Should've gone to Laos...

Pelling Travel Blog

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I've learned that when travelling alone, it's likely that at some point one's travelling equilibrium is likely to go to pot. Something will set it off, and suddenly lots of little things pile up and...bleh. It happened in Chengdu one day last year, and it happened in Pelling yesterday evening.

To be fair, Pelling's a bit of a hole. It consists of a street of half built hotels, with no infrastructure to go with it. It exists because it has a stunning view of the Kanchenjunga range, and... well, that's it. No shop. Nothing to do. Just an unattractive road. And what there is of it shuts down at 8pm. All of that's not helpful when you're alone. I need places to wander, and things to look at. But worst of all, the driver yesterday had implied that given climate conditions for the next week, the chances of me seeing the mountains were slim to say the least.

So why was I here at all? It wasn't a good evening. I should have gone to Laos...or Nepal..or Kashgar...or anywhere that had been on the 'possibles' list. To say I was fed up was putting it mildly.

I tried to cheer myself up by chatting to a bunch of Americans on an organised trekking trip, and a Swedish young couple. The I found that one of the paan stands outside the hotel sold chocolate. I bought it with two minutes to go before the curfew, bolted it down, and was in bed by 8:15 - and mercifully asleep by 9.

But...I set my alarm for 5 in the faint hope that the mountains might appear at that clearest time of the day. Got up...tottered to the window, and... mist. Tottered back to bed. Got up at seven, went to get dressed - and there was the Kanchenjunga range!!! At last. I felt better imediately, and suddenly was back on track.

I spent the day exploring the circuit of Kacheopari lake, Yuksom and Tashiding. More stunning, vertiginous* scenery. It's a very flowery and fertile area - today I saw palms, cacti, bamboo, rhododendrons, azaleas and alpines. Is that even possible in one place? What sort of climate is this?

Being Sikkim, of course there were more monasteries and holy places. At one, I watched discreetly as four child monks had their English lesson on the lawn. The teacher was teaching them by rote - a word of the book at a time. "These - these, holes - holes, are - are, called - called, nostrils - nostrils"

Called at a roadside stand for lunch. I didn't have a clue what anything was, but ordered egg thukpa. It turned out to be a noodle soup with scrambled egg in. Lovely.

Ever wondered how stone chippings were made? Road repairs were happening in an ad hoc fashion. At each spot I saw women sat atop piles of stone chippings.Chipping big rocks into chippings by hand. I found that depressing.

*Talking of vertiginous.. one of the people that yesterday's driver introduced me to, was his old driving teacher. Good grief. Forget astronauts and stuntmen. Being a driving instructor here must require nerves of steel.

capell says:
I am AMAZED and full of admiration that you are travelling again and this time in India. Have you met Ulla yet as she is there now?! I have so enjoyed reading all your daily comments which are very humorous.Rod was peering over my shoulder pretty gobsmacked at your daring.Enjoy the last few days. I shall be following them from the safety of my home. Love Pauline
Posted on: Mar 31, 2008
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