It all started in the early weeks of 2012.
It was long time since I had my last trip – it was Darjeeling and Mirik. I guess riding a bike is an addiction to me. I usually do not commute on my bike and day by day the urge of riding the bike in open highway increases – the urge to feel the vibration of the engine, exploring unknown roads, the skyline, and the people of different terrain.
So, finally I decided to hit the road on 1st of April’2012 and the destination would be Sikkim. I googled (thanks to the members of ‘indiamike.com’) and summed up the places rarely visited by the tourists.
Initially the plan was –
Night Stay at Kalimpong and try to get the permit for the road PEDONG-RESHI-LONGTHU-THE ZALEBI PASS – KUPUP (This stretch is also known as Old Silk Route)-TSONGMO LAKE-GANGTAK. In next few days, to visit the eastern most parts and southern parts of Sikkim and back to KOLAKTA.
On 30th, Friday I put down my resignation in the organisation where I was working for last 4 years and spent some time with the colleagues in the evening. On 31st, got my bike serviced, oil changed, tyre tube replaced, bike spares collected, medicines and first aid kit prepared, cloths packed – now I am ready to hit the road. I was so excited that was not able to sleep on 1st April night. Finally it was 2:30am in the clock, its time to roll.
DAY 1: I started early in 2nd April’2012 at 3:30am – it was all dark and I took the NH34 and headed north. Under daylight, the NH34 is bliss. It’s a single lane highway full of colour and character – in daylight; you can see the beautiful arches on the road made by lush green trees. The road is also notorious for potholes which appear suddenly in front of you giving you less time to react. It was dark, so maintained a steady speed of 60kmph all the way and there were nothing to see around, so concentrated on the road.
As the time passes, I crossed Krishnanagar, Berhampore, reached Maldah at 10:30am and took my first butt break and celebrated with tea and smoke. I started again after 10 mins and headed towards Dalkhola.
Since, the NH34 cuts through small towns of west Bengal, it’s really pathetic to ply on the road in day time. Only thing you gain is the beauty around. So, my average speed dropped by a big margin and the bad tarmac worsened it up, but I felt that I am alive again. As I was rolling down the NH34, the Sun was shining bright and reached in the middle of the horizon. I was almost 10km to reach Dalkhola, I felt sudden dizziness – It was a symptom to me which says, something is wrong with your body. Initially I thought that the dizziness was due to lack of sleep in last night. Suddenly I realised that I have neither taken nor drained water till now, except two cups of tea so I have started dehydrating. Decided to take a break and Glucose mixed water and some smoke. After spending good 20mins under the shade of tree, and 1ltr glucose water consumption, I felt good, so it’s time to roll again. Crossed the small town Dalkhola in no time and now I had to leave the single lane NH34 and take the monotonous 3 lane NH31 to Siliguri. Crossed the Islampore in no time and reached Bagdogra and after few kms between the tea gardens, reached Siliguri at 3:40pm.
Decided to take a 1hr break before I ride further and took some chocolates etc. to fill up my stomach and it’s time to fill my bike’s tank too. The Sun was glowing red, the air was cool, the children was coming to home from schools, the workers from nearby tea gardens was returning to their home and I continued my journey to reach Kalimpong. I was riding slowly at almost 40kmph on the Sevoke road to grasp the beauty to the fullest.
It was a nice stretch of road which passes in between the woods-probably the pine trees. The Sun was about to set and it’s a mystical atmosphere here. I can hear the sound of different birds and different species of insects even from the inside of my helmet. Switched off the engine, and enjoyed the mystic environment for a while by closing my eyes inside the helmet.
Sometimes the road was dusty too….
The time was running out and dark was setting in, I had to hurry to reach Kalimpong. I cranked the engine and took the road again and after an hour, I started climbing for Kalimpong under the dark. It was few kms to reach Kalimpong and I was amazed by the view of the small hill town in the dark. It looked like it’s a Dipavali.
Managed to get one cheap hotel but could not manage to get the food so had to consume the ‘Cup Noodles’ and the ‘Snikers’ – as a dessert.
In the meanwhile, I enquired for the permits to ply on the old silk route and to my disgust; the contact informed me that the permits was not possible and he quoted some reasons for that. Well, I understood, it was me to blame – did not had enough planning. I was tired, so went to the bed and lost in deep sleep in no time.
DAY 2: Woke up early in the morning, had some tea, paid the bill and set off to have look of Kalimpong. The morning of Kalimpong is not different than any of the hill towns in this region – children are geared for their schools and the locals for their daily work schedule.
Had a round of the town and decided to seat somewhere to decide where to go next. After digging up my mind for sometime, I remembered that I had read about a place called ‘Borong’, which is 18 km away from Rabong La/Ravangla in Sikkim. Opened the Google map in my phone and got the route till Rabong La. But could not find the place called Borong. So, decided to go till Rabong La and take the direction to Borong from locals. After another cup of tea, I was ready to roll again to get lost in the middle of nowhere.
