Christy and John's Travels travel blog

Monk at Play

Took a share jeep from Darjeeling to Pelling, a smallish village with great mountain views in the state of Sikkim. We had to get a special permit to enter Sikkim - it seems quite removed from the rest of India and much more similar to Nepal. They make their own beer here, are not vegetarian (for the most part), and are very focused on keeping the environment clean.

On the topic of alcohol, it seems very frowned-upon in parts of India. Many restaurants we've been to don't serve it, or if they do, the prices are highly inflated or it is served in a teapot or a glass discreetly wrapped in paper so no one sees what you are drinking. In Pelling, there are as many liquor shops as there are shops selling phone cards (I'm not saying this is necessarily a good thing considering the treacherous roads, just interesting). In any case, we did try the local brew and it's not too bad! For the most part we haven't been drinking any beer or wine during our travels - mostly due to bad refrigeration and/or poor quality. It's nice to have a good glass of beer or wine on occasion, especially when watching the sunset over the Himalayas - so when we find some, we do enjoy!

Most people come to Pelling for trekking, but feeling a little trekked-out we decided instead to visit the local monastery and the Rabdentse ruins from the old state capital. The Pemayangtse Gompa is one of the oldest Buddhist monasteries in Sikkim, built in 1705. It has beautiful paintings, stunning views from it's perch on the hilltop, and very playful monks. Many young monks study here and we were able to watch them taking a break and playing games in the courtyard, giggling, and unwinding from their studies. The ruins, on the other hand, were a bit of a let-down. A four KM walk (each way), up and down hills, took us to some piles of brick (too neatly reconstructed for our taste). That was it.

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