Pat and Richard in India and Nepal travel blog

Tea pickers on the plantation

Beautiful views all around

Karmi Farm

The choko man

After a three hour very bumpy jeep ride over mountain roads with beautiful views, we arrived at Karmi Farm on Monday afternoon. We are really out in the wilds here and the place is not marked on the maps.

Karmi Farm is run by Andrew Pulger, whose Sikkimese grandparents once owned this land. Andrew's father, a Scotsman, married into the family in the 1950's and ran the tea plantation, which is now managed by Andrew. The farm is also a guesthouse with a very rustic main house and lovely bungalows and dormitories scattered close by. There is a covered outdoor deck with fantastic views - the farm overlooks Sikkim in one direction and Nepal in the other - and surrounded by flowers of all descriptions. There is also a clinic nearby that was started by the family to save the local people having to trek for three hours to reach medical help.

On our first full day here Andrew took us for a three hour walk on very hilly mountain tracks. It's a photographer's dream here, the views over the tea plantations, rice paddies and veggie gardens to the mountains beyond are fantastic. They grow chokos in huge numbers here, we saw acres of vines grown the same way as grape vines, and sacks and sacks of chokos being transported by horseback to the central pick up spot, waiting to be taken to market. After our strenuous walk we were all ready for lunch and a lazy afternoon reading before dinner.

On our second day we had another walk, with a visit to the clinic on the way. Again, fantastic views all around though a bit hazy today. The clinic is in one small room over a shop in a small village. There is one man, not a doctor but a local man who has had some basic training, who runs the place and can deal with simple cases and refer the more complex ones to the hospital in Darjeeling. Their annual budget is 5000 UK pounds raised from donations - a tiny amount of money though admittedly drugs are cheaper here than in Australia or the UK. There is no government financial assistance. The clinic has made a huge difference to the local villagers who previously had to walk for hours to get medical help.

Once we got back to Karmi Farm we had lunch then another lazy afternoon till around 6pm when we gathered in the kitchen to watch the cook and friends making momos (Tibetan dumplings) for tea. We had a go too but were not very good - just couldn't get the folding and sealing right! They tasted delicious though.

Off again early tomorrow for a long jeep drive to Gangtok in Sikkim.

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