Prologue : The trip was coming to end with the last leg of our trip, Exploring Borong via Ravangla and Namchi after Exploring West Sikkim – Kaluk – Pelling. We had 1 more day left and after that, this tour would come to end and we have to return to scorching heat of Kolkata. Though we still had a bit of excitement left in us, as Borong was new for all of us and being an offbeat destination to Ravangla and Namchi. I had heard a lot about Borong and thus I selected the place over Ravangla and Namchi.
Here’s the itenary again, for your reference
Day 1 : NJP to Okhrey. O/N at Okhrey.
Day 2 : Okhrey to Hilley and Trek through Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary. O/N at Barsey.
Day 3 : Barsey to Hilley and move to Kaluk via Rinchenpong. O/N at Kaluk.
Day 4 : Kaluk to Pelling via Hee, Bermiok, Chaya Taal, Dentam and Uttarey. O/N at Pelling.
Day 5 : Pelling Sightseeing and Day Trip to Yuksom.
Day 6 : Pelling to Borong via Ravangla.
Day 7 : Borong to NJP via Namchi.
19th April 2016 – Day 6 : Pelling to Borong via Ravangla :
Today our plan was to visit Pemayangtse Monastery and Rabdentse Ruins that we missed yesterday due to getting late and heavy rain and then move on to our last destination for the tour, Borong via sightseeing at Ravangla. The day started with great surprise, when the manager of Pachu Residency, Mr. Prantik woke us up in the morning at 5 o’ clock. Due to heavy rainfall since last 2 days cleared out all the clouds and it helped the splendid almighty Mt. K to appear with a clear view. Well, finally God didn’t upset us. This was the last day we could have get a view of Mt. K. If we had missed it today, we would have missed Mt. K for this of our whole trip. We were like chasing Mt. K for a glimpse since we started our tour.
Due to Mr. Prantik waking us up, we were in time today. We promptly started at 9:30 AM in the morning after bidding good bye to Mr. Prantik. Mr. Prantik is a very nice person and always helped us in the time of need in these span of 2 days stay. After having a light breakfast at Havmore we went to our first destination for the day, Pemayangtse Monastery, which was just a 10 minutes drive from Upper Pelling. We had to buy 6 entry tickets costing Rs. 20/- each. The monastery was really big than we thought of it preliminary. It took us around half an hour to check in and out of the same.
At around 10:25 AM we started for Rabdentse Ruins. Rabdentse Ruins was 5 minutes drive from Pemayangtse Monastery. Infact one can get a bird’s eye view of Rabdentse Ruins from Pemayangtse Monastery. Gopi intimidated us that, one would have to walk for around 30 – 45 minutes to reach Rabdentse Ruins but the route is not stiff climb.
It took us around 2 hours to explore Rabdentse. Though it doesn’t take much time, but Avik being interest in bird photography, and Dipannita being budding bird photographer, took much of the time en-route. Finally we started for Ravangla at around 12:30 PM. Almost everyone slept throughout the route except Me and Suparna. Gopi stopped at a small food joint for our lunch at Ravangla at around 2:30 PM. Then we explored the bazaar and bought few souvenirs for our families back in Kolkata. We started from Ravangla at around 4 o’ clock and it took us around 15 minutes to reach our next sightseeing destination Buddha Park which is actually known as Tathangata Tsal. Due to shortage of time, we didn’t enter the park, as we could easily enjoy the view from the road.
Finally Gopi drove us to our last sightseeing destination for the day, Ralong Monastery. This was the first Monastery which allowed us to click pictures inside the temple.
We started from Ralong Monastery at around 5:35 and within an half an hours drive we reached the destination for the day, Wildflower Retreat at Borong. We had already informed the owner of Wildflower Retreat, Mr. Madhusudhan, while at Pelling about our interest of having a Barbeque. On reaching there, the person in-charge Mr. Dhananjay with his team greeted us and helped us taking our luggage to cottages. We were like Wow!! when we were shown the cottages. The view, the environment, just can’t be described in words. We all exulted with rejoice. Avik and Sushmita felt bit bad that we had kept only one day at such an awesome destination.
Mr. Dhananjay, brought us Tea for the evening. We skipped snacks as we’d have Barbeque any way within some time. Soon they arranged Barbeque and Bonfire near our cottage while we were enjoying a swing nearby within the premises of Wildflower Retreat. Though Barbeque at Borong was not as expected, as they prepare the chicken in kitchen themselves and provide it in hotpot. You can’t technically call it Barbeque, we ignored the same due to the environment. They soon lit up fire and provided the Chicken in hotpot. In the meanwhile we brought our wines that was left. We felt like there’s a mismatch in quantity than what we had ordered. And as they don’t roast it in front of us like you do in Barbeque, we couldn’t tell them anything. Of-course we could have charge them, but there’s no point in going into such discussion at such an remote area, ruining your experience.
