As mentioned in the earlier post, it rained heavily during night in Lachung. But the skies had cleared in the morning. People we talking about landslides on the way to Gangtok. We decided to park those discussions later as we had to proceed towards Yumthang valley.
|At Zero point, Yumthang valley|
We continued further north. The roads were much better compared to Gurugongmar. Very soon we were at Rhododendron sanctuary. Sonam mentioned that the valley has about 24 species of Rhododendron. April was the start of blooming but many flowers were still seen.
The road midway was damaged due to a severe landslide caused by a mountain breaking away. That had happened an year ago but the area was full of debris.
At Yumthang valley, we stopped for breakfast. Shops were lined up on both sides of the road which had a simple menu of maggie noodles!! It would have an uneventful breakfast but then a war of words broke out between a taxi driver and his guests. It was about “extra” payment required to visit zero point.
|Yumthang valley seen while climbing to zero point|
Zero point is the end of the road at Yumthang valley. While Yumthang is at around 11,693 feet, zero point is situated at an altitude of 15,300 feet. Package tours normally do not include zero point in the itinerary and one has to pay Rs 3,000 to the driver directly to go to zero point. The guests seemed to have spoken some rash words to the driver. Being a soft sikkimise guy, the driver felt insulted and refused to drive any further. It was now the turn of guests to plead to take them to zero point. I think one need to be sensitive towards local culture before speaking out. Anyway, the argument ended in a positive note as the guests apologised and driver agreed to drive them further!!
After an hour from Yumthang, we reached zero point. It was very cold and windy. The scenery was awesome though Tanu did not seem to appreciate it. At Yumthang she had taken hot water instead of mineral water and that made her sick. I had similar experience once in Tibet by drinking glacier water. It was not very serious but we did not stay longer. The cold was too much to handle.
|With Tanu at zero point|
The north sikkim tour was great and now we had to reach Gangtok by night and it was a long journey.