In which Aditrupz go for the Goecha la trek in Sikkim, part 1/3

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I remember quite distinctly, it was in June of 2017, I was discussing our annual vacation plans and the topic of the Goecha la trek in Sikkim came up. Adi and I had already agreed that this year the vacation was going to be in India, after last year’s Turkey trip! I was stumped when he said, ” We should go for a trek to Sikkim!”. I was in no shape physically or mentally to endure this and sleeping in tents didn’t really sound like a vacation. But he was hell-bent. The word spread and Prajwalit and Bhargava also decided to join us. I was still unsure but in about a month or so, preparations for the trek began. The boys did all the bookings and planning and I watched all the possible YouTube videos to get as familiar as possible with the trek route and trying to gauge the difficulty and what I would possibly endure.

Recommended to read: https://blawghh.com/in-which-trupz-says-travel-helps-builds-character/

What is so special about the Goecha la trek in Sikkim?

The Goecha La trek in Sikkim, India is known to be a picturesque trek through the Khangchendzonga National park.. The highlight of the trek being the grand views of Mount Kanchendzonga from Dzongri top and viewpoint 1 of the Goecha Pass. Apart from this, you get to walk in the Rhododendron forests of Phedang. The great Himalayan plains of Thansing and Lamuney. Another beautiful attraction on this trek is the Samiti lake which is a glacial lake. Let me break it here itself, the websites say Geocha La is a Moderate – Difficult level trek, for the most part, it is difficult, especially if you are going in the winter season like we did! This trek gets you closest you can to view Mount Kanchendzonga from the Indian side.

Goecha la trek in Sikkim | View of Mount Khangchendzonga en route Kokchurang

View of Mount Khangchendzonga en route Kokchurang

If you are loving the photos, you will love the video blawghh series of the  Goecha la trek in Sikkim 2017 on Youtube 

What are the essential things to pack for the Goecha la trek?

Goecha la trek Sikkim | Essential things to pack for Himalayan winter trek

Goecha la trek in Sikkim| Essential things to pack for any Himalayan winter trek

  1. Rain jacket
  2. Poncho
  3. Fleece jacket thin
  4. 2 walking sticks
  5. 1 pair of gloves
  6. 1 Balaclava, very useful in protecting ears and neck from sun and wind!
  7. 1 woolen cap
  8. 3 pairs of quick dry trekking pants (full length)
  9. 3 quick dry t-shirts (full sleeves)
  10. 1 pair of thermals
  11. Dry fruits
  12. 6 energy bars
  13. 2 rolls of tissue papers
  14. UV protected sunglasses
  15. Essential medicines
  16. 2 pairs of cotton socks
  17. 2 pairs of woolen socks
  18. 1 torch
  19. 1 headlamp ( i recommend this since it leaves your hands free for using walking sticks)
  20. 2  one liter water bottles
  21. 55-liter backpack
  22. 15-liter daypack
  23. Sunscreen, moisturizer, lip balm other toiletries
  24. Good fitting trekking shoes
  25. 1 pack of Wet wipes

There is a list compiled here by the good folks at IndiaHikes which I used as a reference packing for this trek

The idea is to travel light with basic and important necessities. Also you have to be comfortable with the fact that you may not get a chance to bathe, so carry wet wipes and use them frugally.

Goecha la trek day 0 – Pune – Delhi – Bagdogra – New Jalpaiguri

October 20th was the day, Diwali was just over and we set out for our first pitstop to New Jalpaiguri. Prajwalit, Adityo and I left from Pune to Delhi in the early hours of the morning. Bhargava would join us in Delhi from Hyderabad. He made it on time and after a quick lunch, it was time for our 2-hour flight to Bagdogra in West Bengal. Our stay for the night was in the city of New Jalpaiguri(NJP). The Kali Puja was just over, but some of the pandal decorations were still around. We didn’t have a lot of time to explore NJP and we were only there for one night. We walked around the street a bit to find some lunch. We had some “Aloo Panner” which was delicious along with some really hot chapati. Then we all napped a bit for some much-needed rest. The evening was uneventful, a small stroll down for some tea and we retired for the night. Before that, we got confirmation that the car, that was to take us to Yuksam will arrive the next day at 6.30 am.

