In September 2018, I did with four Indian students a trekking to the Dzongri platform in state Sikkim. The hike was organized with Nepalese guides from the Red Panda Tours.
At 06:30 AM, I went to the Red Panda Trekking office to meet my group for our four-day trekking into the mountains in Sikkim, a state in the north of India. The office was still closed, but the restaurant next to it was open for breakfast. I sat down at a round wooden table and ordered two omelets with honey and baked toast. It was mid-September, and the weather was changing from monsoon to more often sunny, cloudless days. At 07:00 AM, the owner arrived with the guides for the trekking. Back in the office, we made our final preparations. Finally, Fou Indian students joined the trek, and the team was complete and ready to take off. The food for today’s lunch we got from the travel organizer. It was prepared in advance because the hike would last until late evening. At 07:30 AM, we left Yuksom on the way to Bakhim.
My four new Indian friends were from Mumbai. All of them were around twenty-one years old and studying different subjects at university. At the beginning of the trip, we exchanged a lot of information about ourselves and our countries. When I asked them what they knew about Switzerland, they quickly answered: “Roger Federer.” They were impressed with his endurance and still winning many tournaments at the age of thirty-five. My knowledge about India, in general, was still modest. Cricket is a favorite sport that young kids already playing at school told me. When I changed the subject to environment, they showed me a picture of Switzerland how green and cleaned up it was. In India, they have many problems with plastic pollution and animal welfare. They said it was due to corrupt politicians who did not keep their promises. The government always has big plans.
While we were talking, two hours passed. One of my new friends was already tired and got quieter. We focused more on walking than talking, and at noon, we took a break in a small hut and ate our lunch meals. We overcame five-hundred meters altitude at this point, and the village Yuksom wasn’t visible anymore. Without our trekking guide, we would have been lost, surrounded by all these hills and forests. If I compare it to my country, three-thousand meters in Sikkim were like one-thousand meters in Switzerland. Farmers kept sheep up to five-thousand altitudes in this region.
It was 01:00 PM when we resumed our path. This time I walked without the Indians. They were too slow, and I had to wait every five minutes for them. Instead, I joined a group of locals. They carried our food and the Indians’ heavy backpacks to the closest place where we would rest tonight. I was relieved that I had left the other group, and eventually, we could walk in a decent time to the first accommodation.
At 05:00 PM, we arrived at the camping area in Tshoka. A wooden hut was reserved one night for us. I laid down all my baggage in the bedroom, and a Nepalese brought me a sleeping bag for tonight. Suddenly it got darker, and my guide brought a package of candles. It wasn’t common to have electricity from now on. So I took a nap until the Indians arrived at 08:00 PM.
Meanwhile, the locals had prepared rice dishes with Indian bread for our dinner. After the meal, I went to the kitchen to talk with the trekking guides about their life and work in the mountains. They also let me taste their Nepalese food, which they always cook for themselves. After a pleasant conversation, we crawled in our sleeping bags and fell asleep….
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