Crossing Into India

In my experience, the speed of time is always relative. It moves slower when we concentrate right at it. When we are counting days and do nothing while waiting for some important event in our lives, it moves slower. But when we ignore it completely and concentrate on something else, it moves much faster, and in most cases, we don’t actually realized how fast it moves. That is the case with me while travelling in Bhutan. I felt that it was only a few days that has passed since I was in Bhutan, while it was actually almost a month since I touched down in this country. After Bhutan, my plan was to cross into Sikkim Pradesh in India by land. I supposed to cycle and cross into India via Phuentsholing, the border between Bhutan and Sikkim. The Bhutanese side allowed me to do that, but the problem will arise once I face the Indian border officers. It is quite complicated since I’m a foreigner where I need a permit to be in Sikkim region of India. So I had no other choice but to do the long way round, I flew from Paro all the way to Kalkota airport to enter India. Once I touched down, I rushed into their domestic airport to catch another flight to Bagdogra, the nearest airport to Sikkim, which is not so far from Bhutan. In this case, time moves really fast, imagine within only an hour, I had to catch another flight, carrying all my luggage and a bicycle, passes through the endless hassle of security check and long queues in one of the busiest airport in India.






Once I reached Bagdogra airport, time moves a little slower, it was less crowded. After I got all my luggage and the bicycle, I took a taxi to send me to Darjeeling. India is the second most populated country in the world, with over 1 billion people. I would never travel with my bicycle in a crowded place. I still remember the nightmare leaving Urumqi, the busy city of Xinjiang, China with my bicycle. Riding side by side with buses and lorries on a super busy road is no fun. Im the type of person who prefer something quiet, dark and mysterious. I can survive weeks talking to no one, alone in the mountains or deserts, but I wouldn’t survive a big city. So I decided not to cycle from Kalkota or even Siliguri and I took a taxi to get me to Darjeeling while my bicycle is still packed inside the box. The road was super busy and polluted in Siliguri. Its packed not only with cars and pedestrians, but also dogs. Less than 10 minutes we drove out of the airport, the taxi driver already hit a dog crossing the road. The journey took about 5 hours to reach Darjeeling. After half an hour we rode out of Siliguri, the road became calm but the climb started. The taxi driver speaks some English so we chat a little. He showed me his new shiny phone and proudly told me that he just got this phone. Its a big screen smartphone. “This is a very biggest phone and its very good! It is made in India!” he said proudly. I was surprised and asked him what is the name of the brand. “Its Samsung”, he said confidently. I gave him my smile. The climb was very long and steep. The road is very small but still packed with tourist jeeps. Lucky I didn’t choose to ride to Darjeeling right from the airport.





Once we reached Darjeeling, it was already dark. The driver sent me right at the taxi stand and left me there with all my luggage. I couldn’t carry everything by myself and it was too dark to assemble my bicycle in the middle of the busy taxi stand. So another local driver came and asked me to pay some rupees and he will help me to find a hotel. It seems that now is the busy season, there are so many domestic tourists coming to Sikkim from all over India and all the hotels are full. The first challenge came to me right at my first day in India, to find a place to sleep. After asking a few hotels, there was one family run guesthouse located about 3km out of Darjeeling which has just one more room left for only a night. I had no other choice but to take it. It was owned by a Ghurka family, very nice and hospitable, they gave me free food for the night as they sensed that I was tired and hungry. The next day they asked me to join them for tea, again giving me free food for breakfast. Since all the rooms were fully booked, they asked me to change, where they have a store room available for me to sleep for the next few nights while I was trying to find other available room in some other hotels. I agreed and moved all my stuffs in the store room. It wasnt that bad actually, even though its not a proper room but it was very quiet since it was facing the hills. I then walked to the centre of Darjeeling and found some hotels, but I decided not to move to those hotels in the middle of the city since it was way too crowded and noisy. I then told the Ghurka family that I wouldn’t mind to stay a few nights in the store room, plus the charged me so cheap for that. They also treated me so well, always invited me for tea and always eager to listen to my travel stories… and gave me free food while staying there.








