Bhutan and Sikkim

Led by Don Walter
Tour dates: 03 to 21 October 2007.
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11 Oct (Cont.)

We walked back down from Tiger Hill to Ghoom, where we saw the Toy Train once more.

On the outskirts of Ghoom is the Yiga Chholing Monastery. We walked there for a visit before coming back to Ghoom to walk a mountainside track back to Darjeeling. There is a useful link to extra pictures of this monastery.

On leaving Ghoom we walked along a track back to Darjeeling.
This is one of the houses alongside the track.

At intervals there were taps at the side of the track.
It seemed that this was where most of the locals did their washing.

As we approached Darjeeling the view gives a good impression of the steep slopes on which the local towns are built.

This is a photo of Joan looking at ponies stabled in Darjeeling, taken just before someone rushed up to try and rent her a pony.

Back to our nice hotel again for a quiet afternoon - making up for our 3:30am start today.

12 Oct

Today was spent travelling on from Darjeeling to Gangtok. Not a vast distance, but hill roads are difficult. We broke the journey by a visit to an infants school in one of the villages.

Later we needed to cross the border from West Bengal to Sikkim. We did this at Rangpo where we had nearly an hour to kill while papers were processed. I took a few photos of everyday scenes like this typically decorated local lorry. We finally reached our hotel at Gangtok after nightfall.

13 Oct

Our first visit of the day was to the Enchay Monastery at the top end of Gangtok (it slopes a lot!). As we walked up to the monastery we were able to have a quick look at the accommodation provided for the youngest monks.
They still look like ordinary small boys though.

It doesn't look too bad a life.

There are some chores involved.... this preparation of ceremonial rice cakes.

Future prospects for a quiet life look good.

This is the temple of the Enchay Monastery. We were very lucky and were present during a prayer meeting with chants, gongs, shell trumpets and long horns.
It was a super experience for us!

Afterwards this was the way back down, with plenty of prayer wheels to spin as you pass by.

We returned to the hotel for lunch and afterwards went down the hillside to visit an area of smallholdings and modest houses.
Our hotel was at the lower end of Gangtok, so it was not far to walk.

Local people were very friendly and let us enter houses and take photos.

They were also quite happy to be photographed.

The younger ones seemed to especially enjoy it.

One lady made tea for the whole of our group: no mean feat!
Here are the children of the house.

14 Oct

Today we had a 24km drive to visit the Rumtek Monastery.
These are not the usual photos: they show the area where the monks live.

Here are more conventional views....
Monks spilling out of the temple as a prayer session finishes.

There is plenty to see around this large monastery.

Here is one of the murals.

Here is a stop on the return drive to talk about the colour of the rice terraces.
They go a golden colour as they ripen.

Back at the edge of Gangtok we visited the Do Drul Chorten (aka Dodrul).
A dramatic sight.

Nearby some turn prayer wheels...
Others work.

We were back to the hotel fairly early.
A visit to the major local market was possible.

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