“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer…”
Reaching Sandakphu Trek’s base camp – Jaubari:
I met three friends from previous trek in Siliguri. One of them arrived from Bagdora airport and the rest three (including me) arrived from NJP railway station. We first decided to book a bus and then take a cab as it would not burn a hole in our pocket (we were a bunch of budget backpackers :D). Later, we decided to go to Siliguri bus stand and inquire about the buses.
-Wanna board a bus to Maneybhanjan from Siliguri? Read below,
(As instructed by the officer at the bus stand) Take a bus to either Mirik or Ghoom from Siliguri. From Mirik/Ghoom, get a cab till jaubari. (tedious efforts to get tickets and know the interchanging bus routes)
-Wanna take a cab to Maneybhanjan from Siliguri? Read below,
Since we were in a group of four we decided to hire a cab from Siliguri to Jaubhari. (Note: there are multiple places named Jaubhari located in this region, out of which one is located in Nepal towards Indian border, other in Sikkim, and one in West Bengal) Our driver was confused about the Jaubari until we located the actual Jaubari (WB)- the base camp for Sandakphu trek through GPS.
The road to Jaubari takes you through the ghats and has steep hairpin curves along the valleys. The road passes through mountain ridges and small villages cutting through the layers of dense fog. If you are nauseating like me, I would request you to take precautions before you start the ride (keep some cloves and lemons handy to avoid vomiting or you may intake avomine – tablet to prevent travel sickness and vomiting, only after doctor’s prescription). I kept licking the piece of lemon as I hate medicines.
My mouth dropped open as our ride began. Our driver seemed to have gained some expertise in driving supersonic jets, he mistook our cab as one of them. We almost touched the 100km/hr milestone in the zero visibility condensed weather on ghat roads. The roads were pretty good and weather was just as pleasant as it should be.
It was a thrilling experience wherein I witnessed every effect of gravity and friction in the front seat. Even the seatbelt couldn’t do any justice to my oscillations. (I was diminutive compared to the extra large seat I fought for :P).
We had a not-so-heavy breakfast keeping in mind the travel route. Our hunger pangs were at its peak. My friends had few blocks of toblerone whereas I managed to satisfy myself with the piece of lemon. We intended to halt for a lunch break, but the road seemed to divert from human civilization, hence we had to cut down on our lunch plans. (I swear the rats in our stomach were eating away our intestines)
Our travel route:
Siliguri -> Kurseong -> Ghoom -> Lepcha -> Sukhiapokhari -> Maney
Bhanjang -> Jaubari