Typical scenes of the day for us as we travelled were intrepid roads carved along the sides of mountains with hairpin curves aplenty...rickety swinging suspension bridges...warm valley bottoms nurturing a diversity of tropical species...large butterflies constantly flitting about...hillsides covered in a green carpet of lush vegetation including abundant stepped rice paddies swaying in the breeze and acres of cultivated tea plantations.
Tea bushes are pruned to waist height for ease of plucking and to encourage new, tastier, and more tender shoots with only the top 1 to 2 inches being used; India and China are the top producers of tea.
These varied tapestry scenes were vertically seamed together with splendid cascading waterfalls, crashing uninterrupted onto the rocks like the heartbeat of the world. In number, it seemed as if they were non-stop, from small delicate trickles to grand gushers.
Cascading onto rocky road
The other constant was bridges and their varied integrity was as diverse as their types. But one similarity of many was the ever visible Prayer Flags. The robust ones gave passers confidence but others were a bit heart stopping with views through the gaps of rapids below - will it hold us??
Some even had signs stating that only one vehicle could cross at a time. Others were deteriorated to the point of closure with alternate crossing. Some places didn't even merit bridges and we had to cross through the water over rocks and boulders while raising our feet to keep them dry.
Welcome to North Sikkim
Safely on the other side
Riding yesteryear's technology, as robust as they are, one still needs to be prepared to give it some sweet talking and attention. Gatty equipped us with essential tools and parts that proved to be a prudent move when at one lonely part of the road Jordan needed to replace a broken clutch cable.
The tools and parts came out, the old cable was extracted, the new one was in and adjusted in a few minutes and we were on our way, ending up that day in the grotty valley bottom crossroads town of Singtam (East Sikkim) situated along the river. The town roads were lined with transporters and taxis, waiting for their next fare.