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Old 22nd March 2009, 00:18   #1
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Default Holiday gets aborted at the last moment - share your feelings

We got around 8 days from March 21, which can be taken as holidays with minimal disruption to work. And from then work coming up again full force and with kid's school opening from mid April, last 10 days of March was the ideal time to take a short holiday. Plus was tagging this also a 1.5-year Safari ownership celebration travel. Also with all XII exams of all different boards going on, the tour would have come out also quite economical, more so in these difficult monetary times - On phone itself, I was getting around 50% discount at a very decent Gangtok hotel. Nowhere hotel rooms were booked as we were sure of getting good discounts - All these discounts will evaporate once the exams are over within the next 7-10 days or so.

So our story goes like this, we were supposed to leaving around 12 midnight for our 750 km journey to Siliguri and then towards Gangtok - so that by Monday I can start convicing the sikkim administrative people out there to let the private vehicle [Safari here] go through to explore North Sikkim. As the policy stands now, no private vehicle is allowed to go after Mangan, the entry point of North Sikkim. If permission was not possible then the backup plan was to travel to equally beautiful and the unknown places of South and West Sikkim.

March 21, 530 pm - Get up quite refershed after a 3-hour of sound afternoon sleep - enough to carry through the overnight non-stop journey.

9 pm - all okay no problem, remaining work finished and emailed to client.

9:30 pm - Can smell the fantastic chicken tandoor pieces being cooked, special dinner was that and some good tea/cofee around half hour before journey.

9:45 pm - all items packed up and suitcases and bags zipped and closed. Ready to be hauled into the VTT-TMT.

10:15 pm - Checking mail last time and thought of going through a Sikkim newspaper online, just seeing if any news. It was just a casual browsing and no more, expected no bad weather news since almost everywhere this has been the hottest winter and in fact last week or so read news like Sikkim was also having unusually hot weather. Then this is what we see -

Quote:
Heavy snowfall forces tourists to return back

Heavy snowfall that had choked the Jawaharlal Nehru road making traveling dangerous forced hundreds of tourists to return back to Gangtok without reaching their dream spots of Tsomgo Lake and Baba Mandir. The Nathu La Pass had already been closed for tourists from yesterday following the continuous snowfall.

Sikkim Police and Indian Army personnel manning the mountainous corridor at the border area pushed back the batch of 149 vehicles loaded with tourists considering their safety. The vehicles had managed to reach 1 km away from Tsomgo Lake when heavy snowfall between 10 am to 11 am blocked the road for almost one hour leaving the tourists standard. It may be recalled that 85 tourists had been similarly standard on March 18 due to heavy snowfall. The tourists had been rescued and evacuated back to their hotels in Gangtok by a commendable rescue initiative of the Indian Army and Sikkim Police stationed in these high altitude areas.

Sikkim Express - Sikkim own's Daily Newspaper


North Sikkim highway closed
The minor pre-monsoon showers not more than 20 mm that lashed across Sikkim on Wednesday evening not only disrupted power supply, KO internet services and sent telecommunications into a tizzy but has also snapped the North Sikkim highway. The North Sikkim highway from Gangtok to Mangan is presently closed as it is buried under an avalanche of slides at KM 11 near slide prone B2 trigged by the pre-monsoon lashing.
A major slide had taken place at the spot on Wednesday night just near B2 beyond Penangla effectively closing the North Sikkim highway. Rocks are still sliding down at the spot making restoration works by Border Roads Organization (BRO) difficult, it is learnt. Though the BRO personnel are trying to clear the debris, continuous slides have made it dangerous to work full-time. The BRO is also concerned over the safety of its labourers in such hazardous conditions where death may a stone way.
Sikkim Express - Sikkim own's Daily Newspaper
I look for sometime blankly at the news item, like no point in going since my primary aim was to go to N Sikkim, though the chances of getting permission is remote, but now with roads closed and chaos, surely there is no way I can even approach them.

So as the reality sinks in, break the news to wife - first reaction again of absolute disbelief - we were around 1 hour away from our journey. Tell the kid too and he in fact takes the news best of all, just a shrug and says we will go next Saturday!!

