November 03, 2010

On Gangtok

Rescheduling travel plans has its good side and bad side, as most choices made after a couple of Jim Beam shots. Originally, this was planned as a trip to Sikkim, with a short beginning holiday to Darjeeling. Then, life happened. An opportunity presented itself to us when there were warnings of landslides in Sikkim and I decided to stay longer in Darjeeling. But changes to a plan are much more than a pleasant phone call to different hotels in Gangtok, asking for a vacant room. It is truly a pain, but I am of the certainty that it is well worth it.

After something like four hours of periodically interrupted sleep in one of Darjeeling’s most accessible modes of transportation – the taxi, I reached the hotel in Gangtok. It was the front desk, informing me that they would arrange for all necessary papers and permits for my travel to the beautiful Changu Lake and the Nathula Pass (the trading post between India and China). May God bless them, for pretending to give me time to get back to them and being so nice about it. The hotel belonged to a friend’s friend so they quoted about 1200/- per night (from the usual 2,500). I took it. The room was lovely and the view spectacular. It could have been a lot worse, the rooms could have been unavailable or the new rate (season time) could have been astronomical. The hotel was situated 2 minutes away from M.G Road and is highly rated as one of the best in Gangtok.


The city’s dining options are similarly impressive. Allen’s Kitchen, as I would find out later, is one of the popular restaurants in Gangtok. The food was some of the best I’d had all trip.


From there, I took off to drive around Gangtok, to see my friend’s school, the Tsuklakhang Palace and Monastery, various view-points and then back into the city to get ready for the evening out. If ever there was an almost instant way to fall madly in love with Gangtok, it is to walk it, sans map, just losing yourself in the area.

The nightlife in Gangtok is exactly what we needed to fall for the city. Little Italy was easy to like at first sight with its bohemian interiors and crowd.


And when they say the restaurants close early in Gangtok, it just means they won’t have tables available after that time.


From there, I went to Café Live and Loud to discover a new brand of fabulous. With flashing lights and a crowded bar, which we were told is the most popular club in the city, was packed with friendly people, all drinking, all singing along to a number of familiar songs performed by the band Route 66. You should know that by familiar I’m talking specifically about the following songs: Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door, Layla and finally, and perhaps most importantly, Wild World, dedicated to yours truly.

And to end my trip in Gangtok, I went to a club called Orange, which was quite far from the city. This place was underground and filled up fast, and by filled up, I mean there was not a single inch of floor on which to stand and with only two bartenders the wait time between drinks became significant. It was around the time that we decided to dance that the DJ announced the last song was playing. Pfffft! But I will be back. Absolutely.

I had fun, unabashed fun. It was one of those trips I will be saying to my friends, “Remember when we were in Gangtok and…” for quite some time.

For those of you who frequent these pages you’ll notice something odd about this post. I literally never post videos, ever. But this performance by the band Route 66 was awesome enough and the recording is interesting enough that I thought today I would make an exception. The song is ‘Layla’. So how could I refuse to post this video? It’s shot with my phone camera in Café Live n Loud in Gangtok (Sikkim) …it turned out pretty okay I think.

video