After another 5 hour drive we came back to our rooms at Tso Lhamu hotel in Lachen. Most of us now had headaches and were very tired. We ate lunch at 4 pm (a good 10 hours after our last meal!) and packed up. We then headed to Lachung, close by but about a 1000 feet lower than Lachen. We were put up in a small place called “Castle lodge” which had a subtitle saying “ a wooden cottage” . This was inside an army area and I guess we were put up here instead of at a hotel as we were a group of guys and not a family like the other groups. The lodge had small, but very comfortable wooden walled rooms furnished with literally nothing but beds and a small table. This lodge was right next to the Teesta river and was surrounded on both sides by nearly vertical faces of mountains. It was not as cold as Lachen but the wind was strong on account of the river and hence we needed a few more layers of clothing here. Our Lodge was near a khukri shop which sadly was closed thus depriving me the change to buy a khukri from a real Gorkha.
We left the next morning at 6 am for Yumthang valley (Alt:11,600 ft) . This time the roads were good and the trip was short. The valley essentially lies between snow-capped mountains on one side and heavily covered one on the other. The Teesta flows in between them. The views again were beautiful, especially the layers of mountains seen in the distance. We took a lot of touristy photos here with us on rocks, next to river etc.
Breakfast again was hot coffee (which was quite bad actually), Maggi and bread and marmalade, once again in a small hut. After breakfast we soon left for Lachung again to head back to Gangtok as soon as possible.
The trip back to Gangtok was uneventful; we stopped over for lunch at some random hotel on the way and reached Gangtok by 4 pm. All along the river Teesta flowed next to us, getting bigger and bigger as we went further.
The last night in Gangtok was spent again on MG road, this time actually buying stuff. We decided to have authentic Sikkimese food for dinner and went on the recommendation of Kishoreda (owner of Hotel Kasturi) to the Snow Lion restaurant at Hotel Tibet. We had themthuk, chestu, momos, sha bhaklep and a few other dishes. The food was excellent, especially the pork; I don’t think I have ever eaten pork this tender. We went to bed early that night as we had another early morning ahead of us.
The next morning we left Hotel Kasturi for one final time to head back to NJP after taking a look at Rumtek monastery. As we got into the car, the sun rose on Kanchenjunga, with just the white peak turning orange while the rest of the lesser mountains retained their dark colour for a bit longer before following suit. It was almost as if it was leading the mountains in bidding us farewell. It was quite a sight.
Our driver once again was a total nutcase (I wonder how on earth we get all these people) but I am not complaining as the guy at least agreed to take us to Rumtek monastery and then to NJP without much of a fuss.
Rumtek Monastery was a nice place, very quiet much like all monasteries but was excessively commercialised with hotels, restaurants, colleges and houses all around. The litter was easily visible as was the neglect to perfection of the painting and maintenance of amenities. It was more of a tourist spot not that you can blame them for it considering the whole of Sikkim essentially runs on tourism. This monastery did give us even more breath-taking views (for one last time) and some of the artwork inside the main shrine hall was rather cool. Over all nice place, but disappointing compared to the rest of the trip
After this we had breakfast – Wy Wy again but cooked this time. Then we headed back to NJP once again with the Teesta by our side to take (quite appropriately) a train called the Teesta Torsa Express.