They say it is all in the journey and not the destination. I totally agree with it. The planning for a holiday is as exciting as being on one. The journey to my destination though a very long one, was mix of sights, smells, dust, excitement and some surprises.
Within the first 15 minutes after arrival at Bagdogra, we were pleasantly surprised by this wonderful mall " city center" at Siliguri where we stopped for lunch. We were informed that Siliguri 's proximity to Nepal and Bhutan border made it a shopping hotstop. Interestingly Siliguri has about 7-8 malls. Pardon my ignorance, i had not even heard of Siliguri before i started planning this trip. To see this small town/city have this architecturally well designed mall with all the brand names impressed me!
Though the closest airport to Gangtok is only 124 kms away, the drive from Bagdogra to Gangtok was about 4 hours long. River Teesta kept us company all the way meandering through the mountains. Though she was having a dry spell, the sandy banks just added to the drama. The haziness surrounding the mountains, the fine sand spilling over the trees did not get us close to nature as we would like to. But the setting sun and its reflection on the river made it mystical.
I would like to think myself as a seasoned traveler and would not be caught dead at a travel office. But this trip was a package deal with the hotels and itinerary i wanted but organized through a travel agent. This way we avoided hiring different cabs for each leg of tour and enjoyed the convenience of one cab with same driver through the 5 days. I have heard nightmare stories about these package deals but was pleasantly surprised with the professionalism and organizational skills of :"heat flexi". I totally recommend them for travel in North East.
The door to door journey had taken us 12 hours and at the end of the day, we just wanted to hit the bed. Based on tripadvisor, i had choosen Hotel Suhim Portico and it didn't disappoint me. A spic and span hotel with courteous staff and a good chef. We were upgraded to a corner suite without us asking for one. The orchids on the sill of french windows overlooking the valley added to the charm of this hotel. Since it was spring time, even the bathrooms of the hotel had arrangements of orchids! So our first pit stop was a good beginning to our holiday. We couldn't wait for the next day to start!
Location: Highway 31A, Gangtok,India
Date of travel: March 2012
Tip: Never underestimate tier 2/3 cities
Must do: Stop at Siliguri city center for lunch
First: Sight of River Teesta
The travel connection: The joy of journey!