Ravangla and the Mt. Narsing Resort
Gangtok Travel Blog› entry 21 of 58 › view all entries
Well after six hours of winding down from the cool hills of
We piled our junk into an Indian SUV type car and made our way out of crazy Jaigoan and into the countryside.
Since many of you probably don’t know much about
Back in the eighth century, Guru Padmasambhava (a.k.a. Guru Rimpoche of Bhutanese fame) prophesied that
The Choygal’s ruled until the eighteenth century when the Nepalese started taking Sikkimese territory. Along come the British who defeat the Nepalese but had imperialistic interests in
And now back to the blog…
Neither Thupten nor Tashi, who drove like a meth freak, glaring and honking at other drivers who wouldn’t let him pass, was particularly talkative and we finally resorted to listening to audio books.
We went into the main building/restaurant and had some tea while we waited for Karma, the owner, to show up. The building is really funky with all kinds of Tibetan ornamentation, funny pictures, stuffed animals, etc. Kind of like a homey, bizarre mountain hunting lodge but comfy and friendly. After a bit, Karma did show up and graciously treated us to dinner and beers as well as some of his personal stash of Peter Scot Whiskey. He is a really nice, friendly, well-spoken man and we instantly liked him. We talked for quite a while about all kinds of stuff and he was interesting, funny and genuinely a really nice guy. We are glad we ended up choosing Yuksom Tours for our trekking in
After dinner, we went to our room which was quaint but, as you can see from the picture of Cindy wearing her down jacket, a bit chilly.
We woke up early and had an Indian breakfast in the lodge building. Cindy was feeling better, but when the hot water went out she was a bit distraught (although stoically kept it to herself, softly crying for a Hilton). It was raining pretty hard out and Karma, who showed up for breakfast with us, said we might consider waiting a bit for our village hike with Thupten. We think this hike will be more for Thupten to check out how lame we are than to see any ethnic lifestyle stuff. We will see. We sat around the restaurant drinking coffee (instant which is just about all you can get in
We wandered around the pretty property looking at the spectacular views and eventually, the rain broke and Karma suggested that he walk us down the hill to the Guest House where Thupten was checking out the trekking provisions and equipment. First he armed us with "anti-leach" sticks which are bamboo sticks with a bag of salt on the end. Cindy was decidedly less than thrilled to hear about leeches and instantly tucked her pants into her socks, a less than fashionable look. We walked down the steep rock road to the guest house and met Thupten and a young kid, Lapa, who was to be our cook on the trek. Karma took off and Thupten another local guy and Cindy and I headed off down the path to visit a local monastery.
The hike down through the forest was a bit slippery but pretty and the little monastery was cute with a bunch of little school boys who were instantly more interested in us than in their lessons. They were learning how to read and write the complicated looking alphabet you see in the picture and each little boy would walk up to the board and point at each symbol and recite the name, then the other kids would all mimic him. Very cute.
Thupten started warming up a bit, explaining various stuff about the local plants, protecting against leeches (which of course immediately started chowing on my ankle) etc. The funny red flowers with yellow hairy things on them are actually cardamom pods, the local cash crop. After the monastery, we wound our way back up the hill towards the village where we picked up three little kids who decided to follow us. The boy in the blue and white striped shirt was busy entertaining himself by kicking a rock up and then down the steep street, gleefully running up and down the same hill that had us huffing and puffing. Being old sucks…
We got back to Mt. Narsing to a complete lack of electricity - seems the storm knocked it out. We crawled under the heavy woolen blankets to wait it out and listened to audio books for a bit. After a bit, there was a knock on the door and more of Karma’s hospitality arrived in the form of tea and really tasty Pakoras which are sort of an Indian fritter thing, these ones with chick peas and chilies. Very yummy. We decided to hang out on the patio with really nice views of the surrounding countryside, the local monasteries and the distant mountains. Three more little local kids who lived a few hundred yards down the hill and were collecting plants to feed their cattle showed up and we took some pictures of them. I particularly like the shot of the little girl in the yellow with the basket on her back. They were really cute and happy to get the pen and postcard of
Karma arranged a Sikkimese meal for us that night, again insisting on paying for it (Sikkimese hospitality is supposed to be legendary and Karma is living up to that!). He also had Chang or Thomba in Nepali prepared for us which is a fermented Millet drink served in the wooden container you see in front of Cindy. The Chang is sucked through a bamboo straw and when it is finished, more hot water is poured over the grains to steep for a bit before sucking it down. In the middle of the restaurant is an open fire pit that we sat around with Karma and Thupten drinking and talking until it was time for bed. Tomorrow, we head off to Yuksom to spend the night before the trek. We are looking forward to it but a bit anxious about the degree of difficulty and how well my knees will hold out. Hope the Bhutanese/Tibetan Deer shit pills work!!!