Sikkim Revisited

The last time I went to Sikkim, in 2007, I fell in love with the place. I fell in love with Gangtok, the Tsomgo (Changu) lake, Nathula pass; places in North Sikkim - Lachen, Lachung, Gurudongmar lake, Yumthung; Pelling in West Sikkim; the people, the food, everything. This time, I revisited the capital of Sikkim - Gangtok, and then visited a totally obscure, non-touristy place near Sombarey in West Sikkim. I went with my Mama, who had some work there, and for me it was a both a complete leisure trip, plus, an eye opener on the practical problems that people staying there face.


For the first two days, we were in Gangtok. To be honest, the last time I went there, I didn't explore the city fully. This time, I went to the "tourist spots" alone and on foot - I think that's the best way to explore a small city like Gangtok. The most noticable change that I saw in Gangtok in the last two years is the beautification process. M. G. Marg - the mall / shopping area has been given a complete make-over with cars banned, flower beds and fountains installed, and plenty of new shops / eating joints. I was told that this beautification is being implemented in all towns of Sikkim (I did see some of it in Jorethang). Plus, there is no plastic packets anywhere in the town, and the footpaths are well marked and with barricades - so that people don't walk ON the streets.
For the next few days, I was in a place called Anden Forest Rest House, near a town (village really) called Sombarey in West Sikkim (alt - around 5000 ft). I was really surprised by the Rest House, as it is nothing like a "Forest Rest House". It is more like a luxury hotel! And neither is it in a forest, although the region around it has a lot of thick vegetation. The place is well known for birds, but I must admit, I could hear a lot of bird chirps, but couldn't see them much. Around two kilometers away was a watch tower, which I visited one morning. How I made that seemingly easy walk difficult for myself is another story :)
Anyway, I did meet a lot of bright young people from the nearby villages who came to attend a workshop, and as I said earlier, it was an eye opener for me talking to them about the practical problems they face. To begin with, two of them walked about 20 kms from Ribdi to attend the program just because the lone bus service was canceled that day. Things that we take for granted in our big cities, like high speed internet, photocopy or a photo print, are unavailable / prohibitively expensive! Even things like stationery are not readily available. On the other hand, some progress has been made there too - mobile network is everywhere, satellite TV is there even in the "forest" rest house, the roads are much better than what they used to be (despite the landslide hazards), and people have work thanks to the rural employment scheme.
I really enjoyed the cold weather there, and the soft sunshine. And yes, the flowers - I knew I was forgetting something! How can I not mention the flowers. Everywhere you go, you see flowers - known, unknown, bright, pale - the entire state seems to be in bloom!
In conclusion, I confirm: I AM in love with Sikkim.

13 comments:

I am said...

:) Nice

The forest rest house indeed looked like a luxory hotel :).

What amazes me the most in such rural areas is the humbleness of people and how they never take life for granted :)

Kanchan said...

Lovely pics. You seem to have had a good time. Now you have to write about how you managed to make a simple walk difficult :)

~ ॐ ~ said...

This post has left me longing for me...

What you have written is making me want to read more... the pictures are making me want to see more !!!

Now either you upload more photos !!! and write another post with a lot more details

or you write another post with more photos and more details...

Please please !!!

I loved the photographs here !!! and the hardships... its always nice to get a feel of these things first hand... I was amazed when I went to Chattisgarh for an ASK project and got the first hand experience.

B. O'Hemian said...

@Tanu
They never take life for granted, because they can't afford to.

And that forest rest house was fully loaded. Maybe because it has been leased by a co-op.

@Kanchan
Thanks... they are from a new camera I bought recently. I will write about it soon.

@Om
Some more text coming up soon. Some pics uploaded in Picasaweb. Will mail you the link. BTW, the pics are from the new Lumix I bought.

Anuradha said...

wow new camera. thats good news :)

and nothing like a trip to the mountains , good to see you had a great time!

Aarbee said...

Bhai naye camera ki nayi tasveeron ki shubhkamnayein! Really pretty pictures. :)

And such expression of love from you! Can only imagine how amazing the place would be.

B. O'Hemian said...

@Anu
Thanks. Nothing like a good trip to the mountains :) When is your next?

@RB
Thanku thanku... believe me, it's amazing.

deeps said...

nice pics....waiting for more.........as for hardships,have been seeing it right from kid days at our village.......and its no different from what you described even if it is in plains

Reeta Skeeter said...

naya camera bahut bahut mubarak :)
and agree with Om here...would like to see and read more...

so on special request start writing your next post :)

B. O'Hemian said...

@Deeps
True... but the geographical challenges are greater in the hills, if I have to make a comparison.

@Skeets
Thank you. See, you requested - I posted :)

Butterfly said...

Great post...I always like to read travelogues.:-)
It seems that Gangtok people have a good sense of cleanliness. There are flower beds even around a shopping mall...

Rohit Talwar said...

Chalo, aapko quiet honeymoon type place mil hi gayi. Mubarak ho. Pictures are loverly, like I'd told you. My favourite part of this post is when you describe the plastic-less roads. Impressive. I wish things don't change there at least.

B. O'Hemian said...

@Butterfly
Thanks. Yeah, they do have good civic sense.

@RT
Err... honeymoon types!?!
Yeah, hope good things don't change there.