Changu, China & Yak Rides

 Talofa!  (That’s hello in Sikkim language aka sikkimise..Yes I coined it.  Contrary to the awesome scenic ride from Siliguri to Darjeeling, the one from Siliguri to Gangtok was a dampener. The sun was blazing and I was actually sweating in the car dampening my T-shirt!  Reached Gangtok in about 4 hours and reached the main market road- M.G Road. This is the best, cleanest and well maintained street that I have ever seen. . It was such a relief to see such a clean street, compared to Calcutta where one can witness people having their shower (with soap mind you), cooking food and other unmentionables  Picture this, there are no vehicles allowed, not even cycles, only walking.  The entire road is tiled, and there are benches placed on the road to encourage people who I guess too tired from walking to have a seat and enjoy the scenery. And yes , trust me, this is one place where it actually pays to be on the bench J (no offence/reference  to my IT colleagues who are in a similar situation), just for the eye candy that passes by and this is not even tourist season yet 😛     

 

 

If I thought learning Bengali was difficult, then sikkimise was  something that just did not even register..But surprisingly, they do speak Hindi when I make the attempt. That is the 3rd priority in the language list after Sikkim & English. So, some saving grace although I must admit their English accent is quite stylish which made me subconsciously try to drop my thick south Indian accent and pass off as a francais dude..Did not work apparently. So much for my 98% in Verbal Ability. After the market, spotted a cable car ride  and got into one. The counter sign mentioned that in case of death (adult 18+), I would be compensated a hefty sum of Rs 1 lac. I suddenly had great respect for my official insurance agent Royal Sundaram who promises me much more than that , plus I got a cool health card with my mug on it. Anyways,It lasts for about 20  minutes and you can see entire Gangtok. During the ½ km ride , the cable car suddenly stopped for a minute, the longest of my life. So there I am hanging in mid air about 500 feet from the ground.I look at the operator panic awash my face, he seems to be more interested in knowing which finger nail in his left hand he hasn’t chewed off with conviction. And then, incredibly, without even looking up,  he lazily points at a sign board in the cable  tucked away (‘The cable car will stop midway for a minute for your pleasure to take pics and have the scare of your life- just a small joke from Lil old Sikkim Govt. You  . Funny, my funny bone wasn’t tickled so much. As my heart rate changed from a humming bird to a normal human being, we were done with the ride and I was glad to get out in one piece. I gave the operator an ugly glare before I left though. Same for the other passengers including a married couple and their 3 year old kid who was probably the bravest amongst us. Ignorance is bliss huh?

 

 The next day morning left at the crack of dawn to beat the fog. Our 1st stop was  Baba Mandir, built in honour of a soldier who died and still is said to protect those who go into battle now. Opposite to that was the world’s highest ATM point – courtesy Union Bank of India at 13,000 feet. I did a transaction there just for kicks and it actually works! Not some goddamn PR gimmick and much better than the SBI located @hinejwadi that would never work when u need money most (like paying the laundry guy @ scmhrd..he is more dangerous than a bank agent whose loan’s due). 

 

 The entire Mandir is surrounded by huge valleys which I planned to climb as one of them separates India from China. I asked the BSF guy there if I was allowed to go for my saunter up the valley but he told me that there are jungle dogs there that are well, very junglee. And, oh btw, it is littered with land mines to keep away illegal immigrants and there are good chances of you getting blown up. I could sense the nonchalance in his voice when he mentioned the landmine issue so I guessed more people died of the jungle dog rather than mining. Although I do not suffer from the remotest cynophobia, I did not really want to push my luck. I guess I’d wait till nathulla to see China!

 So, headed off to Nathulla Pass (connects India to China) and there was just a barbed wire separating two countries! Stereotypically, on the Indian side there is a guard with a mustache that would make Verappan roll over in his grave. There is a Chinese guard too and everyone was queuing to get their photo taken with him, like he was some kinda rockstar! He couldn’t have had a more plastic smile on his face wondering what he done to stand all day and smile into cameras whilst shaking some strangers hand after going through elite counter insurgency military school. I guess he was the biggest loser there or something . After coming 14,000 feet and still not going to China , I would never live it down. So, I did stick my foot across the border to finally say I’ve visited a foreign country 😛 I know there are a lot of skeptics that this foot could be a pic taken in my backyard, just like the moon landing blah blah..So I got a certificate done just in case.

 

 

 Next stop was Changu Lake, also called lakeTsongmo, a sacred lake and a very famous tourist spot. I was two months early, so missed on the frozen sheet of ice that covers the lake. Apparently, people can actually skate and even play shuttle on the frozen sheet of ice. There is actually a sign warning people not to walk on ice as the horizontally challenged ones are now sleeping with the fishes. Amen. The lake has to be seen to be believed, it’s really a sight surrounded by green mountains all over dotted with brightly coloured flowers. It is actually dead silent and you can hear a flower bloom! There is a yak tourist point and I went for a ride on of them across the lake and was glad that it did not go off like a rodeo!  

I consider myself the laziest person in the world, but after seeing such places, travelling has become 2nd nature for me..Sikkim especially is  a place that has to be visited during winter! Anyone interested, do let me know,  I’m learning how to make a snow man on the internet now for December 😛

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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12 Responses to “Changu, China & Yak Rides”

  1. Raghav,
    As always excellent!!!Man are you good!!!U shd come out with a travelogue or something.

  2. J.E.A.L.O.U.S.

    I so wanna go to Sikkim. Mom and dad just wont take me along even if they happen to go there :X
    I can kill for Sikkim. I can see that you had an amazing trip 🙂

    You are lucky 😛 and I am gonna be lucky soon 😛

    Cheers!

  3. what is this?
    is it a self appraisal blog?
    mentioning ur VA percentile & SCMHRD…who will disclose the DI marks??
    anyways …good trip to sikkim…just visit yum thang…its the valley of flowers…nice 2 day trip

  4. this happens..Everytime i read your blog.. its hilarious …and makes me insanely jealous.. man i need a camera and need to start writing .,,:P
    so how is the phone.. i am also thinking of picking up the same phone .. is the music output good….
    ???

  5. Dude…im waiting for my turn…
    then we will compare the blog comments 🙂

    btw…same observation…sirf Verbal score mat daal…

  6. As usual ur posts on travel escapades makes me extremely envious of the fact that i couldnt join u in the adventerous journey. Hope u did love Changu lake even though it was 2 months before it gets peak season, when u find the lake almost frozen. I remember myself also doin the same thing as u did at nathula – putting my feet across the barbed wire and proclaiming to have been to China. :).
    Keep up the good work ‘pardner’. Some years down the line u could come up with ur very own travelogue.

  7. tsanpo lake | china border | jalpaiguri | darjeeling | sikkimese ppl | on top of the mountains trying the darjeeling tea | and going to those dhaba’s and eating maggi noodles for Rs 25 = Is nostalgic to me after 8 years see someone going on a same place – have fun my college mate, Tesh

  8. naaayeeceeeee !!! I think even your Boss will agree with me [:P] !!

  9. That is soo cool. I normally don’t like to read travelogues but I read the whole thing. Sikkim seems amazing.. soo very jealous of you. =]

  10. i’ve tagged you:)…chck my blog…

  11. Kunal Makwana Says:

    As usual… you are a creature to be looked out for…!!! you blog just changed my attitude from a sad person to a jolly one..!!

    kudos to u my friend..!! 🙂

  12. […] – bookmarked by 6 members originally found by nalobi on 2008-11-06 Changu, China & Yak Rides https://thetemplartalks.wordpress.com/?p=137 – bookmarked by 6 members originally found by dihakz […]

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