If you are a seasoned traveler, then this article won’t interest you. As this is an account of a travel experience of a person who has only witnessed the majestic mountains in pictures and movies (and once on a family Vaishno Devi trip :/ )
It was a just another mundane day in office. A text from a friend came as a much needed reminder that I was in a desperate need of an escape. He was telling me about the recent trekking expedition he has been to. And just to show that my life is as happening, I told him am planning a trip to north-east. And it was while talking to him that I realized maybe it is time that I take the much awaited solo trip to Sikkim. So the next thing I knew, I was being overwhelmed with all the planning that was required to be done. Now unlike most of the travelers I know or have come across since then, I do not even belong to a family who have some tradition to take an annual trip to some place new. So the thought of being all alone on a journey to a place I have never been too, was scary. But it was good scary. Anyway, I booked my flight from Kolkata to Bagdogra and it was official that I WAS in fact going.
After doing my extensive research regarding the place and after answering a number of 'why-solo' 'how-are-you-going-to-manage-this' questions, the day finally arrived when I was supposed to leave. I was sleep deprived as I hardly had any sleep the previous night due to anticipations. But being an ever curious creature, I decided to go for it and see how it turns out to be and whether solo trips are as good as they seem when they are oh so romanticized in various articles and travelogues. Did I mention that I am an introvert? Well yeah. It takes a lot of effort from my side to start a casual conversation. So there was a high chance that this trip would have been a lonely one.
Now if you are not interested in the regular touristy stuff, skip to the later half of Day 6.
I reached Bagdogra at around 3:00 pm and took a cab to Gangtok. Now for those people who are travelling solo and don’t want to spend a bomb in reserving a whole vehicle but still are looking for a comfortable shared ride to Gangtok, try booking a seat through wizzride.
I had booked my first two nights of stay in a hostel named Tagalong Backpackers run by this wonderful lady and great host named Manisha. My first night wasn’t really great as I threw up on my way to Gangtok (I blame airport food).
My host helped me book a cab for local sightseeing. I was accompanied by a fellow solo traveler who happened to be a mountaineer back from some mountaineering course in Arunachal. We went to most of the clichéd tourist places (Ranka Monastery aka Lingdum Monastery, Ban Jhakri Falls, Namgyal Institute of Tibetology, Hanuman Tok, Ganesh Tok, Tashi view point) and it would be wrong if I say I didn’t enjoy my own company. The paragliding experience was good too. Monastery without any doubt was beautiful. The waterfall was okayish as it was too crowded considering the peak tourist season (like a lot of other waterfalls I came across, making it look more like a water park). The sky was pretty clear and I was able to get a view of Mt Kanchenjunga from Tashi View Point.
This was the day I left for North Sikkim. Now if you book this trip on a shared basis, then you will have to share the vehicle (Sumo/Bolero generally) with 9 other tourists (4+4+2). Undoubtedly it is not a very comfortable way to travel as there is a lot of road time involved in this 3 days 2 nights trip. But comfort was not my only concern. I was pretty skeptical about spending the coming 3 whole days travelling with absolute strangers. Mind you I was not concerned safety wise, but 'getting-along' wise. But I was lucky that during this trip I met these wonderful people. We all totally got along and had an awesome time together. It just couldn’t have been better. Four among us were solo travelers and rest were couples from different ethnicity from across the country. We had a mini India in our vehicle :P.