Wiki Info Gangtok
Bright sunny day even at 6am so we get up and check out by 7. The shared jeep stand is just down the street a block from Hotel Reegyal where we stayed. We are able to get seats in the middle (Bon won't ride in the far back seat) in a jeep leaving at 8:30 so plenty of time for some breakfast.
The road to Gangtok is mostly paved and downhill. See photos. Arrived in this capital of Sikkim about 11am, hiked uphill to New Modern Central Lodge where Buddha, the manager makes us a deal on a big room 6th floor with a view balcony . We talked with Buddha for a long while about options to see the sights but all possibilities came down to either too much $ (unless sharing with 2 others) or going by foot and taxi which takes too much time and it's hot climbing up and down these steep hillsides. When we found out it would take 4-5 hours to go N. to Singtik (furthest we are allowed w/o another permit) - clearly not a day trip, which is all we have left - we decide the best use of our time would be a tour to best sites around/near Gangtok. Again, not a cheap option so we're hoping to find at least 1-2 others to share the cost. Medi, the Israeli gal is staying in the hotel right next to us but when we saw her late in the day it turns out she would have loved to but just bought train ticket leaving tomorrow!
We went out to dinner with her and again had a fine chat along with a young Brazilian guy who is working in Katmandu for a year for an organization attempting to deal with the human trafficking issue that is so out of control especially in Asia and especially with young girls! Fascinating discussion all around! Closed the place down i.e. last ones out the door. Raining hard now - midnight! Might not do anything tomorrow.
After unsuccessfully trying to reach our daughter re. business we scheduled a tour via New Modern Travel Lodge and Buddha. We were unable to reach the Spanish couple staying here, hoping to share cost but instead bit the bullet and forked over the equivalent of $24 US! From 11:30 until 5pm our non-English speaking driver took us to Enchey Monastery (only 200 years old), Ganesh Tok (a view point to see the city which immediately up arrival clouded up), Himalayan Zoological Park(right after buying entry tickets it began to pour), Namgyal Institute of Tibetology which was inside/unaffected by the rain, and finally, after an hour drive 20 k, from town, to the huge Pal Zurmang Kagyud Monastery. See photos.
Tourist Info Gangtok & Pal Zurmang Monastery
Namgyal Institute Tibetology
Back in town we go to Subway for comfort 'real' food!
Already looking forward to the day we have to travel to Calcutta for our plane to Myanmar, ha! Sikkim has been different from India in most aspects other than the overlay of India culture coming from 50+ years of being here. The people are not pushy, they smile readily, they don't try to hustle you at every step, they seem to make every effort to honestly help you. On the other hand the food is no better, mostly the same as Indian. It is hard to adjust to the up/down switchback travel which takes hours to just cross a valley which looking across you'd think it was a hop skip jump away. Bon timed it, they average 20 km per hour = 12 mph!
We regret not being able to travel N from here even just as far as Mangan the furthest we can go with the permits we have w/o having to apply for another. By in large, other than the partial rain out today we've been lucky weather wise, very minimal impact on what we've been able to see.