I always wanted to visit Sikkim – had heard so much about the place – its natural beauty, food, people and, of course, Kanchenjunga! Then last year I saw some pictures of the Cherry Tree festival at Temi in Southern Sikkim and I was blown away.
As a tea artist and a tea blogger, I wanted to visit Temi and experience the Cherry Tree festival. I also wrote to them about my interest but it was too late, unfortunately.
This year luck turned on me unexpectedly and I was invited to visit Temi by the Temi Tea Company (the organizers of Cherry Tree Festival) and write a story about it. I was ecstatic.
This year the festival was scheduled between 8th and 10th November. I decided to reach there by 7th so as not to miss anything. I reached Bagdogra by a morning flight from Bangalore and was hoping to reach Temi by early afternoon. But there were other guests who are coming that day and the last arrival was at 1:30 p.m. So by the time we all got into the Sumo (sent by the MD of Temi Tea) it was well past 3:00 p.m. And we had 5 to 6 hours of drive ahead of us.
The driver was an expert, the company in the car was excellent and the scenery outside was awe-inspiring. By the time we reached Rangpo, it was dark and almost 7:00 p.m. We stopped there to savor the famous Sikkimese Momo before we started for the last leg of the journey.
As we entered Temi district, the road became quite bad. It was a 4 x 4 SUV hence the jerks and rolls were bearable. We joked that the road is helping us digest our food so that our dinner at Temi feels more sumptuous. The bad road lasted about 14 kilometer and slowed us down a bit. After that, the road widened and became smooth and very driving friendly. Our expert driver stepped on the accelerator and got us to our destination by 9:00 p.m. Not bad I thought!
My destination it seems was a cosy little Homestay which is part of the Temi Tea hospitality ecosystem. The homestay is run by a lovely local lady and her teenage daughter (she is studying and preparing for 12th exam). There was another guest who travelled with me and was also staying here. And Nabanita my other co-passenger, a fellow tea lover and entrepreneur, wanted to join us instead of going to her hotel which was further down. Nabonita and I decided to share my room and the hostess quickly moved stuff around and made a comfortable sleeping arrangement for my new roommate. We ordered a light dinner of chapati and chicken curry. Since the hostess had already cooked some chicken curry for us, the dinner got over quickly.
I found everything at the homestay to be very neat and clean – the bed, linen, towel, cutlery bathroom etc. I don’t usually prefer to stay in big hotels but I definitely need a clean bed and a super clean bathroom. These are the musts. Here at this tiny two room homestay they exceeded my expectations on both these requirements.
In terms of food, I preferred their vegetarian options more than their non-vegetarian food, which was primarily chicken.
Next morning my roommate had woke up early and ordered tea to be served at the terrace table. I got up hearing her placing the order and then joined the two of them at the terrace for my morning cup of fresh Sikkim tea. Sitting in an iron chair overlooking the valley and among the morning mist, it was the best morning tea for me in a long long time.
The car was supposed to come and pick us at 9 am. After a hot shower and a quick breakfast of bread and omelet, we climbed up to the main road to wait for the car. Since the car was getting delayed. We decided to walk a bit and meet the car on the way . 5 minutes of walk in the morning mountain road cleaned my mind and energized me immediately.
We made the car just after 10 minute of our walk. The driver told us that the cherry festival will be inaugurated at 12:00 and asked what we want to do until then. We decided to travel in the car and get down whenever we feel like to click pictures. We stopped at two locations. One of the road bends gave us a magnificent view of the Kanchenjunga along with the other joining peaks. It was a Sunny clear day, visibility was superb, clouds had still not started floating towards us, and nature gave us our best few of the majestic peak. It was quite overwhelming. I am always haunted by the Himalayas, it’s one of those things that make you speechless in the most beautiful way.
Next stop was the Temi Tea factory. I realised that at a certain vantage point on that road one can have a clear view of the Kanchenjunga, the factory building, and the cherry trees altogether.
Concluding part next week...
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