Thursday, March 11, 2010

Day 5

The overnight journey to New Jaipalguri was an easy one. My sleeper class bunk cost 260Rs(4quid) and was really quite comfy. I shared my compartment with Kerry, a Slovakian girl called Katarina and an Indian family of eight sharing five bunks. From the train station it was a further 3hours by jeep (120Rs) to Darjeeling with our new friend Katarina. On first sight, Darjeeling is a little on the ugly side and not the mountain retreat I had imagined.After a bit of a hike and viewing a couple of shitholes, Kerry and I, both short of breath, found 'The Grace Inn' and dumped our bags. By this time it was early afteroon and Darjeeling was well and truly in the clouds. It was frustrating not being able to see the mountains but it gave me chance to see the town. After the heat of Kolkata, Darjeeling felt freezing, and so drinking chai is what people do here. Up above the ugliness of the main through road is a pedestrianised square, where locals sit on benches, chat and drink chai, it's just perfect.
A short walk from here, past market stalls selling all the essential woolens, an enticing cafe called Hasty Tasty was having a magnetic effect on me. With large glass windows offering sweeping views of the valley and a menu full of the tempting unknown, I had a feeling i would be spending alot of time here. After a great meal and some more chai in the square,it seemed Darjeeling was heading to bed, so I followed suit. If the early bird catches the worm then the early Neil sees the mountains. I set my alarm for 6am, had a final look outside for the mountains, no show, and hit the hay.

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