All packed and grouped, but waiting to be unpacked tomorrow - plus a 20L Kinley and a portable gas stove all filled up
Holiday gets aborted at the last moment - share your feelings-img_0478ee.jpg

So thats it, have the good chicken tandoor dinner, me have good smoke on the verandah looking at the darkness outside and resolutely deciding that anyhow anyway will again try within mid April, though will have to manage work situation and budget will change quite much during the season times. We just have to anyhow try again after this fiasco. And then now just browsing and even took a photo of all packed bags, and with a good afternoon sleep will be awake for sometime, thought of posting this and find some solace in sharing.


Surely quite a few of us would have faced a situation like this - feelings are very strong first few hours and as time goes by we all adapt to the circumstances with a wry smile.

Last edited by adc : 22nd March 2009 at 00:36.
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Old 22nd March 2009, 03:08   #2
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It is really horrible. I fortunately have not faced this yet but can feel your pain. I was supposed to meet the tbhp guys today (Tristate meet) but was held up at the last moment due to a production issue :-(
Anyway, you could have left for Gangtok and then move on towards West Sikkim which I am sure would not get such heavy snowfall.
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Old 22nd March 2009, 07:17   #3
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Anyway, you could have left for Gangtok and then move on towards West Sikkim which I am sure would not get such heavy snowfall.
Would have, was it not for the loss of internet and telecommunications as reported across Sikkim, I was going at a time when my work was less but still not nil - would have to be in contact at least on the phone or better through internet via cyber cafe out there, with another friend here who would have been doing some part of my work whatever small amount it comes. As suggested by the kid, seriously will start thinking if possible next Saturday again.
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Old 22nd March 2009, 08:48   #4
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I am quite confused. If i were you, I'd press ahead ALL the same.

Gangtok to mangan is extremely low altitude arterial road which WILL be opened by the army as early as possible. And its not like its a sexy blacktop even otherwise.

DRIVE ON bosss ...

and yes, no matter what anyone says - you would still be out of reach even in good weather/good times. Lachung/lachen have completely useless network so you can be asssured to be out of touch.

PS: Cmon man - isnt the risk the juice of life? And how can one reschedule later so easily?
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Old 22nd March 2009, 09:12   #5
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DRIVE ON bosss ...

and yes, no matter what anyone says - you would still be out of reach even in good weather/good times. Lachung/lachen have completely useless network so you can be asssured to be out of touch.
Quote:
The minor pre-monsoon showers not more than 20 mm that lashed across Sikkim on Wednesday evening not only disrupted power supply, KO internet services and sent telecommunications into a tizzy
Again, would have but have to be connected at least on the phone/internet around 4 days out of the 8 days planned - as stated due to work coordination with friend. The other 4 days would have been for North Sikkim, though there is a PCO which does function quite okay nowadays at normal times at Lachung. We needed to go to N Sikkim and at least there should be some probablity of getting the permit.

Plus the rhododhendron [they bloom around 3rd week of March to 3rd week of April] would have all fallen due to the rain and snow - so many things were clicking at the same time. The flowering would start again in around 7-10 days.


Quote:
PS: Cmon man - isnt the risk the juice of life?
Of course it is, and haven't lost it even a bit from the solo bike tour days - on the VTT the last remote Sunabeda [Orissa] tour was far riskier than the Lahaul Spiti tour. The tour was absolutely not cancelled due to the risk fear factor but due to the North Sikkim getting permit probability and the rhododhendron bloom time.


Quote:
And how can one reschedule later so easily
Well it still can be done if you are a freelancer and have very good friends to back some part of the work - if it was a office holiday would have pushed off rather than sitting in the house. But the flipside of working oneself is that the costs involved will go up due to the tourist season time plus there is a direct financial loss as no work is no pay for us. Furiously planning next Saturday or around April 1st week - looks something will work out as per the reply to the overnight client mails as of now.

Last edited by adc : 22nd March 2009 at 09:32.
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Old 22nd March 2009, 09:47   #6
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If not North Sikkim, don't cancel your trip, just change the destination / route and have fun ! You can do the North Sikkim jaunt later ! Have myself done that more than once when last minute bookings (yeah, should be better planned ! ) did'nt come through !
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