Luxurious Lachen...

Trip Start May 31, 2007
Trip End May 20, 2008

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Saturday, March 29, 2008

So my standards have yet moved a few notches lower and I now consider myself content to stay in places that are not leaking, and are indoors.  Previously, I was looking for beds a bit softer than granite, toilet paper, hot water...or really running water that wasn't a temperature close to freezing, and a towel.   So needless to say, we were not overly impressed by the accommodations in Lachen...which were apparently, "the most comfortable" available.  Luckily, the guy in charge of the place and the cook and the helper were fantastically cheery and at our beck and call which almost made up for it.  I did feel a moment of bliss on the second night when they delivered a functioning room heater!  I thought that I had died and gone on to heaven as the warmth moved over my close to freezing body!  Weird because anyone who knows me well knows that I am almost, NEVER, cold...  My roommate decided to turn the heater towards the wall before she went to bed because she didn't like the light it put off so in the middle of the night, I was awakened by disturbing smells and discovered that the walls were too hot to touch and would probably have burst into flames given a bit more time.  Didn't even bother talking to her about it the next morning because she had decided to hire a different driver and guide because she wasn't satisfied with ours...which worked out great for me because after two days, I had a personal tour for the price of a group tour for the last few days of the trip.

Another interesting aspect I am learning now, is that North Sikkim doesn't have any restaurants that have what we do is tell the manager what we want to eat and judge by their facial expressions whether it is possible, and whether it is possible within the next 5 hours.  Then, based on the information gathered, you modify your order fun.

Aside from all this, the landscape was stunning.  Not since the road from Katmandu to Tibet in 2006, had I seen such spectacular mountains, abundant waterfalls and greenery. The road was harrowing but our driver was good and got us through the dodgy parts.  Waterfalls cascaded over the paved hairpin turns or sometimes, when the falls were large, there would be an older suspension bridge or a newer bridge allowing the water to cascade below the driving surface.  The roads are built and maintained by "BRO" a bit 1984 for my taste...especially with the pithy sayings and warnings painted all along the road such as "If married, divorce speed", "Speed thrills but kills" etc with cute little horns painted on the rocks at the narrow blind corner locations.  Since North Sikkim is near sensitive borders, we saw loads of military all around.  In fact, many of the villages were adjacent or seemingly reliant on the military bases.  There were also quite a few temporary looking encampments for the road and women doing most of the work by hand...including sitting on piles of large rocks, breaking them up by hand with a hammer to create gravel for the road bed...also, the men would be shoveling this gravel or dirt and the shovel would have a rope tied around it which was held by a woman so that she could pull to help offset the load. Talk about teamwork...
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