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My Trip To Sikkim

by Forest Ang

Week Two

10 Nov 1995 Friday
It was raining the whole day. So we decide to stay at Phedang. The morning was quite a view. The patches of paddles turned into ice. There were snowcapped mountains everywhere. But it rained and rained again and again. We had to keep ourselves in door. In the evening, a group of trekkers came down from Dzongri in the rain. They asked for hot drinks and the heat from the kitchen. There were some arguing between our guides and the other party. Read the story on “life was cheap”. The other group then decided to proceed down to Tsoka. We later learned that a guide from the other group was in terrible coldness and he needed a place to put up. He died on his way down about 15 minutes from our Phedang’s cozy corner. We were indeed very sad and angry for not being able to help a dying man in the mountain.

11 Nov 1995 Saturday
At Phedang the weather turned for the best. It was a beautiful sunny day. I can see snow capped mountains with creamy white. A view I shall never forget. We left Phedang at 8.40 am. There was no snow on the ground when we started from Phedang. After 20 minutes of our journey little pockets of snow can be found here and there. I started to play with it like a child. I took lots of photographs (in slides & would hope to convert them into digital images if given a chance). More snow appeared as we ascended. And as we climbed up onto a plateau, it was here the full view of a snow covered ground greeted us. Of course we played again. I made snow balls to throw at Beng Teong. I tried sitting on the snow. Putting my face on the ground to cool my warm face. Later, we passed through a small frozen lake.
We eventually reached Dzongri (almost the high of Mt Kinabalu, the highest mountain in South East Asia) at 11.40 am. Snow was everywhere. The scenery was great. It was terribly cold. I had to sleep with seven shirts and jackets.
We had some high attitude sickness. At night most of us had breathing difficulty. Occasionally we had to lean up to grasp some fresh air. Carrie had swollen face. A dangerous condition of high attitude sickness in which fluid might affect the organs. And of course we suffered from lack of food.

12 Nov 1995 Sunday
Clear sky and it will be the same for the whole of our trekking back. I took lots of pictures. In the morning, we went up to Dzongri-la (Dzongri pass) to see the rising sun. It was a dangerous climb up with hard snow and slippery shoes. Many shots were taken. The wind on top the ridge also made our toes numb. That day, Phoe Toe and the chief guide (called Amor) went for a day trip to see another lake. He was the guy that can withstand cold. He only wore a shirt and a jacket for the climb. We enjoyed taking photographs the whole day at our trekkers hut.

13 Nov 1995 Monday
We left Dzongri at 9.00 am. Snow had started to melt. Brown grasses and shrubs appeared exposed after the snow had melted. We were walking on slippery ice. With the heat from the sun, water and mud were everywhere. Our shoes were soaked with water.
It was a beautiful scene and good photography sessions again. By the time we reached Phedang there was no more snow. We reached Tsoka at 2.00 pm. Surrounded by beautiful snow capped mountains and fresh cool wind, we really enjoyed our stay there, if not for the food.

14 Nov 1995 Tuesday
We continued to stay at Tsoka for the second night. We had two successive evening watching the red capped mountains.
A group of about 100 youths were making the ascend. I was told they were training under the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute of Darjeeling.
A couple of Mat Sallehs were camping behind our hostel.
There were no fertilizer being used as it will be costly to get them as well as costly to transport them to this high. The farmers burnt bushes and firewood to replenish the soil with nutrient. However, this burning of wood did affect the smoky atmosphere at the highland. The gashing wind however blown it away within minutes. The effect will only be felt by people down below the mountains.

15 Nov 1995 Wednesday
We left Tsoka at 8.00 am. Our journey was routine. We were trekking on our own most of the time. The guide did not bother to boil any water and unseen by us, refilled Hum’s water bottle with water from the river. We knew the water was from the river as it was freezing cold. We were glad to reach Yuksom in one piece.
As we were back at Yuksom, we saw the guides unloading bags of canned food from the djos. They were distributed among the guides. We felt cheated being fed with a fraction of the food ration. For your information, we paid about US$700 per person for a week trip! This was the most expensive cost for our whole month stay in India.
Our guides took us to a village house and treat us to a thanksgiving ceremony of local wine drinking. I took a sip. It was a horrible drink. We were each given a good luck cloth for our journey home.

16 Nov 1995 Thursday
We left Yuksom on a jeep at 8.15 am and arrived at Khachodpulri (The Holy Lake) at 10.00 am. We reached Pemanyantse Monastry at 12 noon. It was an ancient monastry with many old art and crafts. We continued our journey to Gayzing. Here we stayed at Hotel Kanchanjuga for Rs250 per room.

17 Nov 1995 Friday
The next morning we left Gayzing to Darjeeling. We crossed Joethang Bridge, a big and beautiful bridge spanning 158 m and 750 m carriageway. We used a short cut to Darjeeling from Joethang (25km) North Point passing through Singla Tea Estate. As we were driven up the mountain side, the view of the valley below was superb. The river from the mountains of Dzongri flowed through the plain below. It flowed through the plain of Calcutta where the river water will be use over again and again.
Being a Marxist community, the Singla Tea Estate has a community baby-sitter. Here, we found dozens of babies sleeping on the hanging bed while their mothers were picking tea leaves. In the evening, we arrived at Darjeeling and stayed at Prestige Hotel.

Continue Week Three

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