The diary of a few rides and clicks!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

On 6:50 AM by Yashwanth Rao   9 comments
Day-7 : Lachen - Gangtok

We woke up at around 7 to a chilly morning, which we were used to already. We had breakfast at our lodge and vacated it by around 8. Our target was to reach Gangtok and wait for the other two, who were stuck at Tangu, hoping they'd find some help. It is always boring to ride back in the same route again. In all other trips, we used to plan the route in such a way that we usually never would come across the same route again, even while returning. But here, it was the only road reaching North Sikkim and we had to ride all the way back till Gangtok in the same roads. There is a small falls called the Seven Sister falls also in this route.



The same Chungtang, Mangan again, meeting some of those people like the restaurant guys, petrol bunk guys for the second time and bidding them a goodbye after letting them know that we did it safely, we reached Gangtok around 3.30pm. We rode slowly all along in the same bad roads. At some places, they were repairing the roads as well. After reaching Gangtok, we started looking for a decent lodge and found one with a good view. 




We relaxed there for sometime and then started searching for a garage to fix some minor issues like changing brake pads, fitting the number plates, etc. At around 5pm, we got a call from our friends who were stuck finally. They were just 20 minutes away from Gangtok! We asked them to come to the garage directly. They reached soon and we were so happy to see that the bike was proper once again! They had rode continuously from Tangu to Gangtok with just one break in between. Considering the bad roads we came across, it was nothing short of an achievement to ride that stretch with just one break! 

Then they started explaining to us regarding what happened. When the 3 of us left from Tangu, the thunderbird didn't start at all there. And we 3 didn't stop until after some 8-10 kms. So the 2 of them stayed back, trying all the possible ways to start the bike, and taking help of many army personnel as well. The army mechanic also did try many things, but nothing worked out. They thought it was some alternator coil problem or something and it can't be repaired anywhere other than Gangtok. So they had to spend another cold night at Tangu. The next morning they woke up as early as possible, waiting for any army trucks going towards Lachen, to tow the bike. Many people in the army were asking questions regarding what happened and they had answered those questions 'n' number of times already! After answering the 'n+1'th guy, he started telling he had a fiero and it can be some spark plug problem. He tried something, and Vrooooom! The next place they stopped was at Mangan, without turning off the ignition to eat chocolates/biscuits at least! And there they were, one fresh bath and a soft bed away from the much awaited rest!

We decided to explore the city once. The MG road in Gangtok is a very popular place for shopping and restaurants. It gets closed for vehicles and only pedestrians are allowed during evenings. The place was crowded with tourists. We had one long walk there, exploring everything and had our dinner there as well. 

Day-8: Gangtok - Tsongmo Lake - Nathu La - Baba Mandir - Old Silk Route - Zuluk - Rangpo

According to our actual permits, we were supposed to enter Nathu La on 25th. But we got delayed by 2 days throughout and we had to change it to 27th. It sounded very simple, but it was not! We went to the tourist office to get it changed, but he started to demand that he needs a letter from army office to change it. The army office was closed on that day because of a national holiday. The guy at the tourist office refused to change the dates. Then we called up Mr.Pulger, who had helped us when we went to take permits on the first day. He was the Asst. Director at the Secreteriat or something, which I forgot  When he called him, he directed that guy at the tourist office to go ahead and change the dates. Mr.Pulger was impressed when he came to know we had come on bikes from Bangalore to go there, and he didn't want to disappoint the 5 enthusiastic bikers  Without him, we had to plan something else.

After getting the permits, we started towards Nathu La. Nathu La is a high altitude pass connecting India and Tibet. It is the border between the two countries. It is a very famous destination in Sikkim and hence tourists were more. There were many cabs all along the way and we never got an empty road all the way till Nathu La, and these roads were bad as well. 





On the way to Nathu La, we came across the famous Tsongmo Lake, which is locally known as the Changu Lake. The lake looks very beautiful when the mountains are covered in snow. When we went, the mountains were dried up and the lake looked pretty normal. We took some snaps there of the lake, and then sitting on a yak there!




After riding for another hour and a half from Changu lake, we reached the checkpost for Nathu La. The security at the checkpost asked us to show the permits and we showed it to him. Then he told, they have not mentioned Nathu La in the permits and we can go to only Baba Mandir! We then checked our receipts and that tourist guy had scribbled something which remotely looked like Nathu La, and looked more like Baba mandir. We asked him to let us go, but he denied continuously, telling it is a high security zone and it is not in his hands to let us go without a permit. We begged him for another 20 minutes or so. He didn't listen to us at all. Then some Major or someone came there. We told him we have come all the way from Bangalore and now due to some permit mishap, we are not able to cross that checkpost. He then let us enter, and asked us to return within 30 minutes! We immediately pulled the throttles and within 5 minutes, we were in Nathu La - the border point. There was just a fence between India and Tibet. We took some snaps there, and when nobody were lurking around, we stepped at the other side of the fence, claiming we have stepped our foot inside Tibet, adding one entire country in our travelogue now! :P For the records, we DID step into one more country during this trip - Tibet :P






The other side of the border looked beautiful as well.