Riding downhill from Kalimpong was a great fun – the road was smooth, enjoyed all the corners.
Soon, I was on the road which leads to Gangtok but I have to take a left turn much before reaching Gangtok as I have decided to enter Sikkim from south.
As I was riding through the road, I found a stream around 100ft downhill – it was the river Rangeet. After riding 10km or so I found that the river is quite near – I can hear the splashing sound of water over the bolder – what a musical tune it was! I was trying to find my to the river bank.
After riding few km, I found a dirt track going downhill towards the river. I enquired to a local fellow and he confirmed that the dirt track would lead me to the Rangeet river bank and cautioned me as the track was not in good shape. But who cares! I took the dirt track and very slowly I went down – it was boulders, mud and slush and even I found small stream of water passing through the track and after tight a turn, the vast open river bank of Rangeet showed up. I rode till the bank of the river and somehow managed to keep my bike on side stand on boulders.
While enjoying the sweet music of the river, few young locals came up to me and was very much interested in my bike, helmet and gloves. They knew little bit of Hindi, that was enough for me to start a conversation. It all started with offering them cigarettes and taking locally made ‘bidi’ from them and ended with sharing their family matters.
I was really feeling like I became one of them. But I had to go back on the road again and said good bye to them. Now the most difficult part, climbing through the dirt track. Somehow I managed to touch the road again and started rolling towards Rabong La.
Well, I found the roads of Sikkim quite different and it seemed to be quite challenging – no guard walls in some hair pin turns and even in some stretches there were no road at all, in some stretches it was mud and slush and somewhere boulders scattered everywhere – the sign of a landslide.
But what made the difference for me was the calmness of the hills and it was green everywhere. The population of Sikkim is very less and you can feel that just after entering Sikkim.
As I was enjoying the ride, observed that the weather is changing – it’s getting dark and foggy, the sign of rainfall. After riding few more kms, it started to rain.
It’s my habit or, a bad habit, you can say of not using any rain gear while riding in the plains since I love to get drenched and it dries up eventually as the wind passes by. But I did not had any idea of a rainfall of the hills(except my 1st ride to Darjeeling, where I kept all my jackets at Kurseong and rode to Darjeeling in my tees and on my way faced the rainfall, but it was not that cold than).
The environmental temperature was below 15 degree; I was in my mesh jacket (with liner inside) and jeans and enjoying the rain, but suddenly it started a heavy downpour. I stopped for a while only to keep my wallet, both of my phones inside the luggage wrapped with plastic. I decided to move forward under the rain assuming it would be clear again after few kms. But I miscalculated. After climbing hills few more kms, it started raining more heavily. I did not found any shade to hide my head(ass). So, I did not had any choice left except riding. My visibility was getting very low and moisture was forming inside helmet visor due to cold and managing the steep bends was getting more difficult, so I had to open the visor to see the road ahead reluctantly allowing the cold rain water splashing on my face. I kept on riding and the rain did not stop either. As the cold wind was passing by, it was stealing away all the heat from my body. My fingers were getting numb inside the mesh gloves. The road was deserted, not even dogs or even birds around, it was only me and my bike. Even I was not able to see the GPS in my phone to see how far I was from my destination. So, I had no option left except keep on going forward. I was feeling terribly cold then and getting numb. Suddenly I was elated to see a board with the road direction “Rabong La – 10km”.
Reached Rabong La, a beautiful small town of Sikkim. But I was not in a condition to enjoy beauty, I was freezing. I managed to find a coffee shop and had two cups of coffee with lots of sugar in it. Had my lunch too after a while with rice, daal and bhaji. Inquired the locals and got the direction towards Borong.
After leaving Rabong La, I found the road completely deserted and very challenging. I was constantly monitoring my fuel gauge as I did not wish to getting lost with an empty tank in the middle of nowhere. Top of it, the condition of the road made me really nervous – experienced wheel spin couple of times on the gravels of the road, while managing steep incline, under very poor visibility.
It took long time to reach Borong due to bad roads or no roads and heavy rainfall. I was desperately looking for something warm as I was freezing and some people to talk with. I got a small sign board which reads – “Resort Wild Flower Retreat”, I guess I am saved this time. I booked a cottage, kept my luggage aside, changed to dry cloths and slipped inside the warmth of bed in no time. It was evening when I woke up, I was feeling good after a sleep. I stepped outside and I became spellbound with the view.
Spent sometime at the balcony of the cottage. It was a power cut due to landslide and heavy rain, the caretaker provided me the lamp. First time I found time to look around my room.
To my surprise I found that I was the only one boarder at the resort, it was calm everywhere – yes, yes, yes!! This is what I was longing for. Had dinner early and went for sleep.
End of a such a eventful day…….
DAY 3: Sometimes we get more than our expectation, sometimes we get more than we deserve, sometimes even the die hard non beliver of God even say, ‘Thank you God for everything’ – this was exactly my thoughts when I came out of the cottage after I got up with the first rays of the sun. It was all green everywhere, drenched with rain water, with mighty white peaks in the background. I was spellbound for the moment. It was my time to live the moment.
