
Some people on the road to Gangtok
Some people on the road to Gangtok
Road to Gangtok
Road to Gangtok
Road to Gangtok
Road to Gangtok
Road to Gangtok with monkey
Road to Gangtok with monkey
Views along the drive
Views along the drive
Picture of the valley
Picture of the valley
kid at rest stop
kid at rest stop
Gangtok
photo by: lrecht