31.10.2012 - 31.10.2012
Luckily, after the mental jeep journey up from Darjeeling we soon realised Sikkim was worth the visit. The capital town of Gantok - although being warned it wasn't great - was lovely. It was a lot more developed than either of us thought it would be with a definite Swiss feel to it (we later discovered the governor wanted it to be like a little-Switzerland) and with of course great food, great people, and absolutely beautiful surroundings. To wake and be able to see prayer flags fluttering over the mountains from your bed is pretty special.
Unfortunately a downfall was our hotels location. The hotel itself was perfectly fine, however, at 5am each morning the most infuriating song with a chorus of 'la la la la la, la la la in the mooooorrrning, la la la la la, la la la in the evvvveeeening' was played at full blast on the street below our window. And I mean seriously full blast. Then, as a form of EXERCISE, people started counting from 1 to 20 over and over and over again. At different speeds. To music. FOR AN HOUR. It was hell. It was really like some kind of torture! To hear those numbers repeated and repeated and repeated oh my GOD I nearly cried the first morning. We soon got into the habit of having iPods and headphones close to hand.
We visited a gorgeous couple of monasteries in the town of Rumtek, an 'interesting' waterfall park, ate good food and met some lovely people by simply walking through town. We had invites to stay with various families the next time we visit India and had our photos taken 'on the sly' all over again. By on the sly I do of course mean mobile phone cameras held pretty close to our faces then swiftly moved to look over our shoulders when we turn. Oh, and there was an incident with a child who tried to get in front of me in the queue for ice cream. Obviously I wasn't having that and I did actually slightly push him aside, but only because i'd been waiting for a while and honestly, some children are very rude.
After the few nights we had in Sikkim we had to get our last train in India to reach our final destination of Kolkata. We were slightly nervous of having to go back to a big city after such a long time in the hills and in Nepal but it really was a nice surprise.
Kolkata is busy yes, but no more so than some parts of London, and the size of the streets and all the bright yellow ambassador taxi cabs around gave it a real New York feel. The people were all really friendly, again we ate great food, and again we had three thousand photos taken of us. Particularly at the Victoria Memorial which was a beautiful building in even more beautiful gardens. We were getting approached for so many pictures in fact that towards the end we just stood next to each other and I shouted 'any photos come on over now, 10 rupees per picture, photos with the English girls' though of course despite many many photos being taken we had no payment. Worth a try though? The Indian Museum left a fair amount to be desired in terms of what you could actually learn there, but the Memorial made up for it. I'd like to spend longer in Kolkata I think. It's such a huge city with so much going on and so much to explore. Although interestingly NO wifi anywhere and it would seem only ONE Internet cafe? Hmm maybe a gap in the market...?
It's so sad to have now left India. Our last evening we went and sat on a jetty near the Howrah bridge, just looking over the city, at the hustle and bustle, drank a chai, ate a samosa. I can't believe three months have passed already in India and Nepal alone. It's crazy. And crazy to think there's another three months in Asia to go yet!
India and Nepal have been completely amazing. More than I could ever have imagined. I already want to go back and we've only been gone two days. They've given me memories and stories I'll have forever. Some horrible days and some absolutely out of this world fantastic days. If I could do it all again I would in an instant. BUT, here's to then and here's to now, to the next stage in the journey. On to Bangkok!!!