The End of The Road
Yuksom is my last destination in Sikkim. Its a nice little village, quiet and peaceful. The people are gentle here. They take their time to exchange their smiles. The clouds are still covering the true landscape of Sikkim from my sight… yet it is still beautiful. I cant imagine when this place is lying under the clear blue sky, lit by the pale sunlight on winter time. I was still deciding whether to go for a week hiking here in the high altitude. I then visited the tourist information centre here and they said that there is no way now for me to hike the 5000m altitude trek here since I dont have a group with me. There was a group of 5 foreign tourists who are on their way here to Yuksom but that group doesnt accept outsiders to join them. So I just decided to spend my days here in Yuksom doing short hike in the village areas. I’ve done some hiking in Bhutan anyway and will plan to do it in Nepal too soon when the weather is fine again so its all good to me. It feels good that I have the freedom and flexibility and when one plan doesn’t work… there will be 10 more different options for me to choose from. My boots and my stove are always ready for work…
Now is time for me to take a good rest from cycling or any outdoor activities at the moment. It is now the beginning of Ramadhan, the holy month for the Muslims so I should give my full concentration now to it. One of my master used to teach me that a man can reach higher level spiritually by having a clear mind and pure heart. The combination of these two is so powerful that it can penetrate into everything like a sword. Men can achieve so many things in life with powerful mind and heart. Yet to achieve this we need to eliminate its enemy called “nafs” in Arabic, which refers to the self or ego. Nafs can penetrate into the mind and heart like the blood that flows everywhere within the body and one way to eliminate the nafs is hunger. Basically in the month of Ramadhan, the Muslims arent allowed to consume any food or drinks as long as the sky is bright, lit by the sun.
I enjoyed staying a few days in Yuksom, its quiet and calm but too bad I dont have enough cash to pay for the hotel here. It is just a small village with no ATM machine for me to draw more cash. The nearest ATM machine is in Pelling which will take me hours and hours of cycling through the big climb. So I decided to leave back to Gangtok by bus and spend my last days in Sikkim back in Gangtok, hoping that there is a place to stay. Its been raining most of the time now so I decided not to do any kind of outdoor activities for the time being but to concentrate more on writing and taking care of my physical body. Finally in my last days here in Sikkim Province, I started to make friends with the locals and learn more about the culture here. I forced myself to watch the local dramas and movies with the locals here and started to understand their entertainment by observing the way they laugh and facial expressions while watching it. I begin to understand their jokes and I find it very entertaining.
I started to realized that India is somehow complicated yet very interesting country. It is so rich with culture with layers and layers and customs and traditions. One of the most complicated thing in their culture is the caste system within the society. I learned that they classify the people with layers of castes, from the highest level all the way to the lowest one. In the countryside, the lower caste cant even touch the food or enter the kitchen of the higher caste family. It gets even more complicated when it comes to marriage and other bigger things in life. Maybe, like in many other parts of the world… the new generations are beginning to make the change and started to resist the old tradition and customs but it wont be easy since these traditions have been practiced for probably thousands of years. From my observation, it is like a war between the older generations and the new generations, where the new generation is trying to make changes while the older generations are still trying to keep the tradition alive. This is happening everywhere now in the modern world, from the brown people of the Pacifists all the way nomadic people far north in Central Asia. But in India on the other hand, theyre still quite strong in holding the tradition compared to the rest of Asia.
While keeping in mind that tradition or way of life is totally different than a religion, I observed that their customs and tradition has actually a lot to do with their main religion here… Hindu. Here in Sikkim, I managed to witness a ritual “Puja” led by an old man who understand and speaks fluently in Sanskrit. It looks so complicated to me, it took almost the whole day to perform the Puja, using so many instruments yet it was very colourful. Almost everyone in the small village took part of the Puja… giving thanks since one of the child here has finally recovered from a sickness after years of struggling. There are so many things to learn, I always have this sense of curiosity and the most importantly, I always have this question… why. I always ask why for everything that happens… I always want to know the reason behind everything… reason within reason… secrets behind everything.. and the secret within secrets. There is unseen for every seen things and I want to see it all… with my eyes and the heart. The local people here told me that, Sikkim is just a small part of India.. and it doesnt even show the real India yet. There are so many states in India and they are all have different characteristics and uniqueness. I have to travel to each of these states to be able to understand the true India. This is only the beginning.. the introduction. To me, I havent even travelled in India yet, this current journey is just a small adventure through the Himalayas. One day I will travel in the real India and I think cycling is definitely not a good option to travel within this one of the most populated country in the world. Cycling through a chaotic traffic in dense big cities, inhaling the dust, being honked every second, dodging rickshaws, cars, bikes and pedestrians is definitely no fun at all. One day I will backpack in the real India and it will take probably a year to complete to really understand this vast land and its people.