On our 8 hour drive along the mountain roads and stop at the local market in Rabongla before continuing on through semi tropical forests, cardamom plantations and small villages to Gangtok the present day capital of Sikkim,spectacularly set on a long ridge flanking the Ranipool river and offering many fine vantage points of the entire Kanchenjunga range.
Its Friday the 2nd of October, Ghandi's birthday, and there fore another excuse for a holiday in this part of the world which is code for everything being closed and the little chance you had of getting a beer just evapourates. We cannot complain as we did not go on these trips for beer (didn't we - Dave!!) - off we go good little tourists.
Leaving Pelling we head for Legship (strange name) and cross the border out of Sikkim back into West Bengal at Jonethang via Rangpo to Gangtok.
Gangtok is a big market town build on a hill. We arrive early afternoon and head off for a wander. There is nothing doing in town - Ghandi's birthday has closed most things down (although there is a little statue of the main man in the centre of town that's getting plenty of attention, garlands, etc. As we wander Nic spots a coffee shop and decides that's what she has been missing so we sample (twice) what turns out to be not a bad brew. Back to the hotel because tonight our special buffet come complete with samples of the local brew, a type of millet beer - its a special treat organised by Ali. The food is pretty good but the beer is the star. It comes in big containers made from bamboo filled about 2/3rds with millet - hot water is added and allowed to ferment. A silver straw is stuck in and you suck - when about half the fluid is gone you add water again and repeat for 5 or 6 times. It tastes like a thick wheat beer - some loved it others hated it - we thought it was good.
Off to be as happy little tourists slightly squiffy.
Other point of note was Yannicks plaster - boy was he happy - it seemed to cheer him up and he automatically thought that as he was now happy again everyone should forgive him for being a miserable swine over the least week - fat chance - we al just ignored him. Later in the holiday many amusing moments as he tries to keep the plaster dry.