Road trip

Pelling Travel Blog

 › entry 9 of 15 › view all entries
When I looked at the journey to Pelling, which I'd planned to do by shared jeep. I realised that I'd be travelling through and/or nearby some really interesting and beautiful places. But on a shared jeep we'd just sail straight by. So I made the extravagant decision to spend ten times as much to get a car and driver to do the trip, and take a few detours. I was a bit worried though, that I was going to be missing out somehow - sanitising the journey.
I needn't have worried. My driver was great. He spoke very good English, as he had been a government official, before giving  it up to get experience in the tourism business. He hopes to open a guesthouse in his rural village in a year or two.
He was a fount of information, and as we passed through his village I got introduced to just about everyone. We gave a lift to a local policeman for a mile or two, which was a great help when we got stuck behind some arguing drivers. He leaned out of the window, blew imperiously on his whistle and everyone moved quickly!

The journey took us through spectacular scenery, even better than the stuff I've seen so far. We stopped at a tea plantation, stopped to visit a local market (where he took me into the shabbiest, darkest little cafe place where I had some amazing special fried roti thing and some lovely spicy soup. I'd never have gone in there on my own). Then I had tea - the hot, milky pre- sweetened stuff that I'm getting quite fond of.
But this time it was different. As I put it to my lips there was an amazing fragrance . Apparently the lady at the cafe added cardamom and a tiny amount of ginger. 
It didn't really change the taste of the tea, apart from making it taste like the best tea
 ever - but the aroma was wonderful.

At one point we crossed the rushing river Teesta on the scariest wobbliest tin bridge I've ever seen. I was even more nervous when the
driver offered up a prayer as we started crossing it!

I learned so much today. Not just about the history of Sikkim, but the chap's opinions on Bengalis (who make up virtually all of Sikkim's tourists -apparently they are very 'loudy' people, and Gangtok becomes like Kolkata in the season) about what the hunger strikers I passed every time I walked from my guesthouse into town, were protesting about ( a proposed dam in a holy part of North Sikkim)- and, well, pretty much everything.
 I discovered that I was very lucky to get to 
Tsomgo lake when I did. The night 
of the hailstorm, there was really heavy snow, and the road is now closed.

Got to Pelling, only to find Kanchenjunga behind cloud again. This is starting to be frustrating. Checked into my two pounds fifty a night hostel - (with a great view from my room, should the mountain ever choose to appear), and came here to check emails. When I discovered that it's the only internet place in town, has one computer (dial up), opens when it feels like it, but obviously not during the regular four hour power cuts, I decided I'd better do this while the going was good. I may not have chance to add more untill I get back into West Bengal.

So sorry this isn't one of my better entries. It's rushed and 'off the top of my head'. See you when I do...
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photo by: Stevie_Wes