So we arrived at Darjeeling at about 7.30am and made the very exhausting trek up the mountain - heavy rucksacks and all - to the hotel we had decided on (and later advised as it was 'out of town').
After gorging on omlettes - our second meal in India - we finally had some much needed sleep (we had only had one full nights sleep at this point) before an setting off on an exploration of the colonial tea town.
Darjeeling is a not your typical Indian town (speaking from experience) and it the most environmentally friendly town in the country thanks to the presence of rubbish trucks. There is a distinct colonial presence at the top of the town, and surrounding it thanks to the vast tea plantations. Lower down the mountain you get a stronger sense of India with fruit and meat markets, with sellers persuading you to buy bombay mix of funny puff ball things.
Today we walked to the Tibetan Refugee Self-help Centre, which was apparently 2 km out of town. Walking to the refugee centre was no stroll in the park, although according to locals we were permamently going in the right direction,
Me: "where is the Tibetan Refugee Centre?"
Local: "over there."
Me: "is it far?"
Local: "sort of"
Me:" so about 10mins or so?"
Local: "maybe more."
Two and a half hours later we finally arrived (possibly stopped at the zoo and Himalayan trekking musuem en route)!!! Fortunately it was a fascinating place and we learnt all about the plight of Tibet and how they came in their thousands to India to seek refuge. India being the kind country that it is, set up craft centres, refugee centres and working villages to help the Tibetan people get on with their lives. In the centre we went to we saw the weave beautiful Tibetan rugs, shawls and make leather shoes.
Next stop was a couple of shacks next to a tea plantation where we marvelled the delights of Darjeeling tea (considerably better than the Twinings variety) and stocked up on plenty of the more fragrant varieties. A quick dahl curry at Hasty Tasty and back to route planning.
Tomorrow after a quick trek up Tiger Hill to see the sun rise over Mt Everest (that is if the mist finally lifts - we have started to take photos of the mist just to show how bad it is...oh dear) we are then hopping on a roughly 16 hour train ride we will arrive at the beautifully fragrant Varanassi to see dead people float along the Ganges (I pray that it won't be as hot as it was when I last went and I now know not to stand above the crematorium as dead body smoke in your eyes is really not much fun).
Chatty, Jamie and Olivia.
p.s. If your planning a trip to India soon - Darjeeling is a must!
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