Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Nathu La Pass

Nathu La Pass at 14000 feet is breathtaking in its beauty and the altitude.

Watching the Indian soldiers make banter with the Chinese generals is kind of cute and unreal… I’ve never seen a Chinese soldier on duty … at the Chinese border… its kind of serious… friendly but not friends. You can shake hands with them. But do not overstep any area which is fenced by the military - its sensitive - and you’ll quickly have a soldier asking you to come back.

You feel so proud seeing our soldiers at that altitude - maintaining the place for us ‘tourists’ to come and make a nuisance of ourselves - asking stupid questions, clicking snaps and doing things which make no sense. I felt like saluting the Indian soldiers out there and when they weren’t looking, I did!

Oh, we had a military escort which drove with 3-4 tourist jeeps including ours.. we felt quite important….

Tsomgo Lake - which is on the way to Nathu La pass - had pet yaks all over - the lake is a letdown.. beautiful but small.. many small shops… we stopped at this small shop which rents out snow shoes …. Really hungry after Nathu La - asked for a quick rustling up of momos… then some chowmein and then some more momos and then some more chowmein and then more chowmein and then some fried rice and then some more… needless to say we skipped lunch that day.. You can see the relieved look on the girls face as we left.

At Gangtok we stayed at Mintokling Guest house ..a really nice place.. full of flowers - spent the evening walking on MG road. The main market and the life of the town.. as hep as Bombay …

We had a rather unforgettable night at the Glenarys pub on our way back from North Sikkim - where our kids joined us and gave us disapproving looks as a rather mellow looking set of parents (us) swayed and clapped to CCR, Eagles and Jethro Tull being played live by a local band. Dipendra Rawat from Darjeeling was there that evening and we heard him take control of the mike and guitar and belt out some cool stuff … apparently he is a great singer and performs, apart from running his travel firm in Darjeeling. My kids stone sober and we indulged ourselves.

If you’re looking for an intenet café on MG road (theres lots of them on Tibet Road closeby) - go to Somanys.

Met this lady at a souveneir shop - found a lovely new expensive hardcover book - written by Mita Zutshi and one more person- The Sacred Summit - Kanchenjunga. The lady was her sister - she said a paperback would be outside sometime soon. I also picked up a new magazine called “Exotic Places” or something like that - which again was sponsored by Sikkimise Dept of Information & Public Relations. Apparently publishing in Gangtok is not as small as you might think - some rather evolved folks write and publish and seem to be doing a great job of it.

We also stayed at Hidden Forest Stay - started by this gentleman who loves flowers - orchids and …. What are they called… his daughters run the place. Their pup Othello was a playful who found it funny to see the kids running away scared when he barked. Unbelievable place.

Then we moved onto North Sikkim.

One of the Police Checkposts along the way North of Gangtok
One of the Police Checkposts along the way North of Gangtok