Thursday, December 10, 2015

F-A-D !!!!

Wednesday December 9th 2015 – Darjeeling

Dinner was the same'ish as the previous evening and probably will be tonight. A soup, this time cilantro, lemon. The Minestrone was better. A couple cold vegetable salads. A bunch of stuff in brown stuff and some other stuff in red stuff. The same chicken stuff as the previous night, but this time it got to share space with the rest of the table. I also had tap water. Yes I was living on the edge, and best of all, nothing happened.

I got back to my room about nine and I had a new addition to my room. The evening before I was in my jammies (read t-shirt only) reading and housekeeping knocked on the door several times. He yelled something and I said “No thank you” and he said “Okay”. Well tonight when I came in I noticed that the lighting had changed and in bed was a large plump red hot water bottle all snuggled down under the covers. That was probably what I 'No thank you’d to last night. It lived up to it's name too. It was hot! It stayed warm even until morning. For the first time in Darjeeling I actually felt almost too warm.

Yesterday's driver and I were supposed to meet if it was clear and drive to Tiger Hill to see the Himalayas. Seeing them was supposed to be one of the highlights of visiting Darjeeling. They had been obscured the entire time I've been here. If they were not viable then I was going to ride the Toy Train to Ghoom and back. Then maybe give the chairlift thing a go. At 530 I got out of bed and took a look. Clouds. Phooey.

World's third highest mountain - from my room
I got out of bed an hour later and pulled back the curtains. Fuck-A-Duck! Fuck-A-Duck! There they were all lit up in the morning's light. It was so excited. I scurried around the room muttering F-A-D (see above), F-A-D! Where did I put my camera? F-A-D! I have to catch this before the clouds return! Luckily the clouds stayed way. I hope the pictures translate just how awesome the view was from my room this morning.

Hot water things and then hot air things and some clothes and I was on my way down to breakfast. No one to visit with. Just me, the staff and half a dozen Indian men who looked military to me for some reason. I could see their breath as they talked, no wonder we were all wearing parkas for breakfast. Except for the monkey at the window, breakfast was normal in every respect. Immediately after a couple pieces of toast and some hot, but not good coffee I was in the lobby. The receptionist said my driver was waiting.

If I had know that I would have skipped toast and got something later. Tiger Hill is 10 miles past Ghoom. We are at 7000 feet here in Darjeeling, Ghoom is 7500 and Tiger Hill is 8500. Up and up. At the top of the hill the view was spectacular. When it is totally clear Mount Everest and Lhotse can be seen far to the west. Today it was just the Third highest mountain and it was looking good. Would have been better at sunrise, but woulda coulda.

WE drove back down the hill to Ghoom to visit a 'Three fer'. The memorial to the Indian Gurkha’s of WWII, the place where the toy train has to make a climbing 180 degree turn to gain elevation to get over the crest of the mountain and the WC. Toss in a little Himalaya gazing as well.

Hen on to a monastery that was built in 1850 and was really interesting. With murals that reminded me on those Chinese dragons. Buddha was surrounded by the same creatures on the altar. I would have taken a couple pictures inside, bu it was pretty dark and without a tripod I'd have to us a flash and that would ruin it totally. Maybe I'll find a picture on the web and inset a link to it.

I am staying at a hotel that promised Wi-Fi in the lobby and have yet to be able to connect to it. Last official stop for the day was the internet cafe to see about flight arrangements for tomorrow and hotel reservations. Up until this morning I really wasn't certain where I was going next. The little airport in Bagdora only services four cities. Two where I didn't want to go, one back to Calcutta that I'd already seen enough for me and one to Guwahati in Assam. From there is a long drive to Kaziranga Park where the One Horned Rhinoceros lived and a couple tigers too. If things work out I might be able to get two days at the park and then fly direct back to Mumbai for the flight home. If the park doesn't work out, the airport is large enough to get me someplace else for a couple days, before Bombay. After the credit cards were accepted at the airline and the hotel, then came the rub, as Billy Shakespeare would say.

Tomorrow in Darjeeling the local tea workers are having a city wide strike. The shops are closed. No cars are allowed to move. The joint shuts down. From 6 am to 6 pm. The plane is scheduled to depart Bagdora and 330 pm. With 2 hours before flight time and 3 to 3 ½ hours to Bagdora from Darjeeling that puts hotel departure via taxi around 10 am. Oops That ain't gonna work so good. The plan is to leave here at 0500. It could have been such a nice final morning in Darjeeling too.

So besides an early start tomorrow and several additional hours spent in a small rural airport than planned. I'll have to shower tonight, because there is no hot water in the morning until 630. I guess I could stay here an extra day, it really is a nice city, but time is getting short in India for me and when you lose a day traveling it makes all those days on the calendar suddenly seem a lot closer together than before.

We said Adieu until the next morning and I began walking downhill to the train station. The train I saw at the loop was the working train with the Diesel locomotive. I wanted to see the 1890's steam train locomotives that are used for the tourist joy rides between Darjeeling and Ghoom. There are a lot of little streets all switchbacks and intersections, but if you keep going down eventually you'll come to the train station.

Along the way I can hear chanting coming my way uphill. There are no cars coming by and people are getting scarcer and scarcer. The chanting is getting closer. I’m starting o remember those State Department emails they have been sending out lately. – Avoid large crowds – Avoid political demonstrations – I'm on this box canyon of a street, no place to go left or right. Impossible for my fluffy out of shape body to get up the darned hill and I begin to see the banner spanning the street being carried around the next corner towards me. Then the throng of people follow the banner, all yelling and chanting. Most in language the government understands and “We want freedom, now!” in a language that everyone understands. Maybe if I stand behind this truck, when the rubber bullets and the tear gas flies I'll be fine. Uhh .. maybe this truck IS the truck bomb. Errr.. maybe … by this time the crowd had passed and it was just Grill to Spare, cars and cars twisting their way down hill behind the marchers.

Down at rail side I found the Toy train, and it was the steam, not Diesel engine that was switching cars around the rail yard. I shot some pictures. I don't think any of the pictures will win any awards, but they are of interest of days long past. It's been choo chooing since the 1890's bringing English workers for the East India Company up in the summer to get away from the heat in Calcutta, and taking tea for export down. Now it still does that, but the British are now tourists, but the tea is the same. Ghoom's station is the highest in the world, if you are ever a contestant on Jeopardy.

The marchers had apparently reached their destination, because the traffic was moving. I caught a taxi back up the hill to my hotel to find that the internet was now working. I logged on and could get FaceBook, words only no images, but neither of my web email address would connect. I tried for an hour and came back to my room and my cubby with the worlds vista at my feet. Next stop Assam.
I got out of bed an hour later and pulled back the curtains. Fuck-A-Duck! Fuck-A-Duck! There they were all lit up in the morning's light. It was so excited. I scurried around the room muttering F-A-D (see above), F-A-D! Where did I put my camera? F-A-D! I have to catch this before the clouds return! Luckily the clouds stayed way. I hope the pictures translate just how awesome the view was from my room this morning.

Hot water things and then hot air things and some clothes and I was on my way down to breakfast. No one to visit with. Just me, the staff and half a dozen Indian men who looked military to me for some reason. I could see their breath as they talked, no wonder we were all wearing parkas for breakfast. Except for the monkey at the window, breakfast was normal in every respect. Immediately after a couple pieces of toast and some hot, but not good coffee I was in the lobby. The receptionist said my driver was waiting.

If I had know that I would have skipped toast and got something later. Tiger Hill is 10 miles past Ghoom. We are at 7000 feet here in Darjeeling, Ghoom is 7500 and Tiger Hill is 8500. Up and up. At the top of the hill the view was spectacular. When it is totally clear Mount Everest and Lhotse can be seen far to the west. Today it was just the Third highest mountain and it was looking good. Would have been better at sunrise, but woulda coulda.

WE drove back down the hill to Ghoom to visit a 'Three fer'. The memorial to the Indian Gurkha’s of WWII, the place where the toy train has to make a climbing 180 degree turn to gain elevation to get over the crest of the mountain and the WC. Toss in a little Himalaya gazing as well.

Hen on to a monastery that was built in 1850 and was really interesting. With murals that reminded me on those Chinese dragons. Buddha was surrounded by the same creatures on the altar. I would have taken a couple pictures inside, bu it was pretty dark and without a tripod I'd have to us a flash and that would ruin it totally. Maybe I'll find a picture on the web and inset a link to it.

