Final Goodbye (for this time)

June 12 (4)

Greetings to all. I leave this morning from Pelling by helicopter to return to Bagdogra and then by plane to New Delhi. I have had a fascinating time.

The trip from the Dubdi hotel to St. Xavier’s is only about 10-15 minutes but during that time you experience some of the typical West Sikkim Province Himalayan mountain driving.

To leave this complex of hotels in Pelling you travel for about three minutes on the worst road I have been on. Barely one lane, hard packed dirt and worse, cars everywhere, sometimes stuck in drainage ditches on the side of the road, and people walking in the road because there is nowhere else to walk.

Assuming you are able to leave this complex, you enter on to a normal road (of sorts). It is asphalt and kind of two lanes most of the time. But the cars, and trucks for that matter, need to be smallish to move pass each other at the same time. On one side of the road is a drainage ditch that can at times go down 12 inches on a steep incline. You don’t want to get caught in these. On the other side is either some hard packed dirt maybe 18” in width if you are lucky. If you are not lucky, there is no earth, just a drop off down the side of the mountain.

The road has hair pin turns and is never straight and often has pot holes. Interestingly, the safest time to travel is at night because then you have car lights to warn you of approaching vehicles.

I understand that this is a good stretch of road. The trip to Bagdogra by car is six hours (sometimes seven) in worse conditions where the road is sometimes simply hard packed earth and stone. Is it any wonder that I chose to take a helicopter?