I am writing this from a Nepali rooftop coffee house in Gangtok. The rain is pounding down on the Tin Roof. It's almost the end of May, and I traveled all the way to North Bengal and Sikkim for a pleasant summer as a respite from the absurd Mumbai heat. However, the monsoon started early in Sikkim and our schedule changes almost every day, according to the rains and the wait for clear roads. Let me tell you what it is like travelling to the hills during the monsoon season and a Monsoon travel checklist.
1. Changing plans, all the time. You can't afford to underestimate the rains in the hills; you should be prepared to change plans at a moment's notice!! Oh, and there are heavy landslides on the way there and roads/hike trails are blocked. You might get stuck on the road for hours if a bridge ahead collapses and end up sleeping in the car or, if you are lucky, a homestay nearby. All your bookings you planned ahead might go for a toss and if your return tickets are booked, then you might have to go back without exploring anything around (yes, I experienced all of it).
A bridge collapsed due to heavy rains and landslides
Struck for 4 hours but with this view
2. Monsoon also means no more breathtaking views of valleys and mighty mountains. I booked most of my stays for their views of Kanchenjunga, beautiful valleys and villages. Unfortunately, all I could see most of the time was a huge wall of mist! Sometimes visibility stopped at 1-2 meters. If you're interested in views and landscapes, then monsoon is a NO-NO.
"There are breathtaking valleys and a spectacular view of Kanchenjunga beyond this mist wall", they said
3. The struggle to stay dry is real!! We had to carry raincoats and umbrellas even when stepping out to a nearby cafe, dealing with wet shoes and clothes. Other fun perks were making our peace with a variety of flies and mosquitoes and girding out loins to spend days without electricity.
The rain had stopped by now, the drifting cloud-scape inside the open window leaving me pleasantly cool. I started walking back to my stay wading through the water puddles, watching how the monsoons fill the valleys with colourful flowers. The shops are all re-opened, and the fruits, leaves and flowers now have dewdrops left by the rain. The weather is 'deliciously cold', Ruskin bond would say. There were definitely many moments where I wished I were elsewhere, but the beauty of this season always makes me want to stay. There is no other season like the monsoon and it has been my favourite season to travel in India!
Braving the Rains with an Ultimate Monsoon travel checklist!
Here is an ultimate monsoon travel checklist, some tips and essentials before venturing into the monsoon adventure!!!
Flexible schedules - Keep you plans very flexible. You might have planned a perfect trip but monsoon might have some other plans for you. Keep 2-3 days buffer and Ensure your bookings are refundable.
Be entertainment ready - Getting struck in a bus or on the road, having to spend a day/night somewhere you didn't plan to, can get very annoying. Keep a pack of cards, a good book or slip a handy board game in your backpack to keep yourself entertained.
Water proof covers for you backpack - Very important, even if you have a waterproof bag. You don't want to have the stress of carrying a wet bag or have to worry about the gadgets inside. A strong umbrella and a Poncho/raincoat (The monsoon Umbrella pictures are my favourite :p) Carry quick dry fabrics (you can find some decathlon) A waterproof phone cover. Its practically difficult to put your phone in the backpack or not use it. An idiot proof case/cover can be very helpful without worrying about the phone getting wet. Shoe sachet bags
Not a time for the Road, less taken - In the hilly areas the road is less taken for a reason. During Monsoons always take most frequently used roads/trails.
Other things to carry
A quick absorbent hand towel A torch or a small lamp for the power outrages Odomos or any other strong mosquito repellant creme. If you have the luxury of carrying a mosquito net in your backpack then nothing like it Comfortable shoes Basic first aid
Happy and Safe Monsoon travels! have some tips? drop them in the comments below ????
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