The day started the night before. Our driver arrived after a reminder call. It was the same person who had brought me from Dhahra Dun but this time the car was very, very nice, the best I’ve seen in India. Although Bethany and I had both downed some Dramamine for the twisting ride down, we had to stop. Oooops. Poor Bethany. She hasn’t made it down without stopping yet.
We were able to find our sleeper coach. Navigating with baggage was much easier. Bethany had one bag and both bags were lighter now that I had delivered some gifts!
Bethany took the top bunk, thank you!, and I had the bottom. I “slept” like you do with a newborn baby: eyes shut, ears open. There were quiet Indian voices chattering throughout the ride. My bag with passport, camera, etc was at my head, beside the pillow for safe keeping. I was especially happy to be wearing some of my newly acquired Indian clothes; they are so comfortable.
Then, Bethany woke me. We were at the Delhi train station. I remember this place. I had to take a picture of the cross over stairs, feeling safe with another American and proper garb. (I can’t believe I carried both suitcases up these stairs and across and then down another set!!! See precious post Day 18.)
Then, walking past all the porters offering to carry our load, we found the entrance to the Airport Express railway. We both felt transported into another world. Large, lighted corridors in the new station seemed out of place but welcomed. After going through a security check (including a stop in the-real name- Ladies’ Frisking Station-sorry, no photos allowed) we bought tokens to enter the train, boarded, and were off. Riding in the air conditioned rail coach made the hour pass quickly. We discovered upon arrival that we then had to board a shuttle bus (not free) to go to the old airport for Spicejet flights. This gave an opportunity to see some of Delhi in the day. A mix of unfinished and finished buildings. Scattered trash and homeless settlements between streets on the medians. Several types of transportation using the same road. Occasional fenced in properties that are landscaped and well-kept.
Then a few hours to wait to shuttle out to the SpiceJet plane and fly two hours to Bagdogra. We finally found our driver who then drove us two hours up the mountain to Makaibari, the tea plantation. But, of course at 3:00, along the way, we stopped at a roadside café for tea. Very delicious!
We were taken to our room which is attached to the house of a plantation employee. Very nice, roomy with detached facilities. The wife soon brought us cups of tea. The 16-year-old daughter brought tea and snacks later. Then we enjoyed dinner in their home at the kitchen table. (We ate while they served and watched.) Traditional Indian food except not as spicy. After dinner, we were served a cup of white tea, Bai mu dan. We were shown, at our request, the daughter’s school yearbook/magazine which was very impressive. The school is preparing to do the musical, Mama Mia. Last year they performed, Jesus Christ Superstar! which they performed for the King of Bhutan! Interesting.
We retired at around 8:30! I can’t remember when I went to bed that early. And slept well, at least until the rooster crowed at 5:00am..
A few more views from the day and a crunchy, salty tea snack: