We've found heaven!!

Trip Start Sep 28, 2008
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Trip End Oct 12, 2008


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Flag of India  , West Bengal,
Saturday, October 4, 2008

Wow..... there's no way to describe how wonderful it is to get somewhere that's cleaner, cooler, not nearly as crowded.... we are in Darjeeling which is in the foot hills of the himalayas; came by jeep which is the first time gabe has not been totally cramped up.... we paid 1200 rupees = $23... well worth it for the comfort... of course, extremely narrow roads, lots of potholes but it was somewhat paved and the fog kept me from being able to see how far I would fall to my death!! After the 14 hour bus ride, it was a piece of cake!! Of course we had the blaring music but when he heard me yelling over the sound to talk to Gabe , i think he got the hint!

The town, so far, still has its fair share of trash and you'll look over the mountain and tons of trash will have been dumped. Saw water buffalo and monkeys along with the cows of course. But it is such a sensory relief to be around some greenery.. Huge palm fronds, bananna trees, tons of bamboo which I've seen used in various ways. The most interesting was as a ladder. There will be buses with people inside, luggage on top and people on top of the luggage! How no one falls off is beyond me! And then it starts to rain... makes me realize the ridiculous things i can find to complain about.

So far I still have not gotten sick and am keeping my fingers crossed. Ironically, I've had less trouble w/my stomach here than I do generally in the States... maybe its the acidophilus I've been taking along with those pills to build up my immune system.
We've stayed at nice hotels which means hot water and Western toilets. Much to Gabe's chagrin, people think we are married. The place we're at now is very nice but I feel like Alice in Wonderland...all the furniture is so tiny. Clearly everything is designed for much smaller people than me and gabe. The furniture in the hall is made of bamboo and there's little seating arrangements, along with a swing and leather look alike furniture downstairs... Its costing about $80 a night and comfort and clean is well worth the cost. We have walked and looked at the items for sale in the market and its so nice to not have people yelling at us to come into their store. Many of these people are Nepalese/Tibetan and there are far more Muslims here.
Gabe was especially happy to have a very modern coffee shop right across from our hotel & its nice not to have a road outside....silence has new meaning to me now. We got a coffee and vegan shake... excellent and they spoke English, with songs like Unchained Melody playing no less. Now I understand why foreigners seek out others and any familiar surroundings.
We ate at a very busy restaurant which we took as a good sign that we wouldn't get sick, got 2 thali, 2 1 liters of mineral water for less than $5. It will make paying $7 for a sandwich seem ridiculous. This place is especially nice for Gabe who has been so on overload with the filth and noise. Truly, it is like a breath of fresh air even though by most standards it is still polluted and crowded but compared to Calcutta, it is FANTASTIC!! There's even a place we plan to check out called Joe's pub & have a beer or two.

Hopefully we'll be able to get up early enough, like by 3a.m. to make the trek to Tiger Hill to see the sunrise. Its supposed to be quite a site. I hope the fog clears enough for us to see better. We don't know yet how we'll get back to Siliguri. One thing, it is very difficult to get around here. You just don't jump into a taxi and go very far & most of the taxi's are rigged. The buses are so jam packed that I suspect I might find hands on me that I'd rather not have. The other choices are either bike or auto rickshaws. Here, there are not nearly as many vehicles, most are small, and so far I've not seen any rickshaws.... one reason why its not so noisy. It is indescribable just how loud it is when every vehicle on the road uses their horn. Its a form of communication and on the back of the trucks/cars it reads " use horn." Well, they got that part down well. Its the signal for coming around a curve, for moving over, for get out of the way, to warn you as you walk that someone's behind you and get over before you get hit!

This internet cafe is the nicest yet. There are 4 computers, and my god, the chairs are actually padded, we didn't have to remove our shoes to come in, they furnish headphones, and best of all, it is CLEAN. This as opposed to the one we went to last night where the keys were filthy, sticky, barely room to move...

People, we have got it made in the US!! For all of the angst we hear about how others feel about our country, every where we go we see Western influence. In just a few hours, I've seen Abercrombie shirts, Guess, Adidas, Puma, and Gap along with many wearing jeans and tshirts... even the manequins in the modern stores are white, the billboards that feature fancy condos show white people all enjoying. Granted, I suspect much of the clothes are knock offs but still..... and the people wearing them are Indian, Tibetan. Saw a couple Buddhist monks - no, they were wearing the traditional garb and had shaved heads. I've looked for a place to get my nose pierced but haven't seen any yet. Don't know for sure how well that would help my job hunt!!

We are to be here anywhere from 2-4 days but considering its so much nicer than calcutta, I suspect we'll stay as long as we can & just venture out from here. You have to be with a guide to do any trekking - its a way the youth can have a job & keep up foreigners by falling off a cliff or being mauled by an animal!

I will be able to keep up fairly well with this blog as long as we're here as this computer is so much easier to type on than the others Ive used. Best wishes to all....namaste.
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sandakpu
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Dude/Duddess... am from Darjeeling myself... currently in Canada.... Darjeeling has lot more to offer than what meets the eye.. if possible visit Mirik and stay in their tourist hut... if possible take a Landrover drive to Sandakpu.. where from U can see Everest and 7 Highest mountains in the world... if possible.. eat Momo at Penang... if possible.. visit Chowrasta and go round the mall road.. if possible do not forget to post pictures... if possible do enjoy the festival of Dusherra while U are there.. if U want it I can tell my family to invite U for celebrations...

But most important of all.. please do not forget to register to vote... as the world depends on America and your votes do matter a lot..

All the best for your visit n if U have any problems at all please feel free to call my sister at 98324-97531.. she will help U out.. Welcome to Darjeeling.. hope U'll end up loving our place.... and do pass on my regards to your son...

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