01
Mar
12

Sikkim part1


I took an overnight bus from Pokhara to the border, quite a routine affair, practice Buddhist patience squeezed in a seat designed for Asian shortness and not for legs like mine (actually I am not that tall but in comparison to the locals I am). Arrived in Karkabhitta early in the morning surprisingly fast, despite the puncture we had along the way (safety first, one tire had a whole as big as a human fist in it and they changed it wisely). Quickly made it to the border post for check out of Nepal. The Immigration officer was obviously very unhappy about my overstay and demand very rudely an excuse, I told him some alibis (punctures, strike, unreliable public transport blablabla) which satisfied him or he was simply to lazy to do all the paperwork which is necessary for cases like that, even he didn´t fine me for that (which I was expecting and also prepared for, as it is an offense against the law without question). Lucky bastard I am. Nearly missed the well hidden Indian immigration, which was a very quick affair done by the most friendly Indian official I have ever met. Later followed the only road leading away from the border and into the state of Westbengal. I wasn´t exactly sure what to do, going direct to Darjeeling or have a rest day to recover from the bus trip. Decision was made after I missed the turnoff to Mirik, along a minor road up to Darjeeling. So I ended up in Siliguri, a typical dusty, crowded, chaotic town in India. Got a room for a good rate and enjoyed Hollywood propaganda on HBO (watched some movies in a row, some CIA commercial, another about genderism and one about the importance about having a mobile phone which can track you down wherever you are) . The night was ok but got fast remembered that India is a country of inconsideration while other guests made noise like a wildgone school class on vacation. Wanted to leave the plains as fast a possible but decided to go to Sikkim first instead of Darjeeling just to avoid that I´ll get stuck there as it happened many times to me, wasting time in a convenient place. So I ended up on the Highway for the first part of the day and reached the first mountains soon. It was a steady up and down and the Teesta bridge was reached fast, actually I wanted to stay here the night but it was still early and I went further to Rangpo, the gateway into the small Himalayan state Sikkim. In Rangpo itself the first thing to do was to get an Inner Line Permit (ILP), Sikkim is a sensitive area caused to the closeness to chinese occupied Tibet. To get the ILP it’s rather a routine thing and issued very quickly and actually wanted to check for a hotel there. Somehow I found myself out-of-town and to Singtam the next town was only 10km away so I went on. Suddenly strong wind appeared and big branches of trees fallen down next to me gave me a kick to pedal much faster to get out of danger, before the heavy rain began I was in Singtam bazaar road confronted to find a place for the night. Why all bars and restaurants call themselves hotels is a big myth to me and it was not so easy to find a real hotel suited for accommodation. A conversation I had while looking for a room:

Me: Hello, do you have a room?

Girl: no we don´t have rooms at all.

Me: Ok, but you have a sign that says here is a hotel.

Girl: Oh, yes we are a restaurant.

Still didn’t get it…

Finally got one in a real hotel, a nice one and HBO was already there…

My hopes from the afternoon became true as rain in the mountains mostly cleans the hazy sky and a blue one greeted me in the morning. The view was nice and lifted my mood a little bit, as the first feeling of Sikkim was not a pleasant one for me. Also it was time to gain some altitude. The road went high and higher following countless of hairpins and the views down the valley were nice if one can ignore all that constructions which are going on there: Waterpowerplants and distilleries for the nation seems to be the parole here. In the distance my planned destination could be seen already but it was still a long and sweaty day, all uphill while the road winds into every hidden corner of the mountain range. Two boys accompanied me on their way home from school for some 5km or so and they had not big trouble to walk next to me the whole time and after all it was a funny conversation as they didn´t ask the tons of same questions which every Indian has in store whenever meeting a foreigner and they also kept the barking dogs at distance. The climb went long and longer and I  drown myself in endless litres of any kind of soft drinks in so-called fair price shops. The last 10k´s was such a mess and I was more than happy to reach Ravangla (aka Rabongla) in the afternoon. This day was an ascent of more than 1800m in less than 40km, if this will be every day maybe suicide will be a better way to life. Ravangla is a small town which not much to do, I searched a telephone shop got sent from one shop to another and ended in an Internetplace where I sent some mails instead of doing phone calls. No telephone but internet, strange, but what to do.

to be continued…


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