AsiaIndiaGangtok

Gangtok attractions we could have done without.

Gangtok Travel Blog

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Prayer wheels at Enchey monastery.
I normally prefer the DIY version of travel, but Sikkim, India seemed like one big difficult mystery, with special permit requirements, long drives between towns, and a general dearth of information. So I booked a 10-day package trip that includes hotel, transportation, and some sightseeing excursions, too.

Seven days into said trip, it occurs to me that the itinerary (which I admittedly didn’t study too closely in advance) was developed for far different travelers… perhaps an elderly Indian couple. Today’s sightseeing trip around Gangtok was positive proof of this.

We visited six places in all, what they call a “six-point tour.”  None of them was even vaguely interesting to either of us, so we managed to get through all of it before noon (it was supposed to last ‘til 3pm).

1) First stop was the Enchey monastery.
They had some live ones too, at the flower show.
It was in a nice pine forest, but the building itself was pretty trashy. There wasn’t too much to look at. I got a nice photo of a lady at the prayer wheels though, so I guess it was a worthwhile stop after all.

2)  Next up was the Flower Show, a small hall filled with cut flowers, the majority of them way past their freshness date. I got one of my prettiest flower pictures, ever, there. Steve insisted that I also photograph the dead flowers, too, for a truer representation of the site. BTW, this place was full of Indian tourists. This is a rural area, so I guess there’s not a whole lot to do.

3) Then we went to a government-sponsored craft school, the Institute of Craft Industries, where children and young adults were learning traditional techniques in wood carving and weaving.
Interesting 4-stringed instrument at the Institute of Craft Industries.
There was a small museum with textiles labeled like,  “hand made rug. 18 years old.”  Nothing was very old or very precious, but it was all jealously guarded and no photos were allowed. Steve was interested in a four-string instrument on display, so I sneaked back in a snapped a photo when no one was looking. Take that! We peeked in on students dong their lessons and learned that carpet weaving is tedious work! They had a small shop where I bought a scary mask for my dear friend Lisa. It is sure to give her nightmares for years to come.

OK, we are halfway done at this point in our countdown of crappy sights!  

4) Then we went to the Research Institute of Tibetology. Steve waited outside because he didn’t want to take off his shoes.
Scary, slack cable car to Nam Nang Viewpoint.
I went in to study some old manuscripts and look at about a million Buddha statues. There were signs everywhere that said “SILENCE PLEASE” and of course everyone was ignoring them. Hey, people, there’s no need to yell when you are having a conversation with someone one foot away.

5) From there it was a short walk up a steep hill to the Chorten Stupa. Bult in 1945. I have seen enough of these to last a lifetime.

6) And finally, we took a cable car to the Nam Nang Viewpoint, above the city. I forgot all about being afraid of heights until after we had boarded and the rickety thing started off on its journey. The cable seemed too slack, our link to it quite tenuous, and it was incredibly hot in the overcrowded car. I felt shaky and nervous and inexplicably weepy.
Our hotel.
  I was so happy to get off. The viewpoint was mainly clouds, but we could see a small mountain off in the distance. No snow-covered peaks, however. I have all but given up on that.

Home at last! I set to work in the mothball-scented business center, managing to book airfare and hotels through Jordan. I was very productive! Then we had dinner, which was one of the best dinners thus far on this tour. It was comprised of the special boiled vegetables they now automatically make me for every meal, and some really tasty Indian food I have never had before (Paneer Bhujia, which is a homemade cottage cheese-like dish, plus a salad made of what I would describe as adzuki bean sprouts.)

Tomorrow we are off to Darjeeling, reportedly a five-hour drive. We are both feeling like, “oh, dang, we have three more days of this.”  Hopefully the hotel will be better yet, although it’s quite likely to be like the rest: quaint, charming, scruffy, and low on the  cleanliness scale.

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Prayer wheels at Enchey monastery.
Prayer wheels at Enchey monastery.
They had some live ones too, at th…
They had some live ones too, at t…
Interesting 4-stringed instrument …
Interesting 4-stringed instrument…
Scary, slack cable car to Nam Nang…
Scary, slack cable car to Nam Nan…
Our hotel.
Our hotel.
Small tyke at Enchey monastery. Gr…
Small tyke at Enchey monastery. G…
Half dead flowers at the flower sh…
Half dead flowers at the flower s…
Weaving a rug at the Institute of …
Weaving a rug at the Institute of…
Blue sky!
Blue sky!
Research Institute of Tibetology.
Research Institute of Tibetology.
Photo from Nam Nang Viewpoint.
Photo from Nam Nang Viewpoint.
Photo from Nam Nang Viewpoint.
Photo from Nam Nang Viewpoint.
Nam Nang Viewpoint prayer flags.
Nam Nang Viewpoint prayer flags.
Nam Nang Viewpoint prayer flags.
Nam Nang Viewpoint prayer flags.
Stone work on the path to Nam Nang…
Stone work on the path to Nam Nan…
The cable car return trip.
The cable car return trip.
Fellow passengers on the cable car…
Fellow passengers on the cable ca…
Cute little guy with his own set o…
Cute little guy with his own set …
Let me off!
Let me off!
Gangtok from above.
Gangtok from above.
Our cab driver. His window said, …
Our cab driver. His window said, …
About 100 years behind in disease …
About 100 years behind in disease…
Gangtok
photo by: lrecht