The pandemic had robbed us of a lot of things that we held dear, but among all of them, what we missed the most was trips, road trips. There used to be a time when we never let go of an opportunity to hit the roads. But life brought us a gift, which for a couple of years, was too delicate for road trips; and then we were locked in for two years! This year, once we got our second jab, and the Covid infection curve started to cool down, we decided to get back on the roads.
Our little one, Adrish, had his tryst with the ocean and hillocks around West Bengal. This time, the call of the mountains was too hard to resist. For various reasons, the only option came out to be the Durga Puja break, and expecting the rush of a holiday-starved populace, we chose a couple of places at slightly off beat locations – a hamlet known as Baiguney in Sikkim & Ghoom near Darjeeling. We opted to stay at the Club Mahindra resort in Baiguney and Sterling Resorts at Ghoom.
You might be thinking why?
It was to be a trip of 3 families, with 3 toddlers- Zaibjeet (9 months), Kabir (18 months), and Adrish who had just turned 36 months! Those who have travelled with toddlers, know very well that you cannot hop around with them and their plethora of luggage! So it had to be fewer place of halt and more day trips.
The road to the North has not been in great shape for a while, and night driving with kids can turn out to be unpredictably stressful, so we decided that moms and kiddos will take the morning flight to Bagdogra, while the boys drive through the night with their favorite toys!
The ROAD TO THE NORTH
We took a relatively less taken route via the old Delhi road, Mogra, Kalna, Nabadwip and from Krishnanagar, it is a beautiful 4 lane to Raigunge. We took the Dalkhola route and surprisingly didn’t face any hold ups.
Pro tip – the road is the best of conditions we have seen for years. Just watch out for the speed breakers after the Mogra flyover.
The cars started at 830 PM from Kolkata and we reached Bagdogra by 9 AM with a relaxed drive. The wives and kids landed at 10:30. The families were reunited at the parking lot of the Bagdogra airport and we were all ready to roll!
Pro tip: A good child seat is extremely important for a safe and stress free trip with a kid. Make sure they are comfortable.
We stopped for an extended lunch for the kids and us at Cochrane Palace. This turned out to be far less crowded than Margaret’s deck. The food was simply delicious.
A hamlet… baiguney
Next stop was straight to Baiguney, taking the Jorethang route via Darjeeling. The stretch between Darjeeling and Jorethang is in shambles and low slung cars should be careful. But the route winds through famous tea gardens and is one of the more scenic routes in the region.
We woke up to a beautiful, but warm morning! Baiguney is down in a valley and temperatures in October can be on the higher side. The resort had a lot of open space, and plentiful greenery, that brought its share of fauna as well, not to everyone’s liking though! The river Rangeet flows nearby and you can walk down to the bed of the river via a private path.
We did a couple of day trips to Namchi and Pelling. Do try out the Flavours restaurant at Namchi. Their pork dishes can give top joints in Kolkata a run for their money. We had a glimpse of the Mighty K, both from the Namchi helipad and the Pelling Skywalk.
GHOOM & ITS Sterling RESORT
Three days were gone in a whisker and soon it was time for our second leg at Ghoom. We avoided the broken Jorethang Darjeeling route this time and took the longer route via Melli and Peshok. The picturesque Peshok Road did not disappoint us and we got breathtaking views of the sleeping Buddha against a clear blue sky.
In fact, we got a clear view for the next 3 days and after a while got quite bored of it and were wishing for Darjeeling’s characteristic mist and cloud cover which was no where to be found, even around Tukdah and Lamahatta.
We did a few day trips to Tinchuley, Lamahatta and Darjeeling – avoided it as the crowd was just overbearing and I could not bear the smell of frying fish on the road in front of Glenary’s. Yes, call us colonial if you like, but we fail miserably in preserving the old charm and character of a place. In fact, we were disheartened to see Glenary’s has covered up the open terrace and changed the layout for increasing seating space. The food at Glenary’s has also lost its standard, by quite a few notches.
Sterling Resort at Ghoom was nice though, a spread out property with a nice lawn to enjoy the sunshine and the views. Suites have a living space and a kitchenette too which turned out to be a boon. Some of the rooms can have blocked views and turn out to be claustrophobic as well, so checkout the rooms first before checking in.
We started our return journey back on the day of Ekadashi, dropped the wives and kids at the Bagdogra airport and took the same route back to Kolkata.
Pro tip: Travelling with toddlers can require extensive planning – you need to stop at the right time, at the right places, need to carry food and ingredients (with backups), plan for throw ups and tantrums during trips. Most of all, keep your journey flexible, as any one may need to stop at any time. Since all of us were familiar with the routes, any of us could stop with the others carrying on. Try to keep their routine consistent.
It was a refreshing trip after ages, a road trip in its truest essence, with plans on the go and unplanned pitstops at unnamed waterfalls on the roads. We were more relaxed with no need to get into hired cars with unknown drivers. It was a testing ground for me as well, as Adrish has motion sickness. We did carry sick bags and anti vomiting meds, but the brat refused the medicine and got sick anyway. But we could see that he is getting acclimatised fast, and unbelievably, his nausea has reduced considerably after the trip! That’s a pointer to what we need to do, plan more trips! Watch this space for more.
With that, we wrap up for today and we are already making plans for the next one, before Omicron dares to make a field day! 😀