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Old 16th January 2008, 03:19   #31
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surprisingly, this time around Darjeeling was not at all crowded. I think it gets crowded during the summers... the view of Kanchenjungha from Darjeeling is really different from anywhere in Sikkim. The altitude of Darjeeling plays an important role here, its truly the queen of the hills..
Yes, many dont know this, but the best time to visit darjeeling is in the end of December when the sky is totally clear allowing the majestic view of Kangchenjunga (there are so many spellings of this like Khangchendzonga it actually get confusing, but who cares) from the town itself. Moreover Tiger hill sunrise on a winter morning is a different ballgame.

The crowd thankfully goes in the summer where most of the time people see clouds.

However Sikkim, makes me feel like a foreigner in my own country. How did it feel in having to hire the services of the Armada?

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Old 16th January 2008, 09:19   #32
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Dada, Now its time for a Delhi - Gangtok dash on your beast...Try it out !!

Abhi
Abhi, I really wish I could! Unfortunately, these days, with my ailing mother staying with us, our trips have come to a grinding halt. Our last road trip with the beast was to Kasauli in March 2007 - haven't even been able to try out the Fiesta on long distances yet which is quite unbelievable!!

But, surely, someday........
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Old 16th January 2008, 09:58   #33
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Very nice pics, Blackpearl. I have spent some time in the last 1.5 years in Lahaul-Spiti and the Leh, Ladakh area and because of that I can really appreciate the grandeur of the mountains in your pictures.

There is a guy here close to me who has an old four wheel drive Armada that is currently not running. I am toying, thinking, about the idea of buying it and throwing some money at it to restore it to level one, like new shape. I need something to bop around Ledakh, Nepal etc in up in the big hills. However, I really do not know anything about the Armada so this has stopped me so far. What did you think of it.? Yes I know it is basic but that is what I want plus this one is a 4x4. Your thoughts? Anybody?
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Old 16th January 2008, 14:31   #34
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How did it feel in having to hire the services of the Armada?
I am a novice when it comes to 4x4, but I really liked the armada. this one was fully loaded with power steering, power windows, blaupunct music system with JBL speakers and a soomoku sub. wish I could have driven it but could not muster enough courage to ask Sonam as he loved his car more than anybody I have seen . the car felt at home in those terrains. But I did not find the seats comfortable, particlularly the rear seats. It was a pain to remain seated for more than 1 hour at a stretch. But it may be due to the fact that I have a slipped disc.

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I am toying, thinking, about the idea of buying it and throwing some money at it to restore it to level one, like new shape. I need something to bop around Ledakh, Nepal etc in up in the big hills. However, I really do not know anything about the Armada so this has stopped me so far. What did you think of it.? Yes I know it is basic but that is what I want plus this one is a 4x4. Your thoughts? Anybody?
thats an excellent idea. only thing I would suggest is to go for good captain seats at the rear with good lumbar support as I found the seats in the armada really horrible. but change them only if you plan to take passengers along with you
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Old 16th January 2008, 18:29   #35
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Aahaaa, this reminds of my trip to Gangtok/Tsomgo lake 5 years back.Lovely pictures of a lovely place.Thanks for sharing.I wish I could again be there soon and will visit Darjeeling also this time.
Tsomgo lake? When I went there in 1994, it was called Tssangpo lake and also as Chhangu lake.
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Old 16th January 2008, 21:23   #36
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I am a novice when it comes to 4x4, but I really liked the armada. this one was fully loaded with power steering, power windows, blaupunct music system with JBL speakers and a soomoku sub. wish I could have driven it but could not muster enough courage to ask Sonam as he loved his car more than anybody I have seen . the car felt at home in those terrains. But I did not find the seats comfortable, particlularly the rear seats. It was a pain to remain seated for more than 1 hour at a stretch. But it may be due to the fact that I have a slipped disc.
My question was not to get a review of the Armada. But the very fact that you had to hire the services of it. I dont think the roads were such that your car couldn't have managed.
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Old 16th January 2008, 22:15   #37
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My question was not to get a review of the Armada. But the very fact that you had to hire the services of it. I dont think the roads were such that your car couldn't have managed.
my car would not have managed to go to some of the places with the load of four adults and their luggage :-( and there were some places were it would need a sump guard. a well prepared rally car would have easily made it. the ground clearance of the armada came real handy in some places as there were no roads due to landslides.
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Old 16th January 2008, 22:26   #38
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Tsomgo lake? When I went there in 1994, it was called Tssangpo lake and also as Chhangu lake.
it is called Tsomgo now -

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Old 17th January 2008, 02:21   #39
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my car would not have managed to go to some of the places with the load of four adults and their luggage :-( and there were some places were it would need a sump guard. a well prepared rally car would have easily made it. the ground clearance of the armada came real handy in some places as there were no roads due to landslides.
But you wouldn't have been able to take your car even if you intended to. You need prior permission and stuff, too complicated for a sudden decision to go there.

