Friday, September 24, 2010

Kalimpong!


Our journey today took us from Gangtok to Kalimpong. Our trusty drivers and their cars were already waiting for us as we finished up breakfast this morning.  Rhonda, Mike and I only had a few minutes to gulp down our breakfast as we had just returned from our early morning trip to Tashi View Point to catch a sunrise view of Mt. Kanchenjunga. After breakfast, I quickly headed up to my room and brought my luggage down.


Into the cars we went and down the hills of Gangtok we went.


We were heading back towards the NH31A roadway. It was another beautiful day for a drive in the highlands of India.






Eventually, we found ourselves back in Rangpo where Sanjeev had to get our Sikkim exit stamps for our passports. Again, we had a few minutes to kill while we waited for Sanjeev. It was a good time to go and buy a few more samosas for the road.  Served on plates made of leaves, even Marc couldn't resist these tasty and awfully cheap (5 rupees or about 12 cents each) snacks.  For the equivalent of about 25 cents, I had bought two samosas and a small bottled water.




We encountered a bit of a traffic jam on the way out of Rangpo. It was a good opportunity to finally take some photos of the very colorful and often garishly decorated Indian trucks or as they call them here *Goods Carrier*. Though the trucks are owned by companies, I get the sense that the drivers are allowed to personalize them as much as they want because I don't recall ever seeing two trucks that looked exactly like each other.




The drive to Kalimpong was pretty uneventful. We were headed out of Sikkim and back into West Bengal so the roads were much more bumpy and villages more dilapidated looking. West Bengal is definitely the poorer cousin to Sikkim.






We took several breaks along the way so we could stretch our legs and for those who needed it, a chance to relieve their bladder.

We arrived into Kalimpong around late morning and the drive through town to get to our hotel was the usual Indian chaos. Way, way, way too many people and vehicles than can reasonably share the same stretch of street.


And, it was back to the honking of car horns. They use their horns in Sikkim as well but because the vehicular traffic is so well behaved there, there's not quite as much horn noise here. Oh.....the horns are back!!

As we pulled into the driveway of the hotel, we were all pleasantly surprised by what greeted us. A very British colonial style building situated in the heart of a well tended to garden and manicured lawn. Sanjeev had told us that the hotel was owned by some British folks but none of us had any idea of the charm of the place.

There was an upper and a lower veranda. After getting settled into our rooms, we all met in the upper veranda for a light lunch. I just ordered a small pot of tea and munched on the samosas that I had bought in Rangpo. It was a nice break and this place is a nice sanctuary from the chaos of the town that lies just outside the driveway gates :-)








We had quite an activity filled day ahead of us so the moment we finished downing our food, we were off to see the sights of Kalimpong!