From Tibet (:P), we then went towards Baba Mandir. Baba Mandir is a small temple built in the honor of a brave soldier named Baba Harbhajan Singh. We took some snaps there as well, and enquired the route to go to Rangpo from there. We had actually not planned to cover Zuluk, as Google maps doesn't show that route. According to Google maps, to go from Nathu La to Rangpo, one has to go all the way back to Gangtok and then proceed. However, the army personnel there told us the roads are very good and we could easily go all the way to Rangpo from there directly via Kupup, which is the shortest route. One of the guys drew a small map, explaining which all villages we'd be passing through. We took a photo of it and proceeded. This route is not shown in Google maps, as it has more army presence. There are many army bases all along the way. We were instructed not to take pics of such army bases. 





Surprisingly, this route which was not shown in the maps, was the best ever road we came across in Sikkim. The entire stretch was full of many hair pin bends and loops. We were at a very high altitude and were covered in clouds at many places. The famous loopy pictures of Zuluk was the inspiration for us to keep it as an option, but now, after experiencing it, we can't imagine how much we would have regretted if we had missed it. We thoroughly enjoyed riding there taking numerous pictures. We came across many army trucks and jeeps all the way. At one point near Zuluk, we could see miles and miles of loops below us. We had to descend them, and that sight thrilled us! I am not going to explain it more, as these images would do that for me!






























It was getting dark now. We were so close to China that, once our cellphones got connected to a China network. We received a message telling us that incoming/outgoing calls would cost us 100 Rs/min and a SMS will cost us 150 Rs! After riding for sometime, we met 2 more bikers who were part of some group, and they were headed towards Gurudongmar lake. After letting them know about the status and all, we had dinner at a place called Rangli. We came across bad roads again from there till Rangpo, which is situated in the Gangtok - Guwahati highway. We stayed in a good lodge, which belonged to tourism department. Sadly, there was no ESPN/Star sports. So we couldn't watch the football matches of the day 


Day-9: Rangpo - Jaigaon

After 8 days of bad roads, we were finally done with them! From here onwards, we were back in the highways! Jaigaon was our destination for the day, which is the border town between India and Bhutan. The road was really good and we did nothing but ride ride ride all the way till Jaigaon with 3-4 breaks in between, to eat cucumbers, have lunch and take some snaps at the tea plantations. It had many stretches of straight roads. Our bikes were happy to roar again in full throttles!





Within evening, we were at a lodge in Jaigaon, watching Chelsea vs Manchester United, which Chelsea lost in the end because of bad referee decisions 

That would be our last night in India for a few more days, and we were all geared up to enter a new country in our bikes for the first time - The land of the Thunderdragon - BHUTAN! 

9 comments:

  1. Hey where is the rest of the travelogue?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Was busy all these days buddy. Will be continuing it now.

      Delete
    2. Its great adventure.. I am planning for same, may be more extended one in Oct 16. Would be great if we can connect over an email. Really need few tips. My email : kumar.soneta@gmail.com.

      Thanks!!

      Delete
  2. Thanks for sharing your trip experience. It was great fun to read your post. The charming places to visit in Gangtok have seduced generations of travellers and here are some of the tidbits by way of Gangtok tourist places. Attractions such as Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary, Kanchenjunga Mountain, and Do-Drul Chorten Stupa all live up to their exotic names. Explore all best places to visit in Gangtok.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Yashwanth Rao, It a very good wright up. i need your help. we are traveling in our bullet in same route this sep. i need to know about bhutan and the permits requires for the whole trip. and some do and donts. you can reach me at vishnu.prasath@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  4. I am impressed!! Where is next part-8 ??

    ReplyDelete
  5. hi Yashwath i read all the parts , i'm planning bangalore - mizoram-bangalore ---solo ride on KTM 390 . i need your help . Can you please inbox me your number or gmail id to sadeshi2@gmail.com . I'm from bangalore .

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thank you for sharing the wonderful information about your trip.Your travelogue is really awesome to read your blog.I get to know alot of information from your blog.If you are planning to travel to different places and explore things then book tickets in leading bus travel operator like Jabbar Travels and enjoy your trip.

    ReplyDelete