A Travellerspoint blog

Shangri La

Have arrived Himalayas...STOP...
Quite Cold...STOP...
Raining lots...STOP...
Wish it would stop...STOP...


Only for me then, Ok as you might imiagine I am in embroiled in a himalayan adventure.. we currently reside in the forbidden state of Sikkim, its rained some and also its snowed some. Maximum altitude achieved to date 3780m.

Right right, a back story..ok..so...
We left Calcutta on.. i dont know it was a while back... we took an overnight train a la pleb class to a funny little place by the name of New Jailpaguiri or something, you will be pleased to know that this hardened colonial did not sleep a wink thanks in main to a huuuuge thunder and lightnening storm that started about 2am and continued for a few hours. The windows in pleb class are not so much windows as holes in the train so as you can imagine i got wet! Sandall the rascall had bagsied the top bunk which didnt have windows and subsequently slept like a proverbial log. I also had the unpleasant spectacle of the insect life of India's rolling stock to contend with represented in the main by a rather large cockroach beast who inspite of my best efforts remained alive for the entire night! Anyway train arrived early.. yes it took me some minutes too recover also, the idea of a train arriving early is unbelievable espeacially when you have had the priveledge to grow up in a country where the trains will actually stop outside a station to avoid being early. Hmmm anyway I was awake anyway having spent the night doing front crawl up and down the carridge, Sandall however was very much asleep and when I informed her of our impending arrival, her response was along the lines of 'piss off the train doesnt get in for 2 hours' and then she rolled over. Suffice to say I dragged her from the top bunk and dragged her off the train (if only, in my emasculated state the best I could do was implore her to get up, which she did eventually when the passengers for the return journey started to board the train!).

Right so we then went on a mission to find transport to Darjeeling.. the finest relic of the Raj and truly my very own colonial Shangri la. So pipe in mouth and woman in tow we located a share jeep (the only way to travel in timely fashion around the mountains) and set off for the hills! Our driver was of course a lunatic, we rounded alpine bends at rediculous speed narrowly missing tibetan refugees at every turn. His delusions peaked when he took us on the longest and most perilous short cut I have ever been on.. the man decide that the road was a little on the boring side and, I kid you not, proceded to drive through a village (no road, I mean a village) and then straight up the side of the mountain! We made it and I can tell you within all honesty my bowel movements have been ever so slightly on the loose side since then). Eventually we arrived in Darjeeling which of course was lovely. It was of course settled by the British!

Anyway we arrived and found places to sleep etc etc. We then proceeded on an enthusiastic sight seeing trip of the town.. abit tricky when the entire place is enveloped by a cloud, but then again Britian didnt become great because clouds stopped play, so onwards we went! There's a surprising amount to see in the Darj considering it hangs off the edge of a mountain, highlights of our trip would ahve to include oour little visit to mad lady of the Happy Valley Tea Plantation. Listed as a working tea factory where one could take a guided tour, we surprised to be greated by the female fruitloop and her hoards one of whom was despatched to guide us around a field of tea. Now let me tell you as an avid tea drinker, there are few things I find as thrilling as a nice cup of Darjeeling's finest and a good chat about the ins and outs of contempory tea manufacture upon the Indian sub continent. However our man proceeded to wander around the tea fields and point at the factory and repeat the word 'broken' and then at the tea and pointing at different parts of the leaf would repeat '1,2,3'.. now I'm a slow learner but after the 25th time we decided it was best to take him back to his owner and proceed on our way. The first part we accomplished, the second part however leads to a tale fo blackmarket dealings and the femal fruitloop. On depositing the tea guide back where we found him, we were promptly hijacked by a mad lady who claimed she could make 5 second tea. Now being tea coniseurs we eagerly accepted this offer to witness extreme tea making at altitude. The tea lady on finding out we were English launched into a pro English speach, claiming that the French and Germans were too odd and hard to understand! The of course just as I was giving the Churchill two fingured salute in salutation of her audatious speach.. who should walk in but 2 Frenchies and 1 German, where upon the fruitloop gave them the cold eye and started making tea.. I tell you what we trained em well! The tea was good and we bought some from her learning that what we were buying was actually a part opf a batch for twinnings and as such she was prepared to offer us rock bottom prices.. hmm yes! The best part was when she refused to be photographed by the French for fear of being exposed as a black market tea dealer! Anyway.. yes.. ahh tea!

