India
West District

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7 travelers at this place

  • Day45

    Trekking with a missionary

    April 24, 2019 in India ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    The two following days have been busy solving my paper issues. After leaving my bicycle to Rohit in Jorethang, I took a jeep to Yuksom, the former capital of Sikkim, from where i was hoping to start the trek (a 8 to 9 days expedition that would allow me to catch a last glimpse of the Himalayas before pursuing east !).
    I was soon stopped : without the first permit I was not given when entering Sikkim - the inner-land permit, I could not get the second one - the trekking permit. I also found out that it was impossible to go on my own without a guide...

    Sikkim might be heaven for birds, trees, rhododendrons and... snow leopards, it is not always so for the uninformed foreign tourist ! And its special status (due to its late attachment to India, with the end of the monarchy in 1975, it has been granted more autonomy and is ruled by a special "act", like Jammu & Cashmere) just seems to create more administrative-hassle than in other parts of India...

    So... At 5 pm i started looking for a travel agency and met a very gentle and helpful man : Birendra Ray, who helped me sort everything out. He first took me to Pelling, where I needed to get some cash (Yuksom being the ancient capital does not mean that it has an ATM..). He also invited me to his home for a nice potato & chapati snack, made me visit one of his schools and showed me around (an old monastery, a giant Buddha statue...)

    Just like for my previous guide in Nepal, I have to write a few words about Birendra, who is quite an original and enriching person. Aside from being a guide (he only helps his "brother"- a guy from his village - at the traveling agency) , he is a maths teacher and the founder of 4 non-profit private schools, where orphans can enroll for very low fees. He is also a former theology student and "missionary" : he traveled around India for 8 years "preaching the gospel". This job actually seemed to require both analytical and surveying skills, since the missionaries would collect data from the villages, and according to the demographics and religious trends, set up targeted interviews and speeches. But how and why does a sikimese hindu man become a missionary...? When in his 20s, Birendra read the New Testament and was amazed at it (he quotes me specifically Lazarus' raising from the dead). He then had the courage (and strange idea?) to convert to Christianity, against his parents' will. When he told them about his new faith (and tried to convert them), he was expelled from home and had to take care about himself. In the end, the guy was convincing enough to convert his very young wife, a 17 year old girl he met in a village, even though she was a Lepsha, that is to say one of the 4 most ancient and respected tribes of Sikkim (usually referred to as "Lho, Mon, Tsong": "Lho" are the Bhutias from southern Tibet, "Mon" the Lepchas" from the lower eastern Himalayas and "Tsong" the Limbus. Apart from these "high-ranking" people, who still enjoy special privileges nowadays, Nepali communities stand for 60% of the Sikkimese. Birendra belongs to them !) End of the digression in the digression.

    Since then on, Birendra stopped being a missionary and dedicated himself to education and social welfare. He now dreams of opening his own travel agency in order to raise money that could be reinvested in his schools and in an orphanage. He wrote his ideas on social activities and education in two books, in Nepali and English. Busy man ! His story reminds me of how entrepreneur-minded Nepali and Indian people can be ! I am impressed. End of the digression...

    Anyway. His generosity found an opportunity to be embedded with my case... He spent lots of time and energy negotiating with another "brother" to get me the inner-line permit from Gangtok and eventually, because he could not find a guide, offered to go with me... At a very interesting price.