Gopi was with us for the evening and we all enjoyed gossiping, dancing and singing amongst ourselves. I must tell at this point that Gopi is an awesome singer. He really have great quality of voice. As the night was coming to end, we all went sad as with the night, our tour was also coming to an end. I hugged Gopi, as his eyes were looking wet and promised him that whenever we’ll plan to come to Sikkim we’ll call him. Mr. Dhananjay called us to have dinner as it was already getting too late.
Ohh my god, when we went to freshen up to our rooms, it was full of insects and the worse scenario was there were various leeches in the floor. We really got afraid and requested Dhananjay to help us out. The girls in our group as well as we too, really got afraid. As we were not accustomed with such situations, we won’t be able to sleep with such fear in our mind. Dhananjay spread out some Salt around the corridors so that we can sleep through night. He explained that it happened due to the rains since last few days.
We have been to Jhallong River Camp twice which is also in forest area, but never faced such situations. I do understand that we’d have not faced such situations if we have came here in Winter. But due to rainy season this can’t be avoided. We locked our rooms and turned off lights before going to restaurant section, as suggested my Mr. Dhananjay as it’d help the insects to go out of the rooms, as mostly they are attracted by the lights. The food was really awesome and all the staffs being Bengali, you’ll have some awesome Bengali dishes. But as soon as we were done with the dinner, we noticed more leeches on the floor of restaurant section. Though we immediately spread out some salt to shoo them away, but the girls in our group got really worried. Even we boys thought, we won’t be able to sleep with such fear in our mind.
We requested Mr. Dhananjay to shift us to the rooms instead of cottage if possible. As there were no other tourists, other than us, we thought he won’t have any problem. After a long discussion, we agreed to shift to rooms paying an extra amount of Rs. 400/- for 3 rooms. The rooms being outside of the forest area, the chance of leech being there is very less. Though I’d really thank them, as they had to shift our luggage from cottages to room at 12 o’ clock in the midnight. Though this was a hassle for them, but they helped us at this point of time. We really couldn’t have slept with such leeches on the floor. And tomorrow we had to make a long journey till NJP via Namchi.
We sighed a breath of relief before going to sleep.
20th April 2016 – Day 7 : Borong to NJP via Namchi :
I woke up with the ringtone of my phone at around 5 o’ clock. First time when it rang I ignored thinking someone is being mischievous at such an woo hour of the morning. But when it rang for second time, I woke up to check who’s calling. It was Avik. I thought why is he calling, while being in the next room to ours. I picked up the call. He explained that Sushmita is suffering from high fever and whether we have any medicines. I quickly went to his room and noticed Dipannita and Avik both sitting beside her. Avik told me that she have taken Calpol at midnight, but that didn’t helped much.
Suparna, always carry a pack of emergency medicines for various medical issues. I woke her up and asked her to check whether she can help. Luckily she was carrying one reputed medicines prescribed by doctors. We then went for a long nap before getting ready. But gradually as the time passed by, there was little or no improvement on Sushmita’s health. Finally we decided to take her to doctors at Ravangla without wasting much time here. As today we had to travel a lot of distance followed by train journey. After having our breakfast and clearing all the bills we left at around 11:27 AM. We explained Gopi, the situation. He informed us that, medical shops here doesn’t have availability of any doctors like in Kolkata. Only place where we can get doctors is at Hospital. It works like these only. For any kind of health issues, people have to go to Govt. Hospital only.
We agreed, as we had no other way. Gopi drove to Ravangla PHC. We had to make a health card in the name of patient which costed us Rs. 10/-. The representative asked us to see doctors. There were not much rush. But one of the doctor informed us that, 12 PM – 1 PM is their lunch time and we have to wait till 1 o’ clock. We knew we were getting late, but we had no other way. Finally, one of the representatives, understating our situation, helped us out. We showed him the medicine we have given in the morning. She approved the same and asked us to continue it. Along with that she provided two more medicines free of cost and prescribed one cough syrup and asked us to get it from medical shop as they were out of stock.