I came to India totally unprepared and I expected nothing but the unexpected. So I stayed a few days in Darjeeling, doing nothing but taking a rest, walked around the town, reading books and doing some research about travelling in Sikkim. It seems that its really the wrong time to travel in Sikkim now. It is some school holiday in India until the end of June, most hotels are fully booked and the monsoon season is right around the corner. Most of the time I couldn’t even see Darjeeling even though I’m in the town. The clouds are hiding the town from my eyes most of the time. Sometimes the visibility is as bad as less than 50 meters. But once the clouds gave way for Darjeeling to show herself, its beautiful. I see tea plantation almost everywhere on the hills surrounding the town. I see a very nice colour tone between the green hills and the blue sky surround the town. But Darjeeling itself is a really busy town. There are so many tourists and the traffic is really bad. But I still managed to smile, being in a very high populated country, I’m really experiencing India now and trying to get used to it, its just a matter of time…










35 Comments on “Crossing Into India

  1. Nice post. But I found some wrong info. Crossing the Indo Bhutan border from Phuentsholing you reach Jaigaon town of West Bengal not Sikkim. You can not reach Sikkim from Phuentsholing border. Across the border it is the Indian province of West Bengal and Darjeeling is in West Bengal not Sikkim.

    • thanks for correcting. yeah its still west bengal not sikkim. but on top of that, i forgot to mention that i can only enter India via Kalkota as my first port in India due to my Indian visa.

  2. Wonderful photographs Zahariz. I love the way you describe your journey. Sometimes it is the unplanned that can lead to the most wonderful experiences.

    • yes it is! i always leave my journey unplanned. i fell in love with surprises the road gave me

  3. Awesome Trip!! Beautiful Pictures!! thank you for sharing this great experience and may the next one be the “time passing fast” type! :)

    • its nice to hear from u again Kevin. hope all is fine with u back home! and thanks a lot for reading man!

  4. It looks beautiful, I feel like it would be so easy to fall in love with India, maybe except for all the people. I also like aloneness and how it benefits me when traveling! I love the post and all the pictures. I know that anytime I travel anywhere time just gets away from me and I still have so much I want to see and do!

    • Hey paintwriterblue, India is a vast and diverse country. The language culture everything changes every 50km of distance. Most of the people in non-mainstream areas are friendly and helpful. Its just because of the crowd that many of the foreigners are skeptical about visiting India. But trust me, people are good. Thank you for considering India beautiful.

  5. Welcome to India zahariz. Been following your blog for a while and I loved your stories. Hope you enjoy your stay here. Monsoon is a really bad time to visit north-eastern region of India. You might wanna review your plan.

  6. Thank you Zahariz for this most enjoyable post. I too would rather stay in the store room rather than in the noisy town. And what generous hosts you had. Looking forward to more reads.

  7. Maybe because its near to bhutan, i noticed in your photo got few woman looked like chinese but wear sarees. Its cute. Great sharings Zahariz. Please be safe wherever you go.

  8. Tq3x Zahariz. Membaca blog Zahariz mmg sesuatu yg sangat membahagiakan kerana kakak dpt mengenal dunia & isinya melalui tulisan & gambar2 yg d paparkan. Kakak juga tengok rancangan d TV AlHijrah. Memang awesome… like it & love it so much. Tq & semoga Allah sentiasa merahmati adik d sepanjang perjalanan d dunia & akhirat.

  9. Wow thats a interesting journey! It sounds amazing but at the same time a little stressful? Im going to be new to travelling so reading other peoples experiences is really fun. Im currently working on a post and id really like your input? Could I ask you a few questions? If its okay please email me at Id love to read your answers and im sure everyone else will. :).

  10. Wow you were in my town…. Loved to see my place through your lense…. Eagerly, waiting to go back…..

  11. I know how you feel about crowded places. Thank you for sharing this story and for showing us those amazing pictures. I’m looking forward to read more of your posts about India. But be sure that i will be traveling to Bhutan, after what you have lived there… :-)

  12. nice scenery n view…..cantik kawasan ini….pernah dengar nama darjeeling tp ingatkan cuma nama sejenis teh…..rupanya nama tempat di negara india :-)

  13. when i was there the clouds were down over the mountains for the four days I was there. The visibility was close to zero, I never even saw a neighbouring mountain!

  14. Ok….understand from india….hahahahaa.enjoy reading ur writing bro!

  15. Assalaamualaikum, Zahariz, can i share your photos on my fb? Credit to u will be given.

  16. Pingback: India’s Beauty – divyanshspacetech

  17. Great stuff, bro, been a while since I last checked your blog. Darjeeling is special for me, and your story above jogs my memory on a trip there I did in April 2011. It was similar to yours – flew into Kolkata (from KL), on to Bagdogra airport, then hired a car up to downtown Darjeeling. My aim then was to visit the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway or the Toy Train, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. (I’ve been hunting all these UNESCO sites.)

  18. I have been to darjeeling twice and believe me it always surprises me with something new. Hope it gets that much attention as other hill station in India does.

  19. Thoroughly enjoyed reading about your journey, and the photos are nice.

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