Rising from the plains and shaded with trees is my village called Lachung. Comprising stately mountains, determined rivers, and exotic flora and fauna, this village is a story in itself.
I want to share my experience of hot spring camping with my family in Yumthang Valley, a famous tourist destination in North Sikkim. It’s a great place to relax and release your stress, and the best part about it is its delightful landscape and magical brooks. Now those of you who do not have an idea about what a hot spring is, it is hot water gushing out from the Earth’s layer, which is salty in taste and has the odor of eggs—probably due to the high concentration of various minerals such as, calcium, magnesium, ilicia, lithium, and even radium. The hot spring in Lachung is popularly known among the villagers for its ability to cure many diseases related to the bones; it is also believed to cure car sickness. Every year, in the months of March and April, many villagers go to the hot spring to take a dip.
Taking a quick picture amidst the scenic surroundings
Getting back to my camping journey, it was filled with togetherness and memories. Our trip was for four days. While my two elder brothers, my sister-in-law, my elder sister, and I shared two tents, my parents stayed over at a guest house. The first day went by setting up the tents and cooking. We ended the day with a warm dip in the hot spring. The real fun began the next day. We started with a heavy breakfast comprising fresh fruits, rice, curry, and some sausage. After that, we all went to the Yumthang Valley to enjoy the scenery, click some family photos, and visit a friend who is one of the caretakers of the valley. He gave us yak milk and some homemade cookies, which infused some warmth in us. Leaving our parents behind, we all went fishing. My brothers taught me how to fish, which was an amazing experience, and guess what? turns out I am really bad at fishing: I almost broke the fishing rod by hitting it on the rocks. Later that night we played Ludo and Antakshri with mom and dad. The day was indeed well spent and loaded with smiles and happiness in the family.
The next day we women woke up around 4 am to take a dip in the hot spring because we noticed that the water gets hotter during late night and early morning. We made our own floating tubes out of empty jars and enjoyed floating in the warm water. There is a myth that the more you move around the water, the more it gets colder, so mom insisted we stay put in one place. After a refreshing and rejuvenating bath, we had our breakfast and went to collect wood to cook our evening meal. Afterward, we split up: my brothers went fishing, dad and mom went to meet dad’s friend again, and us sisters went for a long trek. On the way, we saw many kinds of flowers, enjoyed taking pictures, and played around the woods for some time. After a long and tiring walk, we reached our tents and went to relax in the hot spring pool again. Later that evening dad and mom returned with milk, and mom made butter tea for us; my brothers also brought some fish, and we ended up having a little family party around a big campfire with some wine and beer and roasted fish. That night we all huddled up and talked about many things from our dreams to ghost stories. It was another day well spent.