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How we reached Sikkim.
Back in 2016, we 4 girls were travelling across Sikkim. It had been our first trip together, also a first trip with friends for me.
We had been through a long journey from Pune-Delhi-Bagdogra by flight and later by private cabs and rickshaws to reach Darjeeling.
Evening in Darjeeling
We had reached the hotel late evening, had strolled the whole night on the streets of Darjeeling, had eaten dinner with the local stall vendors, lied down on the roads counting starts, and being driven away across out on the street from a pub.
The meeting point of our New Friends
Next morning our cab was ready for us, to take us sightseeing.
We were all ready to explore more of the city, as we had loved the weather there, and also loved how safe it felt already.
After a breakfast of some Pakodas dipped in Chola, and Mirchi Bhajji at a road side vendor, here we were, 10.30 AM at Batasia Loop.
This was a place with a scenic view. The land ends at a view of the valleys in the mountains, with a bit of foggy uncertain weather.
After peaking at the vendors selling colorful sovereigns, we proceeded inside.
This spot is where the famous railways of Darjeeling’s track spirals around over itself through a tunnel and over a hilltop.
To read about where to visit in Darjeeling, visit my blog: Travel Guide: Darjeeling
We were hoping to see the railway, as this was the only time we could see it (as we had to proceed to our final Destination-Bhutan we were running low on time).
Just then, we were caught up by the vendors renting the local Darjeeling dresses for photographs. The dresses were vibrant in color, had the typical jewelry, and a belt in-between the waist area on the long flowing gown. The dresses were also accompanied with the tea baskets.
I was a lot confused choosing one from the lovely colored dresses. After a long while, I was finally able to choose a red colored dress with multicolored borders. The others were already ready and clicking photos by then.
The vendor was a small lady, almost half my height, she helped me to dress up quickly so that I could then join the photography session which the other 3 were already half way through it.
Just when we were done photographing ourselves, we saw a random boy wearing the traditional dress, and we started thinking of a way we could capture the male dress too in our photographs. But we couldn’t find a single man dressed alone, everyone was accompanied with their better halves.
We were scanning the whole place for anyone who could get a male dress up photographed with us. Our gaze met a group of 5 youngsters, 4 of them dressed up, and the last one photographing them, probably the photographer, or a local man photographing them, we thought.
Should we or let them?
The moment our gazes matched theirs, our thoughts were put to reality, we could get them to accompany us in our photographs, as they were also 4 of them dressed. Now the question was who and how would we ask them without passing on a wrong intentions, so we purposely strolled near them to make ourselves noticeable.
Luckily the photographer guy who had a DSLR camera spotted us and he himself asked us if we were okay if he clicked us.
We were happy to say yes, and we allowed him to click 2-3 photographs of us, and later included the boys also in the photographs, by which our mission to get photographed with a male costume, was accomplished. We were happy, and the boys were friendly.
Clubbing of plans
Later, we asked them about their plans of the day, and next day, to which we knew they were also headed to Gangtok next day evening, same as us. So we proceeded with our plan for the day and decided to meet them in the evening the next day, have snacks with them, and then head to Gangtok together, as it was easier and also economical to get a bigger 7 seater cab.
The next day, one of us wanted to stroll around the town for some shopping, and I wanted to visit the Ghoom station for I had it seen its beauty in the movie Barfi, and I was curious to go there. It was afternoon by the time we came back to our hotel, packed up and checked out.
As we had decided to meet the boys in the evening, we headed back to the meeting point. They were already there having snacks, and had already booked a 7 seater taxi.
On the way from Darjeeling to Gangtok
We were quite surprised by their bags, as being boys they had carried even more luggage than what we girls had, so fitting in the Cab was a tough part with almost 7-10 huge sized bags along with 9 adults and a driver. The journey from Darjeeling to Gangtok was fun!!! At first, we had second thoughts about how safe would it be for 4 girls to travel with 5 boys that too for until late evening, but as we got accustomed with them, we found out they were literally fun.
There was one serious one amongst them who never spoke much and was the shy types- he was the photographer, a bullied one who the other guys teased for his dumb acts, a decent and shy one, and a late current who understood jokes after everyone had even stopped laughing at, he was also sitting in a awkward position besides the driver in the middle seat in a way that the gear handle was in-between his two legs, and you could imagine the fun we had teasing him on this.
We had fun pulling each other’s legs and listening to each other’s funny stories from the past….Ohhhh!!! There were too many of them.
To read about places to visit in Gangtok read my blog: Travel Guguide to explore Gangtok
Once we reached Gangtok, we hadn’t booked a hotel yet, and there were 2 different roads lined up with hotels, a lower one and a upper one, and we were confused which road to head to.
Some Mutual Responsibilities
So, we girls mutually decided to split up into packs of 2 along with the boys. One pack would go around and search for hotels and the rest 2 would stay on the spot, the guys had no plans to wait with us at first, but being responsible enough they decided there was no point in everyone heading to check out hotels, so 3 of them decided to wait by us while the other two joined the 2 girls.
The spot where we waited while others looked for a hotel, was right on the rickshaw stand, and the rest road was secluded by then. They boys intelligently and proactively positioned themselves between us and the rickshaw walas, standing as a safe barrier to their view.
Once the others were back finalizing a hotel, we all headed to the hotel, we were quite impressed by the team work, and they had found a real cheap (cost wise) and a safe hotel, more like a dormitory.
Our first meal together
We decided to drop our bags and go around the upper the street for dinner. Once out on MG road, we found a cozy hotel where Non-Veg and Veg Chinese food was served as some of us were the kind who don’t eat veg at the restaurants, and we ordered our food.
Once food was served, no one was concerned which dish they had ordered and which one was their plate, everyone ate across plates, as if we knew each other for months, there was only one boy and one girl who didn’t eat non veg, so we didn’t mess up with their plates.
After dinner, we strolled through the Mall road, clicked few photographs and headed back to our rooms, for we had a long Gangtok sightseeing Journey the next day.
Getting to know more
We woke up in the morning, and as decided checked out from the hotel, and proceeded to Baba Harbhajan Shrine. On the way covered a few spots, we were enjoying the boy’s college stories, and telling them our childhood stories as well. We came to know they were residents of Asansol, a city in Kolkata, and were college friends who came on a trip.
We reached the Shrine, which was again a very beautiful peaceful place, built in his honor, believed that his spirit protects every soldier in the Eastern Himalayas even today, his spirit is also said to be protecting the country even after his death when the Indo- China war broke out.
A game with the local kids
On the return Journey, out cab broke out. We were stopped in between the ghats, and our cab engine needed to cool down from the pressure put on by the uphill journey in the morning. We were bored in the car, there was nothing to do, just then we heard children screaming, and we decided to head in the direction of the sound. We saw a small opening in between the roadside bushes open towards a small ground. Few kids were playing football, rest by the bonfire.
We asked if we could join in too and they happily said they would love a bigger team. We started playing like kids, after ages, we felt so young. Kicking the ball, not knowing in which direction was the goal, we all enjoyed a lot. After a match, we sat for some time by the bonfire just when our driver called us out to head back to the cab.
We headed back to the hotel as it was evening by then and we had decided to stay in the same hotel another night. The next day we visited few more spots in Gangtok like the church near our hotel, Rumtek monestary, Ganesh Tok, The Botanical Gardens, Banjhakri Falls, We had a cable ride for which Gangtok is famous for.
Some more fun along the days
There was a point I remember called Tashi View Point, where we put on the Gangtok traditional dresses. Here, not needing to ask the question anymore if or not we are okay to be photographed together, we clicked so many pictures that the camera memory got full.
Late nights with new friends
That evening we headed to Kalimpong, a 2.30 hour drive from Gangtok as we needed a hotel near by this railway station, we had to head to our Bhutan Journey the next day early morning, and the boys had to head back to Kolkata by a train later in the day. We had some time left before we slept for the day, so we decided to head to the nearby market. But by the time we reached the market by the Tuktuk, it was already closing time.
Walking back to the hotel as we didn’t find a Tuktuk, we were hungry, but we couldn’t find a restaurant on the way however, there was a small food joint where Chinese and rolls were served, but was a take away point. We were so hungry that we decided to eat sitting on the bicycles and bikes parked outside the joint, using the seater as tables.
After a memorable evening, when we were back in the hotel, we were finding information from the hotel people on how to head to Bhutan. The people started talking scary things about verification and entrance of Bhutan. Someone even said a blood test would be done, and that thought kept me thinking all night, for I am afraid of needles. I still remember my reaction on it, and other people in my group making fun of me for being such petrified. (Luckily it was all false information)
Farewell to our new friends
The next day, we woke up early as we had our train from Kalimpong station to Hashimara station at 6.30 Am and we also had to pack our bags last night. We weren’t expecting the boys to wake up in the morning, so we already had said our goodbyes, and exchanged numbers at the night itself. To our surprise when we were yet sleeping, we got a knock at our door. It was 5 am and it was one of them, to give us a wakeup call, such a sweet gesture.
Once freshened up, we checked out of our rooms, and we found the boys at the hotel counter before us, ready to drop us off safely by our trains- a very unexpected gesture.
Some good Realizations
This was the moment, it struck us, that spending just three days together, we had made a bond as strong as this, for which they were so thoughtful enough to wake up so early in the morning. Our hearts were heavy by these realizations, but we had to continue our journey ahead. So, bidding them goodbye, and one last train snap, we started our journey- TO BHUTAN
To Know more about Bhutan, read: http://www.happyfeettravellers.com/travel-guide-7-days-on-the-land-of-thunder-dragon-bhutan/
Here we meet again….tadaaaaa……
While returning from Bhutan we had a day halt in Kolkata, by the time the boys were finished with their trip and were already in Asansol, their home town, resumed in their day to day lives. But knowing we had a whole day before we catch a train late night back to Pune they came by completing a 4 hour journey, just to meet us one last time. So again we met, a day out at Kolkata, where we had the best biryani of our life, the best mishit doi, some best moments by the Howrah Bridge, and a basket full of memories to take back with us home to cherish forever.
Now when I look back to remember this day, I feel so lucky to have found friends like them, and feel so sorry to have doubted about our safety in the first place. I now realize, they were the safest, the most decent and the nicest of the boys to travel with.
They were not friends only for the trip, we continue our friendship today also, video calls at birthdays is a mandatory procedure, Snap chat streaks is a daily procedure, I am still teased with the fear of injection, one of them is still called as Panda for being a late current to understand jokes.
And we met again
2 years later we met again in Pune when they visited for a job interview. And swear, the bond, as same as back in Sikkim, reliving all the memories again. We spent some time in KFC rejoicing the moments we had spent back in Sikkim
They say “friends who travel together, stay together” has come true with our journey of friendship still continued.
One of the greatest things about travel is that you find out how many good places are yet to be discovered, and so many great souls yet to be found.