It was 81 days into the trip when we arrived at the doorstep of Wanchuk’s family’s house in Gangtok, the capital city of Sikkim, India. We weren’t sure what to expect, or where we would even be staying for the night, but our friend Wanchuk from Washington, D.C. had assured us, “Don’t worry, everything will be taken care of.”
Wanchuk’s mother, Pemla, greeted us warmly and showed us to a guest room she had prepared for us. She invited us to call her Amla meaning “mom.” As we sat in the living room while she made us some tea, glancing at photos of our friend in picture frames around the room, it was hard to hold back tears.
Although I hadn’t felt homesick yet, it occurred to me that you don’t realize when things are missing from your life, when you’re caught up in your daily routine.
Whether you’re simply distracted or accustomed to its absence, you don’t realize the impact…until that missing thing presents itself. A home cooked meal. A real bed and house to sleep in. The joy and comfort of being with people you know and love. Half way across the world, we had found a home away from home.
Tranquil Countryside at Martam
It's the most peaceful place you could ever imagine, surrounded by rice paddy fields. Pemla arranged for us to stay at Martam Village Resort for a couple nights. It was exactly what I needed at that point, having caught a cold and feeling really run down. The resort is owned by Wanchuk's aunt and uncle, whose daughter we also know from D.C. (Shenphen) and we got to visit with them later in Gangtok.
Kewzing Village Homestay
One of the highlights of our time in Sikkim was staying with Wanchuk's relatives in the small village of Kewzing. The family runs a farm and "homestay" accommodation, which is a great way to connect with local people and culture, and it's not just for students. (Check out Homestay360 and Airbnb.)
If you're planning on long-term travel, try to meet up and stay with people you know along the way. Try to incorporate a homestay. You'll get a true sense of the place, a feeling of home, and best of all, a very memorable experience.