Our hostess rode with us by hired taxi to Kurseong, the village up the hill, to help us buy tickets for the shared taxi ride to Darjeeling. Yes, it is cheaper to go “shared.” And, if you are small little Indian people it is ok. However, being blessed American women (me, of course, much more so than Bethany!) our row became 4 hips and a seat The little Indian couple we sat with on the THREE people row in the middle of the vehicle used over half the seat! For the first 30 minutes, I had one cheek on the seat and one on the door. Then, (couldn’t take it anymore) Bethany had one cheek on the seat and one on the man’s leg! for the next 30 minutes, or so. We started with one in the front and picked up another person. There was a row of four behind us and in the very back on little seats facing each other sat three more people!!!
We arrived safely in Darjeeling. Like clowns out of a circus car, we unloaded and began looking for Mile Road, the bazaar and clock tower. However, more pressing was a restroom! (Sorry I didn’t get a picture of the mutton heads hanging with the other slabs of meat in the open air booths that we passed! Just thought I’d mention that.) Then, around the bend was a haven in the heavens!!! The Elgin. A great looking resort-type hotel that was sure to have a clean restroom. And, they did. And, since it was established by British, they offered a real English afternoon tea!!! with Darjeeling tea, of course. The savories were egg and cheese sandwiches and pakora. The scones were like biscuits and we were served three types of jam. Boxed cookies for the sweets. We so enjoyed it. As soon as we were finished, the plan was to continue to walk up the hill in search of our destinations. Then a deluge came. We stayed under the pavilion for a while hoping the rain would stop. It didn’t. So, instead of walking around and then getting a shared taxi to go home…we ordered a taxi to drive us around and then take us home. It really wasn’t that much more and so less stressful. Up drives, I promise, Peter Sellers from Pink Panther. I know he wasn’t French but he looked so much like him and sounded like him when he tried to speak English. Hiring him was the best idea of the day-next to having tea at The Elgin. He knew where everything was and took us there. We went to the Himalayan Mountain Institute and zoo. Booths are set up all along the walk up to the HMI and I found 8 tins of saffron for less than one small package in the states! Bethany found a great deal on necklaces for gifts. We found the clock tower and mile road. Nathmull’s Tea Store was just down from the clock tower. On the ride home, our driver kept stopping and saying, “You MUST get a picture of this view!” I took so many, I had to stop and buy batteries. I called the “MUST get a picture” one time when I found the sign for the estate of Margaret’s Hope. I sell tea from there at the shop!!! Then we ended with a back road ride past Castleton Plantation to a place we were told “you MUST get up at 4:30 and see the sunrise over those mountains!” We enjoyed another dinner with the family when we got home about 8:00pm. We got to help make momos and such. Our teachers were very patient with us.
A few more pictures from the day: