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Old 12th April 2010, 20:11   #151
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Yeah they have been doing this for many generations.

they have range upto 50k per Kg that are exported and bought by crazy british mostly.

Nathmulls :: Show Room
"Seriously" was not meant for Nathmulls.

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Old 12th April 2010, 23:26   #152
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Thumbs up Very nice travelogue!!!

Very nice travelogue and pics, SS Traveller. We had travelled to the ‘Land of Thunder’ and Bhutan in the year 2006. It was, still is and will remain one of our best expeditions! We used public transport all through and were able to enjoy the trip to the fullest. We have so many fond memories of that trip! My travelogue on that 'Incredible Journey' is here in Team BHP somewhere!!!

When we travelled, the road widening work was being carried out by our BRO. I am surprised to note that it still hasn’t finished! We were terrified seeing the deep ravines en-route to Thimpu and we literally hung on to our dear lives, when Tashi, our driver, speeded up, to enable us to reach Thimpu, before the hotels closed up! We stayed in a hotel on the main road itself. I believe the hotel that you chose was near to the clock tower.

When we were in Thimpu, the clock tower was still getting its final touches! Space 34, the most popular disco in Bhutan, is also near the tower.

The most remarkable experience of our trip was when we spent some hours outside our hotel, in the middle of the night, because they had locked up and were sound asleep! It took a Bhutanese Angel to rescue us!!!

I also remember having RC @ Rs. 10 per peg, along with hot water, with my breakfast! Chivas Regal used to cost Rs. 150 then!

We liked Paro much better than Thimpu, simply because of its natural beauty! The days we spent in Paro, were some of the best of our lives! I simply adored the Paro Dzong. It was one of the most beautiful Dzongs we had ever seen!

I want to share four pics from our trip! I hope it is Ok with you!

Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-1-dzong-paro.jpg

Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-2-a_walk_in_the_clouds.jpg

Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-3-thimpu_clock_tower.jpg

Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-4-a_walk_in_the_clouds.jpg

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Old 13th April 2010, 05:00   #153
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Wow, I was quite happy to see the narrow guage rails & I hope it doesn't have any chains to pull up like the ones we see in Nilgiris. Regarding the food, it looks colorful & I enjoyed, but to eat, I would enjoy staying away
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Old 13th April 2010, 11:09   #154
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Very nice travelogue and pics, SS Traveller.
I want to share four pics from our trip! I hope it is Ok with you!
Thank you, C_L, and you are more than welcome to post more such beautiful pics.

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...I hope it doesn't have any chains to pull up like the ones we see in Nilgiris.
??? Chains ??? Don't get you. Please elaborate.

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Regarding the food, it looks colorful & I enjoyed, but to eat, I would enjoy staying away
One man's meat is another man's poison, they say...
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Old 13th April 2010, 16:17   #155
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Thanks for sharing the Darjeeling pics. Its always so fascinating to stroll around the mall and take in the sights and sounds.

With every passing year, Darjeeling is getting so crowded, but the mall has managed to retain its charm.
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Old 13th April 2010, 21:09   #156
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??? Chains ??? Don't get you. Please elaborate.
Possibly means rack rail.

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Old 14th April 2010, 11:35   #157
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I just spent 2 whole hours reading through every word and scanning every pic of this wonderful travelogue. Awesome travelogue as usual, dada. Your eye for detail and wonderful narration make me feel I'm right there.

Your best one this side of the Thailand travelogue

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We drive through the main street of Paro, which reminds me vaguely of a set from an old Wild West movie...
I thought exactly the same, a scene out of a fistful of dollars. Looks like at any moment one of the swivel doors would swing open and the McNamara brothers would step out!

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The first floor has some government offices, all with matching curtains.
Interesting fact: Bhutanese men can marry multiple times by law, but the first wife has to agree to the next marriages. Without the first wife's consent, the other marriages are not acceptable.
The curtain pic looks surprisingly symmetric, as if an origami cutout or something.

And I'm jealous of Bhutanese men. Their women actually do give consent?

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The only affordable edible item there is the chhurpi, a dried hard cheese made of yak's milk.
I've had this stuff (albeit with a different name) on some high-altitude treks I've gone to. Doesn't taste any good, but keeping one block in the mouth keeps your body surprisingly warm in the bitter cold.