Goecha la trek day 1 – NJP – Legship – Yuksam

Our sacks were packed up, day packs had now come out. The light cotton clothes were lined with thin fleeces. It was now time to cross over from the outskirts of West Bengal into the lush greenery of Sikkim with the Teesta river for the company for most of the way. We would be passing through the towns of Legship, Jorthang, Gyalshing. The total journey time would be about 7 – 8 hours not including breaks along the way, We had ordered some early breakfast but were surprised to find out that apart from tea not much can be available. So we decided to eat something along the way to Yuksam. The car arrived to pick us up on time, it wasn’t the most comfortable looking vehicle. It was an old jeep with no bucket seats. Assuming hilly and winding roads ahead, we all knew that it wasn’t our most preferred choice of transport but we had to make a start to the trip and getting to Yuksam was more important, so we took the risk.

New Jalpaiguri is very close to the border of West Bengal and Sikkim. We would be crossing over into Sikkim near a place called Melli. Our first halt was near Lohapul at Mama Hotel. “Luchi” which is Bengali means Puri and Aloo bhaji were devoured here, along with some yummy Aloo Parantha with pickle, and of course some much needed ‘Chai’.

Where can you have breakfast en route to Yuksam from NJP?

Breakfast at Mama Hotel, Loha Pul, Darjeeling, West Bengal 734008. Tel: 076024 36384

The happy trekkers with their tummies full, now made their way to Melli. The crossover at Melli was easy, the driver had the required papers and our backpacks did the remaining. As soon as we entered Sikkim, the landscape changed, the roads were winding and narrow with lush green forests all around. Although a very small state, it is important o know that 35% of Sikkim is covered by KhanchenDzonga National Park. Even though you are in a vehicle, you have to cross between valleys to get to Yuksam. There are single lane metal bridges that are built over the river that help you cross. The rattling of the bridge decks and the fact that you are about 500ft above a glacial river make it a very exciting drive. We could see the impact of an increase in tourism here, next to the single lane metal bridge a two-way concrete bridge is being built.

A couple of hours of driving and it was almost time for lunch. The driver recommended we should wait at Gurung, Hotel at Legship for lunch and took us to this lovely homely food place. the lady serving told us that they are serving organic food and even the chicken served there is organic! The boys continued their vegetarian streak and we got served with some piping hot dal, rice, vegetables and the red chilly pickle or the “Dalle”. The ambiance at the Gurung Hotel was homely and the food was delicious, Adityo surprised himself with the ‘Dalle” when he mistook that for a cherry tomato and attempted to eat the whole of it. We all teared up, the 3 of us thanks to how hilarious his situation was and Adityo because he seemed to have become a fire-spouting dragon!

Where can you have lunch en route to Yuksam from NJP?

Lunch at Gurung Hotel: Legship, Sikkim 737111. Tel: 081458 94311

The remaining journey was uneventful until we saw a road sign that said “Yuksam 10km”, we started making calls to Mr. Gurung who was a trek co-ordinator to locate the guest house. We had booked the Geocha la trek in Sikkim via Thrillophilia who then helped us find the Red Panda Tours and Travels, our local guides in Yuksam. Its only after reaching the village of Yuksam did we realize how big the village is! There is only 1 main road that runs through the entire village and all the hotels, homestays are all along this road. In the middle of the main road is the infamous main market area that has a couple of shops selling trekking gear and winter gear. “Gupta’s restaurant” is the most significant landmark on this road. It seems like in Yuksam, the world converges at Gupta’s. As Yuksam is the base village for many treks in this region, you get to meet and interact with a lot of other trekkers here. Also, Gupta’s serve amazing food and is open until late.

So after checking into our guest house, we made it to Gupta’s. The climate was beautiful, perfectly chilly and clean mountain air, we decided to walk around and explore the village. Our appetites were worked up so we ordered some Chowmein. We had 2 days in Yuksam, since we were informed that there will be another group of 4 people from Bangalore who would join us the next day. This meant that we could explore some more place in Yuksam.

