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Leaving Pelling without a peek at the peak. (photos added)

Sikkim Travel Blog

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Steve tries to find the mountains in there. No luck.
Fodor’s travel guide says, “Pelling is a tiny provincial town with just one sight -- Mt. Kanchenjunga. People flock here to view the grand peak by dawn.”

Today I got up once again at dawn and peeked hopefully out the window. Nope. Still fogged in. Damn.

So we left Pelling today without even seeing our (reportedly) gorgeous surroundings. What’s frustrating is that we know those mountains are just over there, looking all big and majestic…

We have five more days in Sikkim, so we think we will have some luck eventually. But as we got in the car today Steve said, “What a tragedy if we were to endure all this and not even see the mountain!”

By “endure all this” he meant the unclean hotels, no Internet, difficult accents, greasy food three times a day and hours of driving on crazy roads.
Our waiter for three days. He was sweet... even though he did ignore me most of the time.
I would add to that list the weird Indian service culture, which I just can’t understand in the least. Let me give some examples:

Example 1: Steve and I enter the restaurant and head to our “regular” table. The waiter rushes to pull Steve’s chair out for him. I am left to seat myself.

Example 2: The waiter asks Steve what he would like to drink. Steve says, Coffee please. The waiter walks off and I call after him, Oh, and I’d like tea, please!

Example 3: We are sitting at the table, both with empty bread plates. The waiter arrives with steaming basket of chappata.
Path to the Rabdentse ruins.
Mmmm, smells great. “Sir, would you like some bread?” and Steve answers, “No thank you.” Away goes the waiter, carrying with him that steaming basket of bread…


Example 4: We approach the front desk and I make an inquiry to the clerk. The clerk directs his response to Steve.

In their defense, there were some cases, i.e. the tea situation, the waiters did figure out that I’d be ordering for myself and after a couple times started confirming directly with me. But geez! I have never experienced anything like it! I am the invisible woman here. I really don’t understand anything about this culture.

So, on to our car ride: we rode with the same guy, who I call Doofus.
Rabdentse ruins.
We had a stop at some ruins, then many hours of driving, driving, driving. We saw landslides along the way, being cleared manually by groups of men and women doing really hard physical labor (women get heavy lifting jobs, and they can also be frequently seen on the side of the road, breaking up large rocks with small picks to make gravel. What a job.) We had a near continual argument with our driver. He kept insisted we go to the monastery in Rumtek. We didn’t want to go there and asked to go directly to the hotel. He wouldn’t drop it, and brought it up so frequently we began to get very annoyed with him. I asked, “do you lose income if we don’t go there?” trying to get to the heart of the matter. “No, my boss says you go there. My duty.” We just couldn’t get across to him that it is our trip, we are the ones paying for it… and we don’t want to go to any more ugly 1960s monasteries! He fretted in incomprehensible English during the whole trip, and generally drove us nuts.
There's a new twist -- stand or sit!


We arrived at Nor-Khill, another Elgin hotel, with high expectations. It is a former “royal guesthouse,” and Fodor’s has given this place a Fodor’s Choice star. I almost always agree with Fodor’s choices. Mostly I was looking forward to the Western food they reportedly serve in their restaurant…

The lobby was highly decorated and very fancy. I spoke with the man behind the desk --  who was wearing a very spiffy suit --  and he did not ignore me or address his responses to Steve across the room. There’s a good sign!

It was 2:30pm and we were just in time to catch lunch. We saw the silver buffet dishes and quickly realized… it’s same food here as the other places. Ugh. Enough already. And where is this “Western fare” we’ve been promised?! We ate our damn Indian food and went to our room.
A shopping stop. Look at the guy on the right!


Our room is a good size, with ornate furniture placed kind of haphazardly around the perimeter. It seems cleaner overall, but the bathroom is not nice at all. No Internet in the room, but there is a Business Center where we can use their really old computer (Steve tried to hook up my computer to their Internet but it wouldn’t work). I used Steve’s Blackberry to transfer photos and blog entries to their computer, and then spent hours trying to upload the photos. I finally gave up… I will just have to do it later.  

At dinner, I created a bit of an International Incident when I asked if it was possible to order some different food. Maybe an egg sandwich or some vegetables that aren’t fried to death? The waiter tried to talk me into the Indian buffet, and then another guy joined the mix as they tried to figure out what I was saying.
Little cutie.
Soon the Spiffy Suit Man from earlier in the day came to the table and said something like, “I understand you don’t like our Indian food?” I assured him that the food had been excellent thus far, but that I was hoping for something with less spice to “help my stomach” (which isn’t reacting well to this food). In the end I received a grilled cheese sandwich, which was perhaps the best grilled cheese sandwich I have had in my life. Bless them… they served it with ketchup!

Now that things are going our way :^), I am sure the fog will lift and we will see those Himalayas TOMORROW!

lrecht says:
Hope the weather clears up for you - Khanchendzonga is where we did a long trek and it was really spectacular.

PS - the attitude towards women gets worse in other parts, be prepared!
Larry and Cindy
Posted on: Jun 07, 2008
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Steve tries to find the mountains …
Steve tries to find the mountains…
Our waiter for three days. He was …
Our waiter for three days. He was…
Path to the Rabdentse ruins.
Path to the Rabdentse ruins.
Rabdentse ruins.
Rabdentse ruins.
Theres a new twist -- stand or si…
There's a new twist -- stand or s…
A shopping stop. Look at the guy o…
A shopping stop. Look at the guy …
Little cutie.
Little cutie.
At the Rabdentse ruins.
At the Rabdentse ruins.
At the Rabdentse ruins.
At the Rabdentse ruins.
At the Rabdentse ruins.
At the Rabdentse ruins.
View from the Rabdentse ruins.
View from the Rabdentse ruins.
At the Rabdentse ruins.
At the Rabdentse ruins.
Rugged roadside home.
Rugged roadside home.
Rugged roadside home.
Rugged roadside home.
This town was full of very clean d…
This town was full of very clean …
Some town on the way to Gangtok.
Some town on the way to Gangtok.
Vegetables for sale.
Vegetables for sale.
Theres one getting a bath!
There's one getting a bath!
Roadside monkeys looking for hando…
Roadside monkeys looking for hand…
A stop in crappy Rangpo for anothe…
A stop in crappy Rangpo for anoth…
They called it a cheese sandwich.
They called it a cheese sandwich.
Rangpo.
Rangpo.
Swimmers.
Swimmers.
Laundry day.
Laundry day.