As the Sun became brighter, and the air got more clear –
Did not had the breakfast on that day except few cups of tea, I spent the whole day sitting outside – never wanted to miss any moment, as I knew that this moment is never going to come in my whole life.
Had a late Lunch though, and the lunch too was magnificent in tune with the environment there – so fresh, so tasty, yet so simple.
I did not took more pictures today as it was my day, enjoyed in my own way – sorry readers, no more pictures today!!
Had to call to my home and I was disappointed to see that my preffered mobile operator is not on the list
Had an early dinner and decided to go to the bed early, though I was not hungry at all – I was already full with the beauties of Nature.
Decided to spent the next day too at the same place.
End of an memorable day of my life, a day of my own; in my own way……………
The next day started just like the previous day – the view was breathtaking but not surprising. The very caring caretaker of the resort forced me to have a proper breakfast. After breakfast, enjoyed the view and the whole environment with few more cups of tea and songs of Anjone Dutta on my earphone.
Last night had some light rain fall and it showed …
The beauty of the Nature of the place was so prominent that I think, I did not require any skills to take good pictures –
It is evident that this part of Sikkim is known for the flowers, orchids and greenery.
And lots of green too…
And guess what, made a friend too …. the guardian of the resort, and he accepted my friendship too.
Since this is an isolated place, the resort meets the vegetable requirement by itself. They grow the vegetable here..
The caretaker invited me to see the hot-spring, which is below 70 feet. Being so lazy fellow I decided to stay at the resort.
In the evening the caretaker served me lots of potato finger chips with tea by of his own and I enjoyed till the last piece with hot tea sitting outside.
Had the dinner early with roti and lots of vegetables followed by a glass of warm goat milk. Decided to leave the place tomorrow morning, heading towards the western part of Sikkim, Uttarey.
End of a lazy day…..
Day 5 ———
Today morning i made the payment at the reception after a heavy breakfast and was quite happy to found my bike covered, protected from rain. Oh boy, I am really happy to see my bike after two days, I really forgot about him(my bike) for last two days.
It’s time to roll again. The weather is clean now. The road which seemed to be so scarey under the rain two days ago, it seemed so nice now under the sunlight. Reached Rabong La in no time.
Had a stop to have a cup of coffee at the same place i did two days before at Rabong La and met Mr Daniel, a farmer by profession and he lives in near the border of Switzerland I was quite amazed to hear that Mr Daniel loves the spicy food of India and even after having some stomach upset after consuming lots of spicy foods, he is interested to have it again.
Now, as I was heading towards Uttarey, which is the western most part of Sikkim, crossed small beautiful towns like, Namchi and Pelling. Just after crossing Pelling the rain started again. Reached Uttarey in late afternoon and again completely drenched. So, without wasting any more time, had some warm food and straight headed towards the bed – I need some rest today. The night was uneventful.
Day 6 :::::::::::::::::::::
The morning was really good since it was not raining and the mighty Sun was shining bright in all possible way – that made me happy. Rushed to the room again and came out with all my wet clothes, including my riding jacket, gloves and helmet and put them under sunlight to dry them up.
Had some walk around. There were also some tourist walking around.The sky seemed to be clear today.
Its time to heading down to Rabong La again and this time I have decided to spend one night there. So, after having a decent breakfast, headed out for Rabong La. Guess what, faced no rain on the road this time.
Some beautiful landscape..
Had a break…
Reached Rabong La in late after noon. I have crossed this place so many times in last few days, it seemed that its my home town now. So, parked my bike,booked a hotel room, had some lunch and its time to rest baby. My room had a small window, opened it wide and took a chair to seat beside the window. Oh, it started to rain again, but this time my timing was quite good as I was seating inside my room and watching the rain.
While enjoying the same, ordered some tea – that completed gap.
Now, here I am…..
Had an early dinner today as I was planning to see Gangtok the Capital of Sikkim once before leaving. Wanted to have a walk, I came outside the hotel, the sky was clear and it was a moonlit too. To my surprise, I was spellbound to see the icy peaks again, I have seen them for two days at Borong. It seemed to me, they have re-appeared again under the moon light to bid me a good by.
Day 7 ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
I never imagined that today is going to be one of the most eventful day of the entire trip. Had a breakfast and started my bike towards Gangtok Stopped at Rabong La Helipad and its a time for my bike to have a click.
Spotted the young rider posing…
Finally reached the Capital, Gangtok in the late afternoon. It was traffic and people everywhere. It was a nice place though but I never expected so much traffic, noise and people. So, in the late evening, after having some round around the town, I decided to head back to Kolkata.
Sikkim has given me exactly what I was looking for – nice people, nice food, and the most beautiful Nature I have ever seen. I was satisfied up to the throat. It’s time to go home now. Started my return journey at 6:30pm and at the very next day around 11:30, I reached my home.
The end of such a memorable ride of my life…..