Gangtok and Tsomgo Lake

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April 9th 2012
Published: May 31st 2012
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We hire a taxi in Lava to take us all the way to Gangtok. The driver is friendly & we have a good trip. Arriving after dark, & in the rain we are greeted at our Guest House by a man with an umbrella, shown our emaculate room and brought a pot of tea. A brilliant welcome! We are staying at the Hidden Forest Retreat, where the room is spotless, the service impeccable, the food excellent and the grounds are amazing!

Besides being a guest house, the hidden forest is also an orchid nursery. On day one in Gangtok we wander through town,make arraingements for our trip to Tsomgo Lake, close to the Tibetan border, check e-mails, exchange money, do some shopping & just look around. We get lost, & then find our way. On the street, we are greeted by a lovely teenage girl who asks where we are from & then tells us "welcome to Sikkim." We meet a lady with a baby who is at first frightened by us & then blows us a kiss.

Going to Tsomgo Lake, near the border, requires us to take a tour. The Tour operator gets us the necessary permit (to visit a military sensitive area), a driver and a "guide". Our guides job is to get us thru the military checkpoints and then keep an eye on us. He is both annoying and impolite, but we put up with him because we have to. The lake itself is full of domestic tourists riding on yaks & (many but not all) drinking alcohol. The ride up to the Lake takes us from sub-tropical Gangtok to Alpine zone in about 2 hours on a very rough road. We were warned the the road was in bad shape & it was. Still, we are quite glad that we took this trip. It was our one venture into the HIGH Himalayas, within 5 miles of the Tibet border.

Our visit Rumtek monestary withour new friend Heather will be in our next entry. We spend one more day in Gangtok & visit the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology and the Royal Chapel where we spend an hour listening & observing the young monks practice chanting. They fix a place for us to sit when we enter the chapel & we also get to see some of the work being done on the wonderful paintings that cover the walls. Gangtok is a sweet and enchanting place for us. I have always wanted to visit there. We are so grateful to to wonderful people we met there.

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