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We get to chatting, and discover the secret behind the lady's culinary abilities in serving up good Indian food. Mrs. Tendi has lived in Kolkata for a long time, having studied in the Assembly of God School and is an English (Hons.) graduate from the Bhowanipur Education Society.
Incidentally my wife has affiliations to the same institutions, having graduated in English hons from Bhowanipur Education Society and now doing her Teachers training at AG. We're contemplating opening a restaurant in Bhutan now!

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At the entry checkpost into Sikkim, we are asked whether we have rented the car. Since I am aware that an "yes" would mean the driver's needing to shell out Rs.200, I answer that it's a friend's car, and show the fellow my ID. He lets us through, saving Rehman the money.
That was very benevolent of you, especially after the row you had with the guy about luggage.

__________________________________________________ ___________

Now you're in known (to me) territory! We did a looong Darjeeling-Kalimpong-Gangtok-Pelling-Siliguri-Gorumara tour in 1999. Stayed in some lovely places, including Morgan House at Kalimpong and Hotel Mt Pandim at Pemyangtse.

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Soon we approach Tsomgo (aka Chhangu) Lake, but we are not stopping here now. Our destination is the new Baba Mandir.

A few quick photographs of Tsomgo Lake as we pass by it. More on the return journey when we stop here.

We have not paid the permit fees of Rs.1500 for the last 4-km climb to Nathu La, but in the event it turns out to be money saved. The road to the pass is closed, snowed out. Already as we approach Tsomgo Lake, the surrounding mountains show presence of snow, and there's deep slush on the road.
Well in 1999 there was no Baba Mandir. Tsomgo was a less crowded place (no "market") in the vicinity. Obviously, it was much more beautiful.

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We are stuck. Royally stuck. Stuck on an upslope, with a slushy surface on which the tyres find no purchase, and the engine has no more grunt left anyway to turn the wheels. Ponytail tries to reverse down. The windows are fogged up, and his head is bombarded by falling hail as soon as he sticks it out of his window. In his efforts, he manages to place the car perpendicular to the road, cutting off any further chances of other traffic passing him by.

The road fills up with ice. There's ice on the bonnet piling up a few inches onto the windscreen. The wipers are totally ineffective.

A couple of brave drivers from other vehicles behind us run up. They ask us to get out of the car.WHAT?!!? Well, the time has come for Plan B.

We get out of the car. One of the drivers takes over the wheel. As we walk back to the other cars, looking for a few empty seats, here's a video.
This one was really scary!

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Khecheopalri Lake is a magical place to be. As soon as the engine is switched off, an utter calm and quiet descends on us, punctuated by the distant, shrill call of a bird somewhere in the forest.

The lake is accessed along a leaf-covered pathway leading away from a monastery. The five-minute walk is rejuvenating after being cooped up in the Bolero for so long. The first view of the placid lake is almost like a picture out of a fairy tale.
Totally agreed. Khechophalri struck me as an extremely serene, clean, picturesque place. My parent actually wanted to stay over there for a day, but there was no accomodation available anywhere near, in 1999.

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At this rate, I suppose I'll be ruining your trip, because when you land up at these places, you'll be muttering I've already seen this, what am I doing here?
Confidence!!!!

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The road from Kecheopalri first enters lower Pelling, and the hotels here have better parking spaces and appear to be newer. However, Upper Pelling is where we find a hotel (most are empty anyway), and settle in for the night.
In 99 there were 10-12 hotels in the total of Pelling. Much better than all of them was the Mt Pandim hotel in Pemyangtse. Did you try that one?

And its good you got rid of ponytail finally. With all that trouble that he gave you guys, I would have certainly come to blows with him!

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Keventer's nearby looks inviting, and the sit-out on the first floor verandah gives us a great view all around. For the committed non-vegetarians among you, there's no place like Keventer's to eat to your heart's content. Artery-clogging, VLDL-rich, super-high-protein, and totally anti-medical-advice, but could you possibly have such a full non-veg lunch for 5 people for Rs.700 (including an ultra-strong flavourfully large pot of coffee) anywhere else? Enjoy the view...
You should have tried the farmer's breakfast at Keventers. 6 (SIX) different types of non veg, double eggs, juice, mashed potatoes, toast, coffee - ohhhh! sheer bliss! Used to come for Rs 350 per head 11 years ago.