More to come of the adventurous trek of Goecha la, which by the way has not even begun yet! In the meantime feast your eyes with some photos

What are the top 5 interesting places to visit in Yuksam?

1. Kartok Lake

Blawghh | Goecha la trek in Sikkim | Kartok lake, Yuksam

Kartok lake

2.Coronation Throne Of Norbugang

Blawghh | Goecha la trek in Sikkim | Coronation throne, Yuksam

Coronation Throne, Norbugang

3. Dubdi Monastery

Goecha la trek in Sikkim | Yuksom Dubdi Gompa
PC Kothanda SrinivasanFlickr, CC BY 2.0, Link

4. Khangchendzonga National park

Blawghh | Goecha la trek in Sikkim | Khangchendzonga National park, Yuksam

Khangchendzonga National park

5. Gupta Restaurant

Blawghh | Goecha la trek Sikkim | Gupta restaurant Yuksam

PC Nilabh Singh

Youtube | Goecha La Trek 2017 | Himalayan Trek | Video Blawghh Full HD Part 1

Youtube | Goecha La Trek 2017 | Himalayan Trek | Video Blawghh Full HD Part 2

In which Trupz says Welcome to my world – Pune

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There was a time, when daily hustle bustle of the big city, engulfed life. There were timings to be kept for waking up and dozing off, alarm clocks were matched to train station timings, and 5 minutes here and there would mean losing out your favorite seat. These were small things that mattered so much; that simply being out in the morning to breathe some fresh air seemed like some sort of a luxury. All exercise and catching of breath happened either running for the bus or rushing to the train. Climbing up and down the foot over bridge and jostling the crowd was daily massage I did not sign up for. Thats life in the fast lane in Mumbai for you. Long train travel across suburban Mumbai to reach work and even longer queues for buses and auto rickshaws to get back home. At a mere 28 years i was already exhausted. Unable to give enough time to family, unable to maintain a social life and more importantly unable to give time to myself.

Then life took a turn for the better, the start-up AD was working for decided to move to Pune! Initially it spelt disaster for me, my company had no offices in Pune and how long AD decided to stay there was unclear, whether this was permanent move, would that mean changing jobs for me – all the balls were in the air and I could not afford to drop even one. I decided to stay back in Mumbai initially. The logistics had to be sorted out about this whole Pune move, career wise, finance wise and obviously family wise. Both our parents were extremely supportive, having been through such times themselves they understood my concerns and his desire to take some risks and backed us. The job hunt for me in Pune was not very promising, with the recession etc and most companies on backfoot for hiring. Moving from Mumbai was just not an option. A very informal discussion with my manager led to a solution I had not dreamed of. The company would allow me to work from home, as long as all working criteria were met and the work did not suffer. I would need to travel to Mumbai as when required. All in all it meant a green signal for me to move to Pune, and a very unpleasant 3 months of separation would come to an end.

Home Sweet Home

In all this time, I managed only 3 trips to Pune, and was impressed with what i saw. It was just like any other emerging metropolis. My image of a sleepy old town, with very typical Puneri folk was wiped out in an instant. My first travel to Pune landed me directly into Kalyani Nagar – skim past this area and you are reminded of South Mumbai in an instant. A very upcoming and developing suburb, it took to my liking instantly and we decided our next abode would definitely be in this area. Limited with our finances, we settled for a 1BHK flat in an old society – but it had a vantage point. The location was superb, literally stones throw away from the Mall and multiplexes, biggest restaurant in area was across the street, all consumables were at arms length and everything else only at walkable distance. My initial grimace for not finding a house with a view disappeared within days when I figured out what advantages the house had ;P.

