We drove to Gangtok but we found it to be no different than any other city except, traffic rules were followed with discipline. And maybe that’s because the roads are narrow and yet the city had managed to turn them into two way roads. Naveen, being so used to Bangalore traffic, used the honk once or twice on the main roads and soon enough, we were approached by a nearby traffic officer. Firmly but kindly, he informed us, “Aap honk kyun use kar rahe ho? Gangtok mei no honking, okay?” (“Why are you using the honk? Honking isn’t allowed in Gangtok”)
We felt like kids being reprimanded by a school teacher.
I had visited Gangtok about four years ago with my college. As a college kid, I was more interested in the city in itself, I was so happy visiting the local watering hole for a hot bowl of thupka, some beer and strolling around the marketplace. This time, however, I didn’t care much for the city. Our hearts craved for something else.
Couped up in our hotel room, we opened up our maps and looked for places to drive to. In our heart of hearts, we wanted to be closer to the mountains and the nearest place we could find was a small town, Yuksom. Sikkim’s original capital in 1641 AD.
We did our homework, packed our bags and just like how we had entered Gangtok city, we left it – in a flash.
Our journey to Yuksom was a tiring one. If you know Google maps, you know she always routes the shortest way to your destination. And so, we were stuck driving on the back road to Yuksom. The roads were struck by landslides and they were so rough and undone, our car – nicknamed Zeus, groaned with every bump and every stone. And it didn’t help that the temperature kept dropping with every turn uphill. And all this to save ourselves an extra hour on the road. Which, by the way, wasn’t even the case, the four hour route took us nearly six hours to reach. Thanks but no thanks, Google.
By the time we reached Yuksom, it was well past ten at night. Thankfully, we had eaten our dinner on the way, had we been hungry when we reached, we would have found nothing because the town was deep in sleep. We later found out that by eight, the town wraps up for the day.
Our hosts, the Limboo family were graciously waiting for us and welcomed us into their warm home with a flask of hot water and cozy room.
We fell asleep almost immediately.