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The Batasia loop with its Gorkha Memorial is also a market more than a memorial,
Dada, AFAIK, thats not the Batasia loop. The actual Batasia loop is altogether a wider, semi-circular turn where rail track and road take a turn simultaneously.
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Old 14th April 2010, 13:28   #158
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Awesome travelogue as usual, dada. Your eye for detail and wonderful narration make me feel I'm right there.

Your best one this side of the Thailand travelogue
Thanks, PW. Glad you enjoyed it, but what took you so long to find it?

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And I'm jealous of Bhutanese men. Their women actually do give consent?
Why ask? You want similar consent too?? As your subsequent comment seems to bear out...
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We're contemplating opening a restaurant in Bhutan now!
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I've had this stuff (albeit with a different name) on some high-altitude treks I've gone to. Doesn't taste any good, but keeping one block in the mouth keeps your body surprisingly warm in the bitter cold.
Chhurpi tastes AWFUL to me, but I suppose it's better than having gutkha unlike the habits of people in north and west India...

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...there was no accomodation available anywhere near, in 1999.
Even today there are just 2-3 such trekkers' huts there - mainly occupied by foreigners.
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...Mt Pandim hotel in Pemyangtse. Did you try that one?
No, we just took the one most convenient. But here's a video from the monastery.

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You should have tried the farmer's breakfast at Keventers. 6 (SIX) different types of non veg, double eggs, juice, mashed potatoes, toast, coffee - ohhhh! sheer bliss!
Salami, sausages, bacon, ham, eggs, meat loaf, chicken cutlets, ham sandwiches, coffee... what did we miss? Juice, mashed potatoes and toast - all part of a herbivorous diet! Remember, we were seriously trying to mess up our collective cholesterol levels!

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AFAIK, thats not the Batasia loop. The actual Batasia loop is altogether a wider, semi-circular turn where rail track and road take a turn simultaneously.
The signs said Batasia loop...
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-dsc09697.jpg

We did find this high-speed human knitting machine in the market around the Gorkha memorial.

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Originally Posted by Saurabh M View Post
Thanks for sharing the Darjeeling pics.
With every passing year, Darjeeling is getting so crowded...
You're welcome. Indeed, Darj is perennially crowded nowadays, and the traffic beats that of Borobajar!

Our tea-buying experience at this little shop, accompanied by some excellent conversation with the genial owner, was great - and I can assure you the tea we brought back was of equally excellent quality.

Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-dsc09827k80.jpg

Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-dsc09826k80.jpg

Shall continue with the pics of the last day in a while.
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Old 14th April 2010, 14:08   #159
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Wednesday, 31 March, 2010:

Our last day of the vacation today. And the weather is clear, the skies are an intense blue, with no sign of the clouds, or the torrential rain and storm of last night. The snow-capped peaks are visible in the distance, taunting us to cancel our departure and stay back to enjoy a few more days of idyllic peace.
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-dsc09831k80.jpg
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-dsc09828k80.jpg

But alas! we must leave. My daughter's school opens tomorrow.
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Breakfast deferred till our stop at the Kurseong Tourist Lodge, bags packed and loaded on to the Tavera, we are on our way down.

Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-dsc09837k80.jpg
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-dsc09839k80.jpg
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-dsc09840k80.jpg
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-dsc09843k80.jpg
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-dsc09842k80.jpg

Breakfast at the Kurseong Tourist Lodge comprised... what else?
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-dsc09852k80.jpg

The Lodge is set on the edge of the valley, and we soak in the views across the vista from the dining room.
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Time to move on again, down the Pankhabari Road...
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-dsc09873k80.jpg

...crossing pretty houses on the way...
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-dsc09885k80.jpg

...past densely wooded slopes...
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...and the Makaibari Tea Estate...
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...till we reach the plains...
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-dsc09901k80.jpg
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-dsc09902k80.jpg
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-dsc09903k80.jpg

...and finally the Bagdodgra Airport.
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-dsc09907k80.jpg
Gross Travelling Happiness - Bhutan, Sikkim, Darjeeling-dsc09908k80.jpg

Bagdogra Airport, for the uninitiated, is an airport with an excellent restaurant and a madhouse of a terribly-managed security check system, staffed by boorish, smelly personnel in sweat-stained uniforms which haven't met soap in a week. One scanner for a few hundred passengers, and they want to look at the insides and undersides of your shoes before allowing you in. Takes us 45 minutes of sweating it out in the heat (oh, no, there's no air-conditioning inside either!) before we are certified not to be terrorists.

