(Day 1091 on the road)
OK, I know that I have “ended” my trip before and that I have already written the “final” blog of my journey back in October 2010
, before returning to the road for a few more months. But I promise that this time it is really over. Safe from a possible Highlight-Blog in a few months' time, this will be my last entry. It is a sentimental feeling to know that this time it really is the end, but there is no way around it really. Three years of travel, albeit with a two-months break in between, have gone by, and I feel this is somehow the right time to end it all.
And what better place to look back on nearly 36 months of traveling than at the foot of the mighty Himalayas, in the quintessential hill station Darjeeling, within sight of Kanchenjunga
, the world's little known third highest mountain after Everest and K2? Or at least in theory that is, for in the six days that I was to spend in Darjeeling, the mist and the fog never lifted once, barring me from even glimpsing this mighty mountain. But I was told it is right there…
Darjeeling, with its houses perched precariously on its hilly slopes and who takes its name - Queen of the Hills - from one of the many monasteries up here, had a wonderful feel to it, as isolated mountain villages the world over often do. The people looked much less Indian but more of a mixture of Tibetan and Chinese, and the primary language spoken up here is indeed not Hindi but Nepalese. The food is also heavily influenced by its northern neighbour. I was especially happy to discover that food stalls all over town sold momos, a Chinese-type filled dumpling that I had come to appreciate very much during my travels in China in 2008
In general, the pace of life is decidedly slower here than in other parts of India, and people mostly leave you alone and in peace, meaning that one can actually enjoy strolling around town without being harassed all the time. This was very much to my liking, since I have been struggling considerably with the chaotic frenzy and in-your-face mentality of many people in other parts of this huge country.
Getting to Darjeeling had been a bit of an ordeal. From Hyderabad
, where I had heavy-heartedly parted with Jasmin
and Luc, I found myself on a straight 41-hour journey, only broken by a few hours in Rourkela (Orissa) to pick up some stuff I had left behind there back in January. It was a long and exhausting journey, and when I finally put my backpack down in my cozy hotel room in Darjeeling with a great view of the valley, I was well ready to enjoy the last week of my travels.
Before arriving here I had been full of energy, boasting with ideas of what I wanted to do during my final days, ranging from multi-day treks to paragliding. However, once I had settled down and adjusted to the pace of life in sleepy Darjeeling, these grand plans quickly evaporated. The cold climate, which I was completely unprepared for (close to zero degrees at night, quite a change from the heat of lowland India), also took its toll on my adventurous spirits I guess. So instead I took it very easy and took my time exploring the city and its surroundings:
Strolling around town, finding the best spots to eat, drink tea and watch life go by. Exploring the Happy Valley Tea Estate (which produces its
tea exclusively for Harrods in London). Enjoying the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute and the nearby Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoo with its white snow leopards and red pandas. Being stunned by the amount of rubbish everywhere in these pretty mountains. Watching a fair number of protest marches for an independent Ghorkaland. Marveling at the great many colonial architectural buildings and churches. Watching the religious Sunday ceremonies in the temple of Observatory Hill. And of course enjoying the steam-driven ride on the Unesco-listed Darjeeling Himalayan Railway
to the town of Ghum, India's highest railway station.
And then, after what felt like much too short a time to spend in the beautiful Himalayan mountains, it was time to catch my final train back to Kolkata, from where I was to fly back to Germany that same evening. After three years on the road, my travels were inevitably coming to an end. But as I said during the intro of this entry, it does feel like the right time to go home somehow. I have no regrets. And why would I?
The past three years have been the best three years of my life, and I enjoyed every single moment of it. With hindsight, the
decision to leave my old life behind in 2008 was the right decision at the right time. My journey took me across parts of Eastern Europe, Russia, Asia, Oceania, Central America and now India, and it truly was a trip of a life-time. Regardless of what life has in store for me now, my travels were worth it all. The memories will stay with me forever.
What lies behind me? More than I could have ever imagined. What’s up next? I have no idea. At this point, only one thing is certain:
The journey is now over.
Next and final stop: Home (Germany). Also have a look at my pictures at .
PS. And for all of you statistic-lovers out there, here are some from my journey:
• Months on the road: 36 (minus 1 months at home in-between)
• Days on the road: 1091 (minus 30 days at home in-between)
• Countries visited: 35
• Kilometers travelled: 127.715 (major stops connected in a straight line, much more if looking at my actual route!)
• Blogs posts written: 184 (with 177.967 words)
• Pictures taken:
• Pictures uploaded to Travelblog.org: 888
• Planes taken: 26 (about 90% were tiny hops
• Money spent (in total): 28.000 €
• Money spent (average per month): 845 €
• Money spent (average per day): 28 €
• Hits on my blog entries: About 150.000 viewers (June 2012)
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