Bhutan and Sikkim

Led by Don Walter
Tour dates: 03 to 21 October 2007.
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15 Oct

Our day started with a visit to the Tashi Tok viewpoint. Unfortunately it was rather cloudy.
Jackie and Peter tried to help us comprehend the view we were missing.

We continued from the viewpoint by walking along the "by-pass". This seemed to be an unsurfaced track in the process of construction.
Here is an interesting piece of civil engineering - stabilisation of landslips by means of prayer flags! (I don't think this one is covered at Loughborough University, where I used to lecture).

Two-person shovelling is better known worldwide. One holds the shovel and the other pulls on a rope.
Not sure what the other four are doing!

Gangs of ladies break the rocks into smaller graded pieces.
Presumably these are then put in place one at a time.

The local water treatment plant scores highly for aesthetics.

More soil stabilisation by prayer flag.
Enlarge to read the text of the prayers.

By now we had got as far as the Zoological Gardens.
Here is a Himalayan Bear being friendly.

The leopard was less matey.

The Palm Civets were the most sociable.

16 Oct

A last breakfast in Gangtok. Surely one of the best views from a hotel table?
Today we were off to Kalimpong in West Bengal.

We had to cross the Sikkim to West Bengal border again. It took nearly an hour.
I wandered up the street taking photos. These vehicles are the local transport. Each displays a destination board and it will stand around until there are enough passengers to make it worth while to set off.

As usual, all the roads are cut into steep mountainsides.
As usual, road maintenance is a running battle as bits of mountain slip downwards.

We arrived at the Himalayan Hotel in Kalimpong by 12:30. The dining room has an old-colonial air to it. The rooms are delightful, with both conservatory-style and closed-in sitting areas with each bedroom.

Our afternoon tour included a garden centre, a school and a viewpoint.
Growing house plants is an important local industry and they produce lots of ornamental cactus plants.


We also visited the Charpa Tholing Monastery.
One of the few that permit photography in the temple.

17 Oct

We had a pleasant stroll today. Traversing out along the hillside and returning via lower paths and roads. It was a good chance to inspect local life at close quarters.
These two ladies were out for a stroll with the children.

In the trees were moths of the most unusual colour.

This guy was having a hard time of it though.

18 Oct

Off at 7 for a drive to Bagdogera Airport.
We stopped at a garage for light relief. The facilities included a set of "how to do it" diagrams.

Initially we travelled on hill roads....

....and later on the plain.
Driving is definitely free-style in these parts.

The flight set off in the "wrong" direction, but we worked out there was an intermediate stop. Then we flew to Delhi past huge Himalayan peaks.
Finally we arrived at the Park Hotel in Delhi at about 18:30

19 Oct

We opted for a tour of Delhi, arranged by the local tour company. In Old Delhi we visited the Masjid-i-Jahan Numa (mosque).
Then we went for a rickshaw ride.

This proved to be a good and relaxing way to watch city life in progress.

Later we went to an up-market tourist shop. I embarrassed myself by tendering 700 rupees for a 7,000 rupee trinket.
I did not buy it and I was later offered a similar article by a street seller, who came down from 200 to 100 rupees in an attempt to get me to buy it.

Quite late in the day we went to the Qutab Minar - a sandstone tower nearly 100m tall.

We returned to New Delhi as the light was fading and had a quick look at the formal centre of town.

Avoiding miscellaneous traffic as we took our photos.

20 Oct

After a tidy-up and shower at the hotel then a final dinner, we went to the airport for a takeoff at about 3am to start our journey home.

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