Got my head in the clouds here in the Himalayas.
Sikkim Travel Blog› entry 92 of 251 › view all entries
June 3rd, 2008 – by: cmgervais
More rain. When we got up it was pouring buckets, in fact it had all night. The view from our room was like we had taken up residence in a cloud. While we waited for breakfast in the lobby, we studied a painting of the mountains that are supposedly visible from the hotel. It’s the only proof we have that they exist at this point!
Breakfast was almost an hour late…they haven’t been prompt about the serving time for any of the meals yet, but that’s the worst it has been.
When we were finally eating, our driver came over with a brochure that showed the surrounding area’s sights. He pointed some out to me (me! I was flattered. I am continually ignored here, as everything is addressed to Steve. The driver even talking to me was kind of a big step, I think). The brochure showed several waterfalls, a lake, several monasteries, and a few temples.
We got in the car with the understanding that we were headed off to the Lake. Not just any lake…it is Khecheopalri, or the “Wish Fulfilling” Lake. For two hours we bounced around in the back of the Chevy SUV, which he had in low gear, 4WD the whole way. Not only was the road winding and narrow, but in some areas it had been washed away. In other areas, they was no pavement -- just rocks. It made for a bumpy ride.
We finally arrived at a small parking area, surrounding by a few shacks selling chips and soda. Our driver, as he is wont to do every 30 seconds, gave several honks of his horn as we entered. (As we drive, he is constantly honking, just in case there is an oncoming car, I guess). The area was serene and quiet, and one man became very upset with us because of that honk.
The rain had ceased, and our driver said “2-hour walk” so I was very happy about how the day was shaping up. The path was green and mossy -- beautiful. I was really looking forward to the next two hours. After 10 minutes or so we came to the lake, which was completely festooned with bedraggled prayer flags. It looked kind of cool, but trashy too. The small lake was very misty and calm, and surrounded by greenery (in addition to the prayer flags). Some people were at the end of a pier chanting and praying. Our driver indicated that we should go out there, but we didn’t want to interfere or disturb them. So he ran out with his shoes on (the sign said no shoes!) and talked to them, then came back and told us it was OK to go out.
From there, I started off back down the path, ready to continue the two-hour walk. The driver (BTW, his name is really long so I just call him Doofus. Sorry, but it really fits) ran after me, “Stop!” he said. What? This is the path around the lake, right? He said “it’s prohibited. Black bears. Impossible.” At least that’s what I think he said. So there was no two-hour walk. This was just the first of a long series of miscommunications that occurred over the course of the day.
We set off again, and the next stop a huge waterfall.
The road to the waterfall was indeed even worse, if it’s possible. We had to cross some very scary bridges that seemed like they might fall away behind us. We met very few other cars, and we were the only ones at the waterfall -- which, by the way, was completely spectacular. There was a short walk to a viewing platform, and we could see the valley roll out below us. There were clouds above us and below us. The only thing that could have made it better is if there had been a hike of some sort, but no luck there.
The itinerary said there was a monastery to visit on the way home, which was also on his brochure.
We had the afternoon to ourselves. Did some reading, then… Naps! When we woke up, there was a glimpse of some foothills outside our window...the clouds had cleared! Well, kind of. We excitedly went outside to the front yard, where some other guests (all Indian families) were standing and facing towards the mountains as well. They were talking in excited tones in high volume, but I am beginning to understand that every Indian conversation sounds excited and loud.
Although we saw bits of sky and shadows of foothills, the mountains themselves did not make an appearance. Steve and I feel very hopeful that tomorrow it would be completely clear and we will see these damn mountains at last.
We then made the short but steep hike to the monastery just across the way. (We snuck past Doofus so he wouldn’t try to accompany us and ruin our walk.) A monk there said “Namaste” to us, which is a really nice sort of greeting. While we were exploring the grounds, the fog rolled in again, and we hurried back lest we be stuck in the dark and fog. A dog followed us back, and I scratched his ears. Then I was paranoid about picking up fleas.
I could hardly eat dinner, I am so sick of damn cardamom and curry. And everything is so mushy! They had a “green salad” which was cucumbers, carrots, and unripe tomatoes. I filled my plate with the crunchy tomatoes and ate them all. The naan (puffy bread) was delicious though -- I love it. It needs something though…Steve and I both agreed we should have brought a jar of peanut butter with us to India.
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