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  • Writer's pictureVoita

West Sikkim

I learned in the morning that during monsoon buses don't venture further inland. The only alternative are shared jeeps, departing from across the town. An hour's work to walk. Although key chowks of the town are connected by zapping cabbies, charging a penny a ride. All transportation is government controlled.

Not surprised to have missed the morning ride, I accepted a seat in the afternoon share car. Hopefully the weather won't go all out on us.



A soldier waved me over and since I had time to kill, I didn't object. He was in charge of a gatekeeping unit, but inviting a foreigner for a cup of tea was clearly an acceptable extension of his duty. India boasts one of the largest armies in the world - there are bound to be friendly souls amongst them. And in a country where people don't question every authority, it's a respected occupation offering a chance to see all corners of mother India and experience its countless cultures.



Shortly after one PM our jeep took off like a can of sardines excited for their trip ashore. The surroundings here are similar to Darjeeling: expansive, densely forested hills leaning apart to leave oceans of space for the valleys splitting them, situated in the pleasant temperatures between three and six thousand feet. But Sikkim's roads are much better, for an hour we sped away on an actual asphalted two-line strip.

Most of the journey the slope-side of the road was buried in rubble, tree stumps, and dislocated earth. All that was maintained was a narrow passage, barely wide enough for one vehicle, over the ravines disappearing below us.

3 levels of sweets

same in every shop anywhere

In Gangtok I slept high above the city, in Pelling the price selection forced me deep underneath. And so, with the dusk creeping into the land, I went for a mini-trek, which instantly whisked me away and back into Nepal, culturally speaking. The village is in the far west of the state, close to the border and, like in Darjeeling, many of its inhabitants are Nepali.


West Sikkim


Here we go again: evening family gathering in the common area, everyone passively listening to the news out of the dad's phone. Dal Baht for dinner in case I was feeling homesick. Nearest restaurant is forty minutes up a major slope. And that, in the evening

darkness

end of the world

lightning

The weather has graciously allowed our passage in the day, but bounced back for its due after the sun has cleared the stage. If there isn't at least 200 millimetres of solid downpour in 24 hours, rain would be let go and forced to go sweat over the southern US.

The storm's might has knocked power out for the entire valley. Pelling sits in around 6.000 feet, which makes it easy to check.

I'm only quietly hoping that a mountain hasn't collapsed somewhere on the local power plant.



We're all sat by one flickering candle, which reminds me of traditional Czech folk tales filled with proverbs and death.

And the storm rages on.

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