The ‘plane was put to bed, we were led through the Terminal and out to a 4x4 for the two hour drive to the hotel up in the hills in Kurseong
. It was dark for most of the journey but we could see the strings of lights in the hills around. The journey took us through tree-lined narrow roads which after the rains were suffering from lack of repairs. An increasing number of hairpin bends eventually led to the outskirts of the town situated at 1458m above sea level (almost a mile).
The hotel manager and staff were extremely welcoming, providing us with a much needed cup of Darjeeling tea, and a delicious pre-ordered meal. Yet again we retired, to a suite this time, quite tired from events of the day but eager to see the view from the room in the morning.
At last on our way again for the 1.5hr flight to Bagdogra, another air force base. The airport is near to the town of Siliguri and is the closest airport for access to Darjeeling. The visibility improved as we went further east and then turned to the north at Katihar. A little further on, there was a sudden exclamation from the front: Patrick could see the snow-covered hills – our first sighting of the Himalaya. Unfortunately, all I could see were clouds on the horizon! It was very noticeable how much greener the countryside was beneath us as we made our approach into Bagdogra. Our routing took us between two rivers, the Mahananda and Teesta . After an excellent landing, we were directed to park on the Helicopter apron and were immediately surrounded by hordes of onlookers, including the VIPs from the aforementioned ‘plane seen at Delhi and Patna. No handlers this time, so the terminal staff had been asked to provide assistance.