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Published: August 12th 2007
View of Gangtok
Sikkim has lots of things; it has lots of Gompa's (Buddhist monastery), lots of taxi's, lots of mountains, lots of nice and relaxed people and lots of rain at the moment... What it doesn't have much of is pollution, thanks to a government which prides itself on being the most eco friendly in India, neither is there much hassle... In fact this is not India, politically yes, but in everything else not...
And what do you do in a country which has so much nature and so many Gompa's... Well if you don't want to pay a lot to a travel agency, you can forget about doing any significant treks... Because much of the trekking is done in Northern Sikkim and other sensitive border areas, for which you need a special permit, and those you can only obtain via a travel agency... But there is still enough to see, even without doing the treks... Since we did the Singalila Ridge trek around Darjeeling it wasn't really so important for us to do another big hike... So instead we chose to visit the plethora of Gompa's scattered around the country... First around Gangtok and later we did the monastic trek around
The mean streets of Gangtok
Pelling (the only long trek which you don't need a guide for...) visiting different holy Buddhist places... Khecheopalri lake, which is so holy that any leave that falls into the lake gets removed by birds right away, Yuksom, which has Sikkims oldest monastery and Tashiding where you just have to gaze at the Thong-Wa-Rang-Dol stupa to wash away all your sins... Very handy for all us sinners out there, no need to get dirty in the Ganga River and risk contracting a nasty skin disease... Just a short gaze and all is well again...
And to top it all off we went to a festival in Ravangla, where the local school kids performed dances from the different hill tribes around the country, all dressed up in the local garb... After this it was time for tasting the local food and more importantly the local brew, in which the sports minister of Sikkim joined us... All that sport must have made him thirsty!
So in short, if you like mountains, monasteries, relaxed people, beautiful nature and you are a sinner, come to Sikkim... And after doing all that enjoy a beer with one of Sikkims ministers while you talk about
Namgyal Institute of Tibetology
the fleeting nature of life...
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