The ride from Darjeeling to Gangtok was a pretty easy, unexceptional ride. We passed by the Sikkim Distillery but unfortunately they weren’t giving tours since it was a Sunday. Once we got to Gangtok, our first order of business was to find a place to stay (our least favorite thing to do)! Everything was a little on the pricey side but we eventually found a good place close to Paljour Stadium. Once we settled in we decided to head towards the main street that did not allow motor vehicles of any kind. Man, was it a hike up that hill! But on the way we stopped at the stadium. To Nick, this was heaven. The stadium had great artificial turf, was beautifully maintained and had about 100 kids playing soccer at one time. Sikkim has produced a great soccer player in Bhaichung Bhutia, so soccer has definitely become a big thing in Gangtok. They have their own team which plays at the stadium called United Sikkim. After Nick took in the stadium and remembered his old days playing for various clubs on crappy turf, we headed back up again.
Issue #2 — we were desperate for internet! Eventually after being passed around from one electronic store to the other, we found someone to recharge our Reliance internet dongle. We would find the whole internet on the laptop and phone to be a problem throughout the northeast.
After some good gobi manchurian, we headed back up to the room to tackle issue #3…laundry. Doing laundry is not a problem, getting the damn underwear to dry is. Especially during the winter. After 2 days, nothing dried…we tried everything, including using the mini hair dryer! But eventually we were just left with wet underwear that had lost it’s Tide-fresh smell!
While our underwear was (not) drying, we went sight-seeing. The views were a bit better in Gangtok. We visited the Flower Show (beautiful orchids, more exciting for me than Nick), the ropeway (eh), and some of the waterfalls. The Banjhankari waterfalls is enclosed in a park with beautiful Tibetan type gazebos and sculptures of local tribes carrying out certain rituals…some of the scenes that they chose were downright scary. If I took my kid, they’d be freaked out. I didn’t want to get close to some of those life-size shaman sculptures. We also went to the Rumtek Monastery which is a little outside of the city, it’s a good peaceful drive as well.
After a couple of days we decided we’ll try our luck at the India-Bhutan border. From what we knew, it was tough to get a visa and costs about $250/person (non Indian passport holders) to visit. We got to Jaigaon and tried to talk to the Bhutanese border control, but it seemed like it would be days before we could get anything done and we couldn’t take the bike in. So we figured, Bhutan would have to wait for another time. We could’ve just shown Nick’s Indian drivers license and I could’ve just covered my head and we could’ve visited for a day but we thought eh what’s the use if we can’t see the beautiful parts of Bhutan. Sooo…on to the next one…Guwahati!