There also seems to be a mandate that Sikkim registered vehices will only be allowed to go there.
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Old 17th January 2008, 17:29   #40
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Nice travelogue BlackPearl. Brings back memories of a similar trip I had done a few months back. Also making me feel guilty of not putting up a report.

Hope you wouldn't mind me posting a few pics from then. Too lazy to write a report.

This is how Gurudongmar looked like then. We managed to walk around the place a bit, but were hit mildly by AMS for an hour. But the place is worth every bit of it.







Changu lake. We were standing by and the mist sets in from left to right like it was a controlled smoke machine. In about 2 - 3 minutes, we couldn't see the lake. One of those moments when you wished you were Rudra!

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Old 18th January 2008, 00:49   #41
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very nice pics @Joz. When did you go there?
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Old 18th January 2008, 22:16   #42
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It was great reading the journey. When I did North Bengal in October, day time, the roads were quite congested. The speed at which the work on the GQ road was progressing it looks that it is going to take quite a lot of time, but once done it is going to be superb.

Also it is quite distressing that they still do not allow to go beyond Mangan - looks like I will have to wait going beyond that until some Army contacts come up.

Another question, what hotel was it in Gangtok - and do you recommend it?
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Old 18th January 2008, 22:32   #43
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Also it is quite distressing that they still do not allow to go beyond Mangan - looks like I will have to wait going beyond that until some Army contacts come up.

?
It has been like this for decades I think. I did not get permission to go in 1994 when I drove to Mangan in my bike. Tried meeting the District Magistrate for permission (he is the authority, not the army). Do you think Sikkhim has some funny rules that cut off several areas from outsiders in the name of preserving some ethnic tribes like the Lepchas? Don't think it is an Inner Line Permit or Army problem.
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Old 18th January 2008, 22:58   #44
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It was great reading the journey. When I did North Bengal in October, day time, the roads were quite congested.
true, its quite horrible during daytime particularly in and around malda. and the cycle vans loaded with hay make cruising impossible on the NH34.

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Another question, what hotel was it in Gangtok - and do you recommend it?
for the past three years we have been staying at our company's guest house, so cant say anything about the hotels. in 1990 we stayed at a hotel called Tibet and it was quite nice. It still has a good name and would recomend that. The internet sites about Sikkim say that their food is a must-have thouh I havent tasted it recently.
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Old 18th January 2008, 23:38   #45
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It has been like this for decades I think. I did not get permission to go in 1994 when I drove to Mangan in my bike. Tried meeting the District Magistrate for permission (he is the authority, not the army). Do you think Sikkhim has some funny rules that cut off several areas from outsiders in the name of preserving some ethnic tribes like the Lepchas? Don't think it is an Inner Line Permit or Army problem.

Most likely, the inaccessibility is more because the tour operators clout.

I was following another thread on xbhp

HOW! sikkim chapter with all the updated details of Sikkim. - xBhp

and these guys have a comment like this:

"""abount the permit issue... if u cant find any army contact, Sikkim Home Dept and Sikkim Police together can provide the permit... but that totally depends on your convincing skill... its tough but possible... keep one or two full day at Gangtok for convincing purpose...""""

and also later on

********
How to acquire permits in Sikkim?

Now this is million dollar question and the most disturbing one when you plan for Sikkim , specially North Sikkim. Since sikkim has borders with China ,it’s a highly sensitive area and entry is totally restricted. Sikkim police issues separate permits to enter both Nathula and North Sikkim respectively. But Sikkim police is very strict in issuing permits to people who want to explore Sikkim on their own private vehicles. Frankly speaking Sikkim police doesn’t like the idea of issuing permits to a group of bikers who want to go on their own, because if something happens to the bikers Sikkim police is not much interested to take their responsibility.
We approached Indian Army and could convince them about our plan for our whole trip. They were a little skeptical about the whole idea but agreed after requesting them. Once army was convinced getting the permits from police was child’s play. I would like to point out here that be sure about acquiring the permits before you venture for North Sikkim.

********


Would wait for the day as of now for going beyond Mangan [Gurudongmar and Yumthang] by self drive - as it looks like good contacts are inevitable.

Last edited by adc : 18th January 2008 at 23:57.
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