Sandakphu-Phalut Trek - Day 06

CONTINUED FROM: Sandakphu-Phalut Tree - Day 05

Date: 21-Oct-2023

Day06: Timbure (2000m/6560ft) to Srikhola/Sepi (1899m/6230ft)

Distance/Time: 3km/1H

Behind the reels

In the morning, I witnessed a beautiful sight from my first-floor room - A magnificent display of colours in the sky during sunrise. Timbure is a beautiful village and I would love to visit this place again some day. 

I then got ready and went down for tea and breakfast. Tibetan bun was served with potato and chickpea curry. It was delicious and reminded me of Mangalore buns. 

Usha, Bijoy and Tikaram gave us our trek completion certificates and we spoke good things about them and the trek in general. Three polaroid images of the group were clicked and printed for them.

It was time to leave. The walk upto Srikhola bridge near Sepi was easy. It took us around an hour to get there. Mr Dil was waiting for us since 5AM. There had been a miscommunication. There was no sign of frustration on his face though. If there were any, he hid it very well behind an expressionless face. 

Though the jeep was completely empty, we decided to climb up the jeep and sit on the top. That last fun ride gave the trek a much-deserved fun-filled climax. At Sepi, we collected our bags and bid farewell to Tikaram, Bijoy and Usha. We truly had bonded so well during the trek. That is the beauty of smaller groups. During these six days that we had spent together, we were like a small family. 

We decided to travel in one jeep instead of two as we wanted to spend time together. I thoroughly enjoyed this trek, thanks to these 5 youngsters from Pune. For a moment I felt that I too had gone to school with them. Tanuja and I felt young again with the energy level they brought. 

Within 30 minutes of our departure, our vehicle broke down. While Dil called the mechanic, we walked to a nearby temple where Durga pooja was in progress. The villagers were happy to see us and they directed us on how to offer prayers and flowers to the God. The priest was chanting the mantras on a microphone that was broadcasted tot he entire village using speakers. 

Some of the villagers were sitting outside the temple premise, under a shelter specially built for the occasion. They were cooking Kichidi for lunch and some tea by the side. They invited us over and offered us tea and a deep-fried snack made of rice. It was something like Kajjaya or Athirasa prepared in the south. The snack was delicious. The lady who had prepared it at home and got it a while back was happy to see us appreciate her culinary skills. She asked us to try some more. Which we did. Some villagers took selfie with us. 

Here, we met a man who was perhaps in his 70s. He looked much younger though. He wore a grey sweat pant, a white t-shit, a fashionable long coat and a hat. He showed us the picture s of him and his wife taken on his cell phone. He then showed us a few reels he had made of him lip-syncing Bollywood romantic songs. It was very funny. We controlled our laugh. But he was a sweet gentleman and his innocence touched me. 

He walked back with us to the jeep. While conversing with him, I learnt that he was in the army before. He was also posted in Kargil. He showed me a picture from his army days. In the picture, he and his friend were holding a rifle. He told me that now, he has built a house up the hill and he likes inviting friends and relatives over and taking them around the area. He spoke a bit about the unemployment problem in the region and his dissatisfaction with the Government. It is here that I learnt about the Gorkhaland movement. Some of the people of this region want to separate themselves from the state of West Bengal and form a new state. Anyways, as they say, never judge a book by its cover, I realised that behind the man who makes funny romantic reels, there is a thinking man. 

I came across a new fruit called Tree tomato. The fruits resembled a tomato from the inside and tasted like it too. 

After almost 2.5 hours of waiting, the vehicle was finally repaired. There was an issue with the bearing and a young boy from Sepi had come to repair it. Dil and he fixed it and we were ready to leave. Along the way, we played a game of naming countries that started with the last letter of the previous country. We stopped for lunch in Dhotrey. We had a plate of momos and a bowl of Thukpa. 

I was dropped at Sukhia Pokhari. I bid farewell to the team and walked to the taxi stand as the others continued their journey to Siliguri. 

I reached Sukhia Pokhari at around 5:30PM. Surprisingly, there were no taxis going to Darjeeling. It was already dark. It is at the main junction that I met Mr. Lakpa Tsh Sherpa who offered to take me there for Rs 1500. I knew it was very expensive but I had no other choice. Staying a night at Sukhia Pokhari would have cost me almost the same. 

As per google maps, the road to Darjeeling was having a terrible traffic jam. I found another route that was passing by the army camp. Lakpa told me that there are army checkpoints there and sometimes they may not allow us. But since he had a private vehicle, we were okay to go. 

This route was completely empty and we reached Darjeeling within an hour. The other trekkers messaged me to ask if I had reached and to inform me that I had left my water bottle in the jeep. I was sad to have lost my red aluminium water bottle as it had a lot of memories attached to it. Each dent on it had a story to tell. But then, the objects are never important and the memories continue to live, even without them. In fact, I have reached a state in my life where I do not think even memories are important. They prevent us from fully enjoying the present. 

Hostel Hideout is located at the end of a narrow street in Darjeeling, not very far from the city centre. The architecture is really pretty. There are rooms on the ground floor and a cafĂ© on the first floor. I checked in and then stepped out for dinner. I found a small Bengali mess where I had some chapatis and sabji. After dinner I went back to the hostel and retired for the day.