I am staying at a hotel that promised Wi-Fi in the lobby and have yet to be able to connect to it. Last official stop for the day was the internet cafe to see about flight arrangements for tomorrow and hotel reservations. Up until this morning I really wasn't certain where I was going next. The little airport in Bagdora only services four cities. Two where I didn't want to go, one back to Calcutta that I'd already seen enough for me and one to Guwahati in Assam. From there is a long drive to Kaziranga Park where the One Horned Rhinoceros lived and a couple tigers too. If things work out I might be able to get two days at the park and then fly direct back to Mumbai for the flight home. If the park doesn't work out, the airport is large enough to get me someplace else for a couple days, before Bombay. After the credit cards were accepted at the airline and the hotel, then came the rub, as Billy Shakespeare would say.

Tomorrow in Darjeeling the local tea workers are having a city wide strike. The shops are closed. No cars are allowed to move. The joint shuts down. From 6 am to 6 pm. The plane is scheduled to depart Bagdora and 330 pm. With 2 hours before flight time and 3 to 3 ½ hours to Bagdora from Darjeeling that puts hotel departure via taxi around 10 am. Oops That ain't gonna work so good. The plan is to leave here at 0500. It could have been such a nice final morning in Darjeeling too.

So besides an early start tomorrow and several additional hours spent in a small rural airport than planned. I'll have to shower tonight, because there is no hot water in the morning until 630. I guess I could stay here an extra day, it really is a nice city, but time is getting short in India for me and when you lose a day traveling it makes all those days on the calendar suddenly seem a lot closer together than before.

We said Adieu until the next morning and I began walking downhill to the train station. The train I saw at the loop was the working train with the Diesel locomotive. I wanted to see the 1890's steam train locomotives that are used for the tourist joy rides between Darjeeling and Ghoom. There are a lot of little streets all switchbacks and intersections, but if you keep going down eventually you'll come to the train station.

Along the way I can hear chanting coming my way uphill. There are no cars coming by and people are getting scarcer and scarcer. The chanting is getting closer. I’m starting o remember those State Department emails they have been sending out lately. – Avoid large crowds – Avoid political demonstrations – I'm on this box canyon of a street, no place to go left or right. Impossible for my fluffy out of shape body to get up the darned hill and I begin to see the banner spanning the street being carried around the next corner towards me. Then the throng of people follow the banner, all yelling and chanting. Most in language the government understands and “We want freedom, now!” in a language that everyone understands. Maybe if I stand behind this truck, when the rubber bullets and the tear gas flies I'll be fine. Uhh .. maybe this truck IS the truck bomb. Errr.. maybe … by this time the crowd had passed and it was just Grill to Spare, cars and cars twisting their way down hill behind the marchers.

Down at rail side I found the Toy train, and it was the steam, not Diesel engine that was switching cars around the rail yard. I shot some pictures. I don't think any of the pictures will win any awards, but they are of interest of days long past. It's been choo chooing since the 1890's bringing English workers for the East India Company up in the summer to get away from the heat in Calcutta, and taking tea for export down. Now it still does that, but the British are now tourists, but the tea is the same. Ghoom's station is the highest in the world, if you are ever a contestant on Jeopardy.

The marchers had apparently reached their destination, because the traffic was moving. I caught a taxi back up the hill to my hotel to find that the internet was now working. I logged on and could get FaceBook, words only no images, but neither of my web email address would connect. I tried for an hour and came back to my room and my cubby with the worlds vista at my feet. Next stop Assam.
I got out of bed an hour later and pulled back the curtains. Fuck-A-Duck! Fuck-A-Duck! There they were all lit up in the morning's light. It was so excited. I scurried around the room muttering F-A-D (see above), F-A-D! Where did I put my camera? F-A-D! I have to catch this before the clouds return! Luckily the clouds stayed way. I hope the pictures translate just how awesome the view was from my room this morning.

Hot water things and then hot air things and some clothes and I was on my way down to breakfast. No one to visit with. Just me, the staff and half a dozen Indian men who looked military to me for some reason. I could see their breath as they talked, no wonder we were all wearing parkas for breakfast. Except for the monkey at the window, breakfast was normal in every respect. Immediately after a couple pieces of toast and some hot, but not good coffee I was in the lobby. The receptionist said my driver was waiting.