    The following morning, we negotiated hard at the police outpost and at the Kanchenjunga national park office. When at the police station i could see that the situation was becoming desperate and that the stern officer was just telling Birendra to go f*"' himself, I silently jumped into the conversation and gave the policeman my best naive and "ow, that's so sad, what am I gonna do with myself?" look... Five minute later, my passport was stamped and the guy let us in ! :)) Birendra still had to write a letter saying that he was taking full responsibility for me, and was not very pleased about that... But overall, we made a good team ! And that's how the trek started !!
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  • Day49

    Dzongri trek - In the chowkidars' huts

    April 28, 2019 in India ⋅ 🌫 9 °C

    Among the treks one can walk in Sikkim, the Goechala trek has the reputation of being both scenic and difficult. I can add that it is quite rustic. With no showers, no comfortable accommodation and not much food available on the way, tourists are highly encouraged to book full-package expeditions, i.e. with many porters, yaks and horses carrying their equipment (tent, food, mattresses, etc). Being just the two of us, Birendra and I were the exception to this rule. We were carrying ourselves some dry food and our mattresses and sleeping bags.

    Overall, I appreciated this, since it gave us the chance to spend more time in the "chowkidar's" huts (guardian's hut). Here the chowkidar and his family of assistant cook and sleep and welcome the guides/porters as well as some indian trekkers. You are being offered a cup of milk tea upon arrival and then the endless conversations start. In nepali, tibetan or hindi ! I could barely understand a few words... and mostly the english ones. But I seized the opportunity to try on my newly-learnt hindi sentences. Which would make everyone laugh... I especially enjoyed one night, when we had a singing session with some Indian students in forestry. One of the guys had a great voice and was excellent at singing Indian romantic songs.

    Despite this nice atmosphere, I was a bit disappointed by the landscapes, especially after the amazing Anapurnas trek. This was mostly due to poor weather conditions : fog and rain, again. No wonder why Sikkim is so green ! Even waking up at 4 am to climb to the Dzongri top (around 4200m high) did not allow us to enjoy a wide and clear view over the mountains.

    In the end, I decided to shorten up a bit the trek: bad weather, lack of money (everything there is so expensive!), lack of comfort and privacy (I was all the time with Birendra), eagerness to get back to my bike also, all contributed to this decision... We did so by walking a bit faster and longer than the "normal" days and by turning back at Dzongri. The second and last Goechala viewpoint was actually closed, due to attacks by snow leopards on tourists ! (?)
    The last descent was long : we swallowed up what some trekkers do in 3 days in only 1. After 4 trekking days, we were back in Yuksom.
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  • Day93

    יואקסם

    April 16, 2016 in India ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    אחרי שניסיתי להגיע לפאלינג ללא הצלחה מצאתי את את עצמי ביאקסום , מקום נחמד עם מקדשים והרבה טראקרים באמצע סיקים , אני אשאר פה עוד קצת נראה לי

  • Day95

    אינטרנט, סלולרי, נאפאל ופסח שמח

    April 18, 2016 in India ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    המספר שלי השתנה ל 8145454303, בשבועות הקרובים אני אעבור לנאפאל ומתכנן לחצות ממזרח למערב אל אוטרקאנד בהודו, אני אצטייד בסים נאפאלי לדאטה ושיחות ואעדכן בהתאם, עד אז שיהיה פסח שמח לכולם.

  • Day100

    ליל הסדר ביוקסאם

    April 23, 2016 in India ⋅ ☀️ 17 °C

    מסתבר שהיו פה 18 ישראלים בסדר לעניין

  • Day12

    Yuksom

    November 17, 2019 in India ⋅ ☀️ 16 °C

    Erster richtiger Ruhetag nach 10 Tagen in Indien. Kleiner Spaziergang im Nationalpark natürlich nicht ausgeschlossen.

  • Day14

    Rund um Pelling...

    November 19, 2019 in India ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    ...während meines Tagesausfluges zum nächsten Geldautomaten. Die alte Stadt Rabdentse, sowie das Kloster Pemayangtse.

  • Day16

    Offline wegen Hochgebirge

    November 21, 2019 in India ⋅ ⛅ 12 °C

    Ab morgen für eine Woche oder so nicht erreichbar. Liebe Grüße an alle.

  • Day24

    Abschied von Yuksom

    November 29, 2019 in India ⋅ ☀️ 13 °C

    Morgen ist Abreise

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West District

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