When we asked about the price for the medicines they have given, they said it’s free of cost. We were amazed as well as surprised to hear that. No one in Kolkata, gives away medicines like free of cost. They explained, it works like that only in Govt. Hospitals. And believe me, it was by no way looking like a Govt. Hospital. It was maintained such nicely. We left the PHC, thanking her and the other representative for all the help. Gopi drove us to nearby medical shop from where we got the cough syrup and some cadburys.
We had to give Char Dham and Temi Tea Garden at Namchi a miss as were already running late. And visiting those sightseeing’s would only cost us, missing out the train. Gopi suggested us not to take risk for the day. Though I felt a bit upset, giving it a near miss, but nothing can be done. Afterall it’s an health issue of our friend which is always a priority. We can always plan another trip for Namchi. But taking risk of missing the train is not a good idea at all. Finally we reached Melli at around 3 o’ clock. Gopi parked the car near a Restaurant named “10Zing” for our lunch. Me and Jishnu enjoyed a smoke without any fear of getting caught, what is known as “Sukh Tan” in Bengali, as we had already left Sikkim.
After having our lunch, Gopi drove us to NJP. We all were silent through the route. Even Gopi didn’t played any song today. Maybe he also felt sad. We reached NJP at around 6:30 PM. We hugged Gopi before leaving. Jishnu asked me to tip him Rs. 500/-. But he refused it firmly and said “Agar paisa dena than to dosti kiyun badhaya?” (If you were to trip me, why did you befriend with me). Instead of feeling proud of his words, we felt ashamed, really ashamed, of our behavior. We all hugged him and said sorry for such of our behavior. We noticed tears in his eyes. We were travelling together since last 7 days and we really came close in such short span of time. But of all the situation we had to bid good bye to Gopi and forward towards escalator. Me and Jishnu took the different foot bridge in order to avoid checking as we were carrying alcohol, which is illegal, Sikkim being duty / tax free state.
Soon the feeling of returning to 45 Degree took the smile from our face. I tried remembering the memories of our first day. Wish I could call Gopi and surprise him that we are not going back.
WildFlower Retreat, Borong : It was really an outstanding experience staying at WildFlower Retreat, Borong. It offers great experience with natural touch. Though due to rains, leeches became a problem for us which should not bother you, if you are visiting in Winter. Though the staffs were extremely helpful by shifting us to Rooms instead of cottages at midnight. But I’d suggest to stay away form it during rainy season if you are not accustomed with various insects and leeches. Also there is an handmade paper factory inside the premises where you can experience end to end knowledge of how a paper is made. You can also buy various souvenir made of handmade papers.
WildFlower Retreat : 2900/- (4 Bed Cottage) + 2000 (Double Bed Cottage) = 4900/- + 400 (For Changing Rooms) = 5300/-
Borong being a remote area, you are bound to take food at Resort only. Our food bill came to 3087/-. This includes breakfast, lunch, dinner and uncountable cups of Tea / Cofee for 6 of us and Barbeque with Bonfire which costs 1000/-.
Though the 400/- was really bad expense for us, we could have easily saved it if we’d have called Dipankar Da, but at that moment we couldn’t think of anything else.
Gopi charged us Rs. 3300/- per day. (Booked by Dipankar Da)
The Trip Would Not Have Been Such Memorable Without :
- India Mike Sikkim Forums. Special mention to member Arup Ratan Ghosh well known as Arup Da for helping out with various queries.
Special Thanks To :
Dipankar Da from North East Travels. He offered us heavy discount on WildFlower Retreat. When we called them up, they said Double Bed Room would cost 2000/- and Double Bed Cottage would cost us 2500/- amd 4 Bed Cottage / Room would cost us 3000/- and it was not negotiable. Whereas Dipankar Da offered us Double Bed Cottage at Rs 2000/- and 4 Bed Cottage at 2900/-. He also relieved the extra 10% service charges too.
Wild Flower Retreat –
Mr. Madhusudhan : +91-9830705512 / Mr. Dhananjay : 091-9609853543 / Himadri Mondal : +91 98313 34253.
UPDATE : As per recent communication with Wild Flower Management, Mr. Madhusudhan is no longer associated with Wild Flower. A new management team has taken in charge and launched online booking through their redesigned online portal : http://wildflowersikkim.com/. Mr. Dhananjay is still there, doing his great job of looking after guests.
Mr. Dipankar Roy (North East Travels) : Email : email@example.com. Phone : +918972247306.
Gopi (Driver) : +91-9733083795 / +91-8016288879. Gopi drives Bolero with the registration number of SK 02 J0179. He’s one of the best and friendliest driver I have even been with.