If I had know that I would have skipped toast and got something later. Tiger Hill is 10 miles past Ghoom. We are at 7000 feet here in Darjeeling, Ghoom is 7500 and Tiger Hill is 8500. Up and up. At the top of the hill the view was spectacular. When it is totally clear Mount Everest and Lhotse can be seen far to the west. Today it was just the Third highest mountain and it was looking good. Would have been better at sunrise, but woulda coulda.

WE drove back down the hill to Ghoom to visit a 'Three fer'. The memorial to the Indian Gurkha’s of WWII, the place where the toy train has to make a climbing 180 degree turn to gain elevation to get over the crest of the mountain and the WC. Toss in a little Himalaya gazing as well.

Hen on to a monastery that was built in 1850 and was really interesting. With murals that reminded me on those Chinese dragons. Buddha was surrounded by the same creatures on the altar. I would have taken a couple pictures inside, bu it was pretty dark and without a tripod I'd have to us a flash and that would ruin it totally. Maybe I'll find a picture on the web and inset a link to it.

I am staying at a hotel that promised Wi-Fi in the lobby and have yet to be able to connect to it. Last official stop for the day was the internet cafe to see about flight arrangements for tomorrow and hotel reservations. Up until this morning I really wasn't certain where I was going next. The little airport in Bagdora only services four cities. Two where I didn't want to go, one back to Calcutta that I'd already seen enough for me and one to Guwahati in Assam. From there is a long drive to Kaziranga Park where the One Horned Rhinoceros lived and a couple tigers too. If things work out I might be able to get two days at the park and then fly direct back to Mumbai for the flight home. If the park doesn't work out, the airport is large enough to get me someplace else for a couple days, before Bombay. After the credit cards were accepted at the airline and the hotel, then came the rub, as Billy Shakespeare would say.

Tomorrow in Darjeeling the local tea workers are having a city wide strike. The shops are closed. No cars are allowed to move. The joint shuts down. From 6 am to 6 pm. The plane is scheduled to depart Bagdora and 330 pm. With 2 hours before flight time and 3 to 3 ½ hours to Bagdora from Darjeeling that puts hotel departure via taxi around 10 am. Oops That ain't gonna work so good. The plan is to leave here at 0500. It could have been such a nice final morning in Darjeeling too.

So besides an early start tomorrow and several additional hours spent in a small rural airport than planned. I'll have to shower tonight, because there is no hot water in the morning until 630. I guess I could stay here an extra day, it really is a nice city, but time is getting short in India for me and when you lose a day traveling it makes all those days on the calendar suddenly seem a lot closer together than before.

We said Adieu until the next morning and I began walking downhill to the train station. The train I saw at the loop was the working train with the Diesel locomotive. I wanted to see the 1890's steam train locomotives that are used for the tourist joy rides between Darjeeling and Ghoom. There are a lot of little streets all switchbacks and intersections, but if you keep going down eventually you'll come to the train station.

Along the way I can hear chanting coming my way uphill. There are no cars coming by and people are getting scarcer and scarcer. The chanting is getting closer. I’m starting o remember those State Department emails they have been sending out lately. – Avoid large crowds – Avoid political demonstrations – I'm on this box canyon of a street, no place to go left or right. Impossible for my fluffy out of shape body to get up the darned hill and I begin to see the banner spanning the street being carried around the next corner towards me. Then the throng of people follow the banner, all yelling and chanting. Most in language the government understands and “We want freedom, now!” in a language that everyone understands. Maybe if I stand behind this truck, when the rubber bullets and the tear gas flies I'll be fine. Uhh .. maybe this truck IS the truck bomb. Errr.. maybe … by this time the crowd had passed and it was just Grill to Spare, cars and cars twisting their way down hill behind the marchers.

Down at rail side I found the Toy train, and it was the steam, not Diesel engine that was switching cars around the rail yard. I shot some pictures. I don't think any of the pictures will win any awards, but they are of interest of days long past. It's been choo chooing since the 1890's bringing English workers for the East India Company up in the summer to get away from the heat in Calcutta, and taking tea for export down. Now it still does that, but the British are now tourists, but the tea is the same. Ghoom's station is the highest in the world, if you are ever a contestant on Jeopardy.

The marchers had apparently reached their destination, because the traffic was moving. I caught a taxi back up the hill to my hotel to find that the internet was now working. I logged on and could get FaceBook, words only no images, but neither of my web email address would connect. I tried for an hour and came back to my room and my cubby with the worlds vista at my feet. Next stop Assam.







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