Ok so Darj was fun but we felt we must do more.. we had a choice either Rajastan in summer i.e. 50 degree heat or perhaps Sikkim at a slightly more anglified 15 degrees.. so as you mgiht of guess we followed the familiar and headed north to rain and overcast skies! We arrived here in gantok the capital of Sikkim yesterday. Gangtok mirrors Darjeeling without any of its charm, the hotel we booked into left much to be desired, noisy smelly and expensive.. anyway Sandall went to war and got us a better room ce matin so alls well that ends well!

I am pleased to see that Tottenham held Arsenal to a 1-1 draw (thats the Tottenham I know and love.. why win when you can draw!), Henry was magnificent but it just goes to show French genius will never beat the British alone! Anyway I digress Liverpool did well also, good game although I'm not sure Sandall appreciated me watching that late into the night! Ah well priorities!

Anyway,so today we organised a trip up to this place called Tsomgo lake up near the Chinese boarder of Sikkim, its quite high at 3780m and today it was all covered in snow! Amazin.. our guide up there who was called Borbino or soemthing, had a slight speach impediment and a minor issue with the English language in general.. for most of the trip he would inform us with enthusiasm that we had passed 'army.. army' whenever we sighted a rediculously camoflaged hut or as in most cases full on camp! When I say camp I mean camp, considering the place is a mountain they choose to decorate their buildings in a lovely hue of yellows,pinks, oranges and (thank god) green. They were without doubt the most obvious and the gayest army camps I have ever laid eyes on. Perhaps its a cunning strategy of distracting the Chinese army should they decide they need even more room that they have now! Anyway we arrived finally at the lake (I did at one point have to get out and push along with the guide to get the rediculous contraption up the hill), we were riding in a small van thing the like of which is driven by thieves and crap plumbers in Britain.. I think they're called Nissan Midgets.. absolute rubbish! So we got there are there was two feet of snow on the ground! What fun.. but wait it gets better.. on our arrival we were ushered by our guide straight onto some Yaks.. yes hairy cows which then proceeded to take us round the lake. You can sort of see how Britain was bale to conquer this part of the world way back when.. riding a Yak to war would have been a fairly fruitless exercise.. you'd have been late for a start! Anyway it was an amusing jaunt being led round the lake on a yak, at our destination we deyaked and threw some snowballs at each other and then were pelted by the yak herders! They then ushered us back on the yaks and took us back to our van, whereupon the guide took us to shop, they sell only rubbish in places like that so it was with some amusement that I watched Sandall pruchase a tacky windchime jobby...I wanted to get a giant pencil but something stopped me... it still bothers me that some part of me is beyond a giant pencil, even more so that that part of me is powerful enough to overide the rest of me... I wish i'd bought that giant pencil..

hmmmm right.. ok so thats about it.. i've been feleing a bit grim recently but nothing too bad.. we're on our way to a place called Pelling tomorrow for a few days and then we're heading back to the Darj for another day before hitting Varanasi and The Taj Mahal..talk about extremes of tempretures! My camera is going to meet me in Malaysia which is good thanks to some serious netowrking through Ali and his mates.. legends one and all! And that good people is that!


Posted by andyabroad 07:43

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Splendid stuff Mulls! Can't believe you had any difficulty pulling 'Sandall' out of her bunk. Keep that upper lip stiff, and whatever you're smoking in that pipe seems to be stimulating your literary ramblings - just don't try and take it across any borders. Keep up the good work, but try and dwell less on the bowel movements.

Disgusted of TW

by msandall

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