India, Lachung, Sikkim

North Sikkim Day 2: Exploring Lachung

June 17, 2016

We woke and left our hotel in Lachen at 5am!  The room was so cold and moist that it was actually quite nice to get out and explore the area.  Also, when you’re seeing sights like this…

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… you wake up pretty quick.

We were heading even further north this morning.  The plan was to drive for an hour and a half and then have breakfast. Not that many options if you’re vegan round here.  Not many options if you’re not vegan round here either.  The menu was usually eggs, boiled eggs, fried eggs, omlette, or really gnarly bread held over a flame until it was a little crispy (a.k.a toast). Surprisingly there wasn’t a load of fruit on offer either.  We did manage to find some bananas, so we had plain toast and then some bananas after, just to make the experience last a little longer.  Amy went in for the Jam but it looked radioactive.

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Nescofe

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I guess that last paragraph reads like I was unhappy.  Far from it.  The experience was amazing.  We were having breakfast in this little wooden shack in an epic valley at 8am with the locals.  Any other day of my previous life and I’d have been on a train with 4 billion other commuters, irritated and wondering why the guy next to me won’t stop elbowing me in the back.  In this little village though, there were no tourists for miles and miles.   This was the real deal.  There was a fire burning in the middle of the room and on top of it lay a metal bowl full of boiling water.  A constant supply to keep the tea flowing all day.  The locals were curious but friendly.

I remember very clearly exchanging looks with the rest of the gang.  It was a look of  “OMG, where are we?  This is unreal”.

This was the view from outside our breakfast joint.

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Magic, huh!

The summit of our morning’s journey wasn’t that far.  Adventure was just around the corner.

So this spot was a far as the driver was supposed to take us.  We got out of the jeep and took in the view.

Steve struck a pose for his 2017 calendar.

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Our tour guide used the opportunity to relax.

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Steve then decided to pose for his 2018 calender.

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It was after this beauty of a spot that we were supposed to take a “little” hike back to where we had breakfast.  However, keen to make the most of the area we paid the driver to take us an extra few kilometres than he was supposed to.  We really wanted to see what was over the next peak! Not sure exactly how far up we went, but the altitude was high and we all felt extremely light-headed having ascended so quickly! But SNOW tho!

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After we’d messed around in the untouched snow-capped mountains (I know!!!) for a while. We started our walk back.

So. The understanding was that we had an experienced tour guide who had done the impending walk before.  Our guy said we’d be walking for about an hour.  No big deal that we didn’t have any water or food.  You don’t really need water or food when you’re only off for an hour’s jaunt.

The walk was amazing.  We followed a dry river bed down through the valley.

An hour passed.

“Just out of interest dude, how much longer? We’re a little thirsty now”

“30 minutes”.

The river bed disappeared.

At this point we had nowhere to go but to work our way through rhododendron bushes…I swear these bushes felt like they were pushing against us.

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Another hour passed and we had made it to slightly easier terrain.

Then it started to snow…

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After a long, long, long time we finally reached the bottom of the valley.  We were so close to food, water, fire and a chance to recover from the migraines we all seemed to have as a result of dehydration.

Wait a minute, there’s another valley to cross. Oh my God.

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The final valley we had to cross.

No biggy though.  One of the magical aspects of travelling is that if you don’t die, you’re sure gonna have some good stories to tell. We later found out that our guide was a student who wasn’t getting paid for his time with us.  Instead, he was gaining experience.  Dang. We also found out that he had never done that walk before.  No shit!  We were chilled about it though and politely offered some advice for future tours.  Things like carrying water/food for your gang for if you end up walking aimlessly through the mountains. You know, for those time when your 1 hour walk turns into 4.5 hours.   Fortunately he was a super guy and great company so this little blip was easy to forgive!

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Beyond the physical and mental battle of getting through the walk we really did have an incredible time. The scenery was breathtaking. The company fantastic.

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Amy stacked it.  Don’t worry, she’s ok.

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After a very late and much needed lunch, we jumped in our jeep and embarked on a bumpy ride to Lachen…

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3 Comments

  • Reply sarah June 27, 2016 at 10:26 am

    Ahhhhh the infamous “half hour” walk!! An unforgettable day. Watching the yak herder bring his woolly gang right past us, their bells tinkling across the valley floor and the sound of his whip cracking so impressively. So otherworldly.. and so wonderful to read this! x Sarag

  • Reply sarah June 27, 2016 at 10:27 am

    Ahhhhh the infamous “half hour” walk!! An unforgettable day. Watching the yak herder bring his woolly gang right past us, their bells tinkling across the valley floor and the sound of his whip cracking so impressively. So otherworldly.. and so wonderful to read this! x Sarah

  • Reply Amy Hiller June 27, 2016 at 11:43 am

    Watch this space for the highlights video ft. yaks xxx

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