Thursday, September 23, 2010

Gangtok: Weavers, tea, tea, statue & dinner.

The last destination on our tour agenda of Gangtok - was a visit to the so-called *cottage industries*. Of course, the driver knew exactly where to drop us off. We followed his directions and found ourselves standing in front of some buildings. Signs above the doors indicated what was inside. First stop was the store. I should have taken a clue from the items that were being sold. (nothing impressive as far as I was concerned) as to what types of *industries* i.e., handicrafts we would see.



There were really no clearly marked directions on where to go so we just wandered. The first room we happened upon was the weaving room. We headed inside and there we found some women weaving cloth. Unlike the weavers in Darjeeling who were weaving with wool, these women were weaving with fine thread - takes more time and effort to weave a single piece of cloth.




Tucked in the back of the room, we came across a woman who had a very interesting spinning contraption - jury rigged from bicycle parts.  It was very odd looking but obviously functional or they wouldn't bother having it around!

We did more wandering to try and find some of the other *industries* but for some odd reason, we never found anything. By now, it had also started to rain so darting between buildings in search of something to look at became very difficult. Collectively, we decided to call it a day.

We ran back to the car and the driver took us back to the hotel. Our driver had been so kind to us the entire time that he was with us that Mike decided to throw in an extra 100 rupees.

By now, it was mid-afternoon and we decided that we needed a light snack to tie us over until dinner time. Really, it was just an excuse to get out - no point sitting in a hotel room for 3+ hours. It was gently raining but that did not deter any of us from venturing out so we agreed to meet back in the lobby in 10 minutes.

We decided to head back down to the pedestrian only shopping area that we had been to the night before. Mike and I led the way and without getting lost, we soon arrived onto Mahatma Gandhi Marg. We pointed out, to Merle, the restaurant that we had had our dinner at the night before. Today, however, we were in search of a place to have coffee/tea and a snack. We soon found a cafe that fit the bill. It was a nice break.


Back down on to the shopping area for a stroll. A chalkboard in one of the stores caught my eye and soon Mike was chatting up with the owner. In the meantime, Merle had wandered off on her own. Before we knew it, we had lost her. I told Mike we had to find her because I didn't think that Merle would know how to get back to the hotel on her own. We scanned the crowds but didn't see her. I told Mike there was no way we could miss a tiny blond haired women.....though she did have on a black rain jacket as did a lot of other people walking about the place.

Luckily, Merle saw us and I stopped panicking. We continued on our walk and we spotted a 2nd place that we thought would be a good place for a caffeine break. Little did I think that we would actually take a 2nd caffeine break but we did.

When we got to a table, lo and behold, we found Megan, Rhonda and Ross already seated and enjoying themselves. We settled into a table and ordered our second round of drinks and a 2nd snack for Mike. Not long after we arrived, Liz and Mike came. They sat at the table with the other three while we shared our table with a young Sikkimese man whom we had a lovely chat with about life and work in Sikkim.

After we finished our teas and coffee, we decided it was time to head back to the hotel and so we backtracked our steps. Somehow though, we ended up on a different pedestrian flyover and stumbled on a small city park with a trio of interesting statue. A nearby plaque labelled the statue as the "Unity Statue" and there was an explanation, in English, as what the statue represented.  Unfortunately, I think the explanation was lost in translation because even though I read it several times, I couldn't understand a word of what it was saying :-(  Oh well.

Back at the hotel, I had a few minutes to rest before heading down to the hotel restaurant for Sikkimese dinner that Sanjeev had arranged for us. I have to say that after days of eating Indian curries, samosas, parathas, momos and other Tibetan foods, it was a refreshing change to eat something different. Definitely more Asian than Indian inspired, it was nice to finally get some real vegetables (i.e, not just carrots, cabbage and onions)! I finally got to taste the ferns and they were delicious!!

After dinner, I headed up to my room and called it a day and what a day it had been. At dinner, Rhonda, Mike and I decided that, blue skies permitting, we would get up bright and early next morning to see if we could catch views of the Himalayas and more specifically, of Mt. Kanchenjunga which we found out was not any one of the mountains that I had seen from my hotel window this morning. Maybe luck will be on our side and we'll have clear skies. Praying as I fall asleep :-)