We decided to go further on our journey without being intimidated by earthquake and reached the Taxi Stand for Gangtok on next morning. The stands looked like
There is this ticket booth where you can go and reserve your seat, get a receipt stating the time of departure, cab registration number, seat number, amount paid, date of journey etc. One can also book these cabs in advance. Time of departure is a tricky thing as cab does not leave as far as it does not get it share of passengers which is 10 passenger excluding driver. You are made to sit in 2 (front)+4 (middle) +4 ( back) fashion in TATA Sumo or Mahindra Bolero SUVs. ( Similar like Siliguri to Darjeeling)
You can expect to struggle for your space as these vehicle are normally designed for 1+3+3 pattern but these taxi operators has their own rules so either you can buy a extra seat or you have to go with what they say. We were supposed to leave Darjeeling by 10:30am as per our ticket but it only started around 11.20am
You are suggested to make good conversations with your fellow passengers as it help to be little less uncomfortable during almost 5 hour journey. If you have foreigners in the same cab you can expected to spend more time at Border of West Bengal and Sikkim where foreigners have to show their papers which can take any where between 15 minutes to half an hour.
During our time in this region it was raining almost every day and this day was not any exception. The journey happens to be pleasant ( I am not counting the seating arrangement part anymore) and if you are an observer you can spot many changes coming in your vicinity ranging from Registration Plates of the vehicles to the way drivers behave, the food, atmospheric temperature, chill in air etc.
We had some Israeli people along with an Indian Army personal who was going back his post and a cute local lady who offered us ( all 10 people) locally made delicious cup cakes. We talked to people there during that time and it help to gain some information and some perspective about the region and how to go further in addition to our own home work, of course.
We reached Gangtok in evening amidst rains and deboarded the cab at Taxi Stand roughly ( 3kms by road, 1.5kms by pedestrian path) from the famous Mall Road of Gangtok. We took a taxi to reach Mall Road which took hardly 10-15minutes to drop us at the destination.
We checked in a hotel right away to put our belongings ( back packs etc.) so that we can walk a little to find out the next days itinerary. We had to do so many things…Only if we knew the future….
We walked down the Mall Road and talked to some of the travel agents for to go for Lachen, La chung ( which happens to be in North Sikkim) etc. After going around for almost 2hours we finalised one of the travel agency to go with.
Here the point to note is you can craft the itinarary as you want it to be which can cost you lot more then standard off the shelf available routes. The standard routes covers the main places but you might feel lack of time to enjoy all of it.
Finally, we had dinner which was followed by fabulous performance of a band in local restaurant. I felt its worth it…..
To know about Northern Sikkim read more
Planning & Research Courtesy: Insignia