Day 99: Toy Train to Darjeeling

Trip Start Jun 19, 2008
Trip End Dec 17, 2008

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Flag of India  , West Bengal,
Sunday, September 28, 2008

We had breakfast at Khana Khazana-which turned out not to have a breakfast menu so ended up having tomato soup and french-fries. We then hurried over to Silliguri Junction Railway which was across the street from our hotel (Hotel Mountain View).  The train ended up being half an hour late, so the Andrew, Eric and Will amused themselves by putting 1 Rs coins on the railway and trying to get them run over, until beggar children tried to steal the coins off the tracks.
We had First class tickets on the toy train, which was a lot of fun.   It basically meant we got cushioned personal seats instead of a plastic bench seat and a funky decorated train car.   The tickets were 250 Rs each, about $5.  It left at 10:30am and we arrived at around 5pm in Darjeeling. 
The train did switch backs up the mountain, so most of the time we actually ended up going backwards.   The train ride went through about three different types of terrain.   We started in Silliguri in a flat plain with small bushy trees and yellow grass everywhere.   Then we started to climb the hill and it instantly turned into a jungle atmosphere, with waterfalls everywhere and plants so big and overgrown that sometimes they slapped me in the face through the window when I wasn't paying attention.   When the train had to stop to do the switch back we could reach out and grab the flowers that grew outside the windows; they were all shapes sizes and colors, the boys had fun throwing them at each other. 
A young boy decided that he liked us and stood next to us on the train.   Except he spoke less Hindi then we do and absolutely no English, so it was more just smiling and laughing at each other.     At one point he jumped off the train and then jumped back on in car behind us.   Of course a light bulb went off in all the boys' heads that the train was going slow enough that we can get off, run beside it, and then get back on.   So we all gave it a try.  The train would follow the road for the most part, so we could just run on the road, except sometimes it changed sides and you would be forced to run off a cliff, or a giant ditch would appear.   So you had to time it right. 
Once we got to Darjeeling we got a jeep to take us to the nearest trekking agency and begged with him to arrange a guide for us for the next day for the Sringalila Ridge Trek (usually you have to give a couple days notice).   He finally gave in, and gave us a decent price.  It was 650 Rs/person/day.  So for a four day trek it was 2600 Rs, or $55.  This included three meals a day, water, lodging, two guides, chai breaks, and transportation two and from Darjeeling-we only had to pay extra for entrance to the national  park which the trail cut through 100Rs for foreigners.  Pretty good deal compared to what you can get in America.  
We then checked into Andy's hotel, which is run by a nice older woman, the cheapest room came with free hot water in a bucket and for three people in one room it was 350 Rs.   It was really clean and for some reason smelled really nice.
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starlagurl on

Very interesting...
Looks like a lot of fun, I like the videos!

Louise Brown
TravelPod Community Manager

vicdomrare on

Great pictures, great videos. You guys are crazy jumping off the train like that. It is great to feel like we are part of your adventures, even if we live them from the our cozy chairs. Keep safe, and looking forward to the day you get home.

Love Vicki

vicdomrare on

Heather, just wanted you to know that I love the picture of you standing with your face by the gold pole on the train. You are truly beautiful! (inside and out) Andrew, not sure if you took the picture but that one is definitely a keeper.


bradandjan on

Day 99
Heather, thanks for the update! Fantastic pics and video... Ummm running along the train, I'm glad it wasn't a bullet train! Looks like a ton of fun. Great seeing you 2 nite. Keep having fun, stay safe and happy. Dad Oh, Charlie says meow meow....

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