20.12.2018 - 20.12.2018
Since last blogging I enjoyed a Jeep ride with 13 people squished in a Jeep to kalimpong and 2 days later another joyous leg numbing Jeep ride to Darjeeling.
I didn't find kalimpong particularly interesting. Some nice mountain views, but for me far inferior a place to Darjeeling. I only stayed a couple of nights. I stayed in someone's house, as a member of the family (homestay). The mum was very friendly to me and cooked great veg curries for dinner. But the son in-law gave me the creeps. He picked me up from the Jeep station on his motor bike and was immediately putting his arm round me and very "touchy feely". He then really struggled to give me and my rucksack a lift on his motorbike. After we nearly fell off I got off and insisted on walking. Later he put his hands on my knees; when he got further up my thighs I got quite "shirty with him". He stayed fairly distant after that!
Being back in Darjeeling was great. I'm in another homestay (recommended by Lily my trekking partner from Sikkim). The guy here is fantastically friendly and helpful (with no homosexual under current). When the sky is clear there is an amazing view of massive mountains right across the horizon - just beautiful to see.
I visited the HMI (Himalayan mountain institute) museum. Very interesting to see the equipment used to first climb Everest - so basic and extremely heavy. God knows how they survived the cold on the clothes they had.
I also went to the zoo - I really didn't like seeing the cramped conditions and the distressed animals walking back and forth in their cages, but at last I got to see a snow leopard
and a black panther
On the same site is the natural history museum. I wish I hadn't gone in, as it was full of the skins of many of the magnificent animals outside in the zoo.
The botanical gardens had nice orchids, but nothing else to see for an ignoramous like me. It was just overgrown woodlands and lots of barbed wire fences.
For me the best place by far in darjeeling is a cafe with a view across to the mountains serving the most delicious Darjeeling teas (a choice of about 40 varieties) and rum balls. Sitting in the window listening to great music looking at the scenery is so wonderfully calming. I've spent hours in that place and was sad to leave for the last time this evening.
Tomorrow I'm going to Jeep down to the hot plains below these mountains to New Jalpaiguri, where I will be catching a train to Nagaland. A 15 hour train ride (£4.50). I've booked a top bunk in the sleeper class but am not expecting luxury. Nagaland is as far East as I can go in India - it borders Myanmar (Burma). Nagaland is famous for it's many tribes, some of which are head hunters - each time they remove the head of an enemy they get another face tattoo.
I will be spending Xmas day there - Jack said he hopes I don't end up being the main course!