Silhouette – kalyani nagar backdrop of a sunset

Life began slow here, we arrived with bare minimum furniture, just enough things to survive. Most of what were needed laptops, books, Television, mattress, cupboards and gas stove. Thats it I thought to myself, the first night i closed my eyes – this will be home. I had taken a couple of days off just to set up everything in the new house. Cleaning up, unpacking, cooking it all had to be fitted in while managing work. With travel out of picture I suddenly had more time on my hand, so I cooked regularly. Exploring the new living area was a lot of fun too – but auto rickshaw meters in Pune were running faster than my heartbeat, so i took to walking around, it is best way of exploring the place :). Acclimatizing to neighbourhoods like Koregaon park and its numerous lanes, the camp area and of course the  temptations of the malls, purchasing new tid bits for home, my time was consumed by these. My now broken camera along with me walked many a sultry evening absorbing Pune. The setting sun shedding light on new avenues in life.

AD took me to office one day, I took to liking his colleagues immediately, some I had met before in Cleartrip and some I met for first time. They have a very close bonding, dinners at our place and hanging out became part of many a evenings. His boss did not mind me working out of their office too, they had enough space to lend me a table which was a very friendly gesture. Someday’s working alone from home often made me quite lonely. I had begun to miss the whole work atmosphere, fun with colleagues and office outings etc. Chai and coffee breaks were too by myself and not very enjoyable. Soon working out of AD’s office became a regular thing, atleast once a week, as on Thursday there was a power outage for more than 6 – 7 hours. I did not miss my own office so much then, as we went out for lunch with his office folk and there was always some or the other happening there to keep me entertained. Watching them work from sidelines, often gave me a kick too. In  their initial days I did pull an all nighter with them a couple of times. Pizzas and Red Bulls were great companions then.

Fun times at IB

Soon after we moved here, a few other friends from Mumbai also did – they too decided to set shop here and I began to miss Mumbai a lot less. Pune is traveller’s paradise, except for a brief spell in Summer, you can travel around through out the year. There are forts, hill stations all which are within reach of Pune. City is decorated with historical monuments from Shivaji’s times. Our first travel was to temple at Parvati. Then venturing out to Sinhagad, Aga Khan Palace, Panshet, Kamshet lakes and Pavana Dam. I had always pestered AD for not being able to trek, but we got an opportunity after coming to Pune, Quasi planned out a 4 day trek to Harishchandragad and before that I managed a trek by myself with ShikharVedh gang to Tornagad. The travel to office was limited to 5 Km for AD, he took to cycling there, the spell lasted a good few months till monsoon set in. Rains in Pune are wonderful, the place completely transpires into a green blanket and weather is nothing short of European romance.

The Naka Boys re-unite

Many people had warned me of how I would not be able to fit in and be out of place, and how Pune does not offer a social life, but it all proved wrong. Pune has some of the best eating joints, from the very Puneri Shreyas on Apte Road to Bedekar misal. A wide variety of Parsi food from Dorabjees to Zamu’s. Koregain Park is filled with little gems of places with the most surprising cousine – Our favorite has been Arthurs theme and Tertulia’s. Not to mention the little micro brewery which makes a lot of noise on social circuit called Doolally’s. Never did i get a chance to enjoy such a variety in such a short span of time. FC road and JM roads are a foodies haven, with popular joints like Vaishali and Good Luck Cafe to gorge at.

Fields of Good

On of the best things to have happened is that I got back to my hobbies, writing and photography. The more we traveled the more stories there were to tell.  Desire and passion to write were back and i was slowly mastering the art of photography. I got active on twitter and made some very nice twitter pals- it was a totally new experience of socializing. Suddenly I did not feel so exhausted, there was always something that kept me busy. While all this was happening, work kept its pace up and did not hamper career front, I got my promotion and my raise and things were looking good. Friends kept visiting and so did family. The home began to take shape as more and more “things” came into the house. Walls got photo frames and shelves,mattress got a new bed, windows got new curtains, the cycle is now replaced by a motorbike and life as we knew it changed for the better.

We still visit Mumbai often, but we long to be back in Pune. The city has taken my heart and Home is where the Heart is ….. We both are still pursuing our dreams and desires, and working equally hard to fulfill them. But in the midst of all this, life in Pune has given us that little cocoon to take a breather once in a while and I still have some time left to LIVE a little bit more.