The Whirlwind Tour

I completed a weeklong tour to Eastern Nepal, Darjeeling and Sikkim on three days ago – and wanted to write a few things about it – but the tour was so tiring that I failed to gather enough courage to do so. As a few of us in our 25-member touring party rightly put – the tour was a Touch Tour that we touched every places and never really had enough time to explore them. Our six-night seven-day tour consisted of 78 hours of bus riding – well that makes half the tour time and we of course did sleep at nights!

The tour party at Chowrasta, Darjeeling.

We spent nights at Itahari, Kalimpong, Gangtok, Darjeeing, Biratnagar and Itahari. Overall, it was an worth-experiencing tour that kept a lot of us wondering why did we visited the Indian hills leaving behind better/more beautiful hills in our own country.

For us, the ride to Dhankuta from Dharan was more enthralling than the ride from Gangtok to Darjeeing and the sunrise view from Sarangkot, Pokhara was prettier than that of famous Tiger Hill of Darjeeling. It was kind of self-awakening tour for us where we, after visiting the * (that could be 5, 7 or 9) -points destinations in Gangtok and Darjeeling woke up to know that the * could mean a 100 in many places in Nepal.

The most bothering aspect of the tour was that we went on our own bus and there were no place to park it in Darjeeling and Gangtok (well, jeeps or cars could have been easier) and our driver was always waking up early in the morning to go around on the bus looking of places to park. The roads there were narrow and only jeeps/cars were permitted! (I wonder why there is no tourist bus park or something like that).

One thing that we can learn from them is the tourism promotion. At Gangtok, we went to 7-point tourist spots (something that their guidebook says should not be missed). But after visiting a monastery, the flower complex, ridge garden, ropeway, Tashi view point, Ganesh tok and a handicraft display, I said: “If these are tourist attractions, I believe if such spots are included, the guidebook of the Kathmandu Valley will be as large as five dictionaries!”

At Darjeeling, if you ask anybody about a place not to miss, everybody will say Tiger Hill – which is 15-16 KM from town and if need to hire a jeep to go there. In Kathmandu, no one bothers about Nagarkot!

For us, the monasteries, mountains, hills and scenic bird-eye view of city meant nothing (we are used to it). Though we thoroughly enjoyed visiting Delo, a hilltop in Kalimpong with a nice garden and hilly views and loved dressing as natives at Batasia, Darjeeling and the World Heritage Train (sadly we didn’t have enough time to ride it as we were suggested to move out by locals to avoid troubles as the people demanding Gorkhaland – a separate Indian state were gathering at famous Chowrasta).
At Darjeeling, what amazed us (and it will to you if you visit the city), is the number of agents who try to stop you here and there on your arrival asking for hotels and all. Of course, we managed to wipe off a few before finally deciding maybe it’s better and easier with them and without them. That was annoying!

All these cities close at 8 PM – and that didn’t matched my time because I wanted a spent at least an hour on cyber cafes looking at mails and all. But could not – that too irritated me (but was probably better for my tiring body).

The best part of the tour was that I never felt that I was abroad – since Nepali was the language used most in all these areas. I could easily talk in Nepali at hotels, cyber and melas.

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