Yuksom to Uttarey
The next day, along with some yummy aloo paratha and sabzi, we bid farewell to the Limboo family. It wasn’t a tearful or heavy goodbye. It was simple, to the point and very polite. Just like our stay there. We were guests in their home but their hospitality never made us feel so. If you ever decide to visit Yuksom, even if you are just passing by, choosing to stay at the Limboo’s will be the best decision you can make.
They are a warm, welcoming family who will take care of you to their best effort. The stay is warm and comfortable and their food, dear Lord, their food! Everything they serve is organic and grown in their farm, next to their homestay. It’s fresh, healthy and you will keep wanting more and more of it, even though your stomach is bursting.
They wished us a safe and happy journey, as a parting gift we decided to present them with kadlekaai unddes (laddoos made from peanuts and jaggery) that Naveen’s mother had packed for us. They had shown us such love, we wanted to give them something out of love as well.
Our next stop was Utteray. a small town west of Sikkim. It was going to be a four hour drive from Yuksom. Filled with happiness and a full stomach, we started our drive there. The day was pleasant and sunny and the drive was easy. While we were about twenty minutes away from the town, we decided to call Sherpa homestay and see if we could check in with them.
And that’s the first time we spoke to Pema Sherpa. Pema Sherpa who helped us discover Sikkim in a whole new way. But, more of that later.
By the time we reached Utteray, it was around four in the evening and we were feeling hungry. So here’s the thing about small towns, it’s difficult to get hold of a place that will serve you food during odd hours. (Odd hours being the time in between lunch and tea time, this we experienced not only in Utteray but Yuksom too. To our good luck, in Yuksom, we found a certain Mr. Gupta from Bihar who had set up his restaurant in the little town. Off season or peak season, you can always find Mr Gupta’s restaurant serving hot chai or cool local beer.)
We reached our homestay and though Pema wasn’t around to receive us, he had had made sure our room was ready and Tashi, a handy man and a trek guide for the Sherpas, was there to welcome us.
When we asked Tashi for food – he looked at us quizzically. “Noodles chalega?” (“Will noodles do?“) He asked, scratching the back of his head, hoping we’d be okay with it. We were hungry and we were going to be okay with anything, honestly.
We settled into our room, admired the view outside and gulped down the two bowls of noodles Tashi had served. I was still hungry and a hungry me isn’t really nice to be around. I get all sorts of upset, angry, cranky, whiny and Naveen handles all of those moods with patience and calmness.
We took out our car and decided to go hunting for food. One of the main attractions of Utteray is the Singshore bridge. It is the second highest bridge in all of Asia and it connects two hills and helps trekkers cover a large distance in a short span of time. Due to an accident that had occurred, the bridge was shut for all vehicles. But we still got the chance to walk across it and peek down at the valley, 300m below us.
Also, it’s a tourist attraction and we were sure we were going to find something to eat there. I prayed we would find something there.
We walked across the bridge, peeking over to view the deep valley, when we reached a small eatery. The kind lady who ran the place told us that at the moment we could only get momos and chai. I was up for it. It was a cozy little place, made warm by the yellow light and the lady working in the kitchen. We were welcomed by a few locals who were already seated inside, sipping on thongba.
Thongba is a drink made out of millet mixed with warm water. Something like beer.
I know, when I heard about “warm beer” for the first time, I told myself, wow thats nuts. But it’s nothing like you’d imagine it to be. It’s like freshly brewed beer, but there is no God awful bitterness or fizziness to it. It’s fresh and warm and perfect for the cold weather. Don’t knock it till you try it, I say.
We made friends with some of the locals there who were surprised and shocked that we had driven all the way from Bangalore to here and that we were going to drive around everywhere. We spent some time there, filling our stomachs and hearts before we decided to make our back to our stay.
When we reached the homestay, we were greeted by Pema who was more than excited to help us plan our next few days. He said we could walk up to a nearby waterfall for starters and then see how things pan out. He was ready to give us company on the trek since he didn’t have much on his plate. A little while later, we were greeted by his wife, Jamuna Sherpa. A chubby, bubbly woman with laughter on her sleeve who was excited just to meet us. She served us warm tea and traditional snacks and told us that she too would be joining us for the walk to the waterfall.
We couldn’t wait to see what the next few days had in store for us with the Sherpa family.
P.S. In case, you ever decide to make a trip to Yuksom. Call up the Limboo family (097330 84983) and treat yourself!