Thumper…

January 2, 2017

Darjeeling – Day 6 6/10/16

Headed toward Darjeeling today, left Siliguri around 10am.  Drove through a military area – the public road divided the military area which was kind of weird.  There was a sign that said “Elephants have right of way – do not obstruct”, which is a little different to signs you’d find here in Australia.  I’m not sure what type of person (or driver) would try to take on an elephant and even remotely hope to come off better, but I guess some people have obviously tried it, hence the need for a sign.  Disappointingly, I didn’t see any elephants.

Elephant Sign

Elephant Sign

We went up the mountain way and had some really good views of the mountains.  The road going through the towns was interesting, it was not very wide and there were people on either side as it pretty much served as a footpath as well (some places had very narrow footpaths, maybe 2 foot in places).  Cars would only just be able to pass, many times you’d have to pull over to let the other cars pass.  Sometimes there were traffic police directing the traffic – essentially getting traffic in one direction to stop at the right place while others passed.  Seemed inefficient, but worked well enough.

The Streets

The Streets

We stopped at a tourist stop on the way for lunch, and had some kind of dumplings.  They were quite good, but to buy them you actually walked into the kitchen where they were being made and pretty much picked them off the tray yourself.  Of course we could have been doing it wrong, but we’ll probably never know! There was no mad hand waving at us, so maybe we were right…

Making Dumplings

Making Dumplings

Most of the way up we followed the old railway lines.  Years ago the railway had been built as a way to transport people and goods up the mountain (used to start in Siliguri I think).  Judging by the cars parked on the railway lines and the general disrepair of the lines, it didn’t look like it got used much, if at all, a fact that we were able to confirm later on (only a small section runs).

Parking on the lines

Parking on the lines

When we got to Darjeeling, we looked around the town for a while, got some tea (genuine Darjeeling tea from Darjeeling), went to the post office, went to the local shopping mall and arvo tea at Glenary’s.  Hopefully I’ll get back there tomorrow as they have some nice looking cakes.

View from Glenary's around 5pm

View from Glenary’s around 5pm

If you’re ever looking for an ATM in the shopping mall at Darjeeling – it’s inside one of the shops, almost hidden amongst these massive teddy bears.  It took us a while to find it!

Spot the ATM

Spot the ATM

We had Pizza Hut for tea – well it was right below our hotel and there really didn’t seem to be much else around!  We were hanging out for some meat and our meat options on the menu were chicken or chicken (95% of pizzas were veg).  Not hard to guess that we went for chicken.

We stayed at the Old (Main) Bellevue Hotel, which looks nothing like their pictures.  In India there’s a requirement to register all guests in a big government book and take a copy of their passport.  We didn’t have a copy of our passports, so they kindly took them to “photocopy”.  Seems they didn’t have a photocopier and disappeared for about half an hour to get a copy.  Kinda unnerving seeing your passport vanish in the hands of a stranger and just having to trust that they’ll do the right thing… which they did, as far as we know.

Glenary's

Glenary’s

Wandered around the top part of Darjeeling that night – it’s quite lively at night with some English bands playing on the steps of some restaurants, plenty of lights around (getting ready for Diwali) and of course plenty of stalls trying to sell you things.  Came across a photography shop selling pictures of the Great Ocean Road and Twelve Apostles! There was a weird row of stables that fronted on to the street, with donkeys and horses in them.  That’s the first time I’ve ever seen something like that.  There was a public toilet under construction – maybe it would look more attractive in day light hours!

Darjeeling lights

Darjeeling lights

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