- T H E E N D -

Last edited by SS-Traveller : 14th April 2010 at 14:15.
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Old 14th April 2010, 14:22   #160
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what an epic I must say you are very good story teller... Another one added in your list and I bet this one will last lifelong...in your memory.
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Old 14th April 2010, 21:04   #161
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Dada, AFAIK, thats not the Batasia loop. The actual Batasia loop is altogether a wider, semi-circular turn where rail track and road take a turn simultaneously.
The road follows the rail line for half a loop. The rail line does, well, a full loop! I personally find the switchbacks (zig zags) more interesting. What if the brakeman can't stop the train?

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Wednesday, 31 March, 2010:

The Lodge is set on the edge of the valley, and we soak in the views across the vista from the dining room.

Attachment 329148
Attachment 329149

Time to move on again, down the Pankhabari Road...
Attachment 329150

...
Bagdogra Airport, for the uninitiated, is an airport with an excellent restaurant and a madhouse of a terribly-managed security check system, staffed by
- T H E E N D -
You missed some lovely walks in Kurseong. At least you could have taken a drive round Dow Hill/ Victoria and the Forest Institute. (And another "secret" - the old military road. )

Prefer Ghoom - Mirik - Matigara to Pankhabari Road.

Bagdogra has perhaps the worst managed security screening system one can think of. So I prefer going in through Bagdogra and out through Guwahati.

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Old 14th April 2010, 23:36   #162
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what an epic I must say you are very good story teller...
Thank you.
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You missed some lovely walks in Kurseong. At least you could have taken a drive round Dow Hill/ Victoria and the Forest Institute. (And another "secret" - the old military road. )
Left some reasons to go back again! Next time, we'll drive down...
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Old 20th April 2010, 07:37   #163
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Default Loop e batash dao

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Thanks, PW. Glad you enjoyed it, but what took you so long to find it?
Mainly the fact that tbhp is now banned in my office , and I come back too late on weekdays to access it.

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Salami, sausages, bacon, ham, eggs, meat loaf, chicken cutlets, ham sandwiches, coffee... what did we miss? Juice, mashed potatoes and toast - all part of a herbivorous diet! Remember, we were seriously trying to mess up our collective cholesterol levels!
Hmm, not much, in that case

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The signs said Batasia loop...
Since we didnt have a pic of Batasia loop in our archives, I fished out one from the net. Notice (as Sutripta says) the road following the rail line for half a loop and then taking a dip. The latter of course, goes on to take a full loop.

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PS: And Dada, my query about Bhutanese wives giving consent was merely a query out of surprise. I have no intention to go through the marriage rigmarole again. As wise Bengali men say, the bald man goes to the Bael tree only once
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Old 20th April 2010, 07:52   #164
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??? Chains ??? Don't get you. Please elaborate.
There're some places where there's a lock kind of stuff between the rails to prevent the rail from going back or some kinda lock. Though I haven't experienced this by myself, atleast, this is what I heard from people who've experienced the ride from Mettupalayam to Connoor. Here's the pic that I found in the web.

Sorry to post late because I haven't had an opportunity to follow up on this as we were enjoying ourselves at Coorg
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Old 20th April 2010, 10:21   #165
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There're some places where there's a lock kind of stuff between the rails to prevent the rail from going back or some kinda lock. Though I haven't experienced this by myself, atleast, this is what I heard from people who've experienced the ride from Mettupalayam to Connoor.

Sorry to post late because I haven't had an opportunity to follow up on this as we were enjoying ourselves at Coorg
The locks are used to change the direction of travel of the train. At places, there are tight corners where the train does not have enough space to turn. The locks are used in such places. Its kind of similar to the line switching mechanism of the Trams in Kolkata, if you are familiar with it.

Does anybody have the experience of travelling the entire route from NJP to Darjeeling by train? Did you like it? I had the opportunity to do it once.
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