First glimpse of the Himalayas

Trip Start Nov 02, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of India  , West Bengal,
Sunday, November 20, 2011

I've just arrived in Darjeeling and it's stunning, I got the sleeper train from Kolkata but there was a few dodgy going's on involving was seemed to be the police and prisoner (maybe 2) and some Indian guy being very aggressive with them??  Don't know exactly what was going on but it was right beside me!

Anyway, I arrived and jumped a shared jeep with 3 young Canadians that I met in the Blue Sky Cafe in Kolkata, plus an Italian couple which made the numbers us to six sharing.  I jumped the front seat of the jeep which I loved, the trip took us 3hrs 30mins to get to Darjeeling and my first views of the Himalaya's were snow capped and mighty!

Strangely enough I don't feel like I'm still in India, the steeper we climb up the mountain, I am struck by the amount of tiered fields which are all cut into the side of the mountain.  It's a fascinating drive up the mountain, the people here look very Nepalese, and it's my first experience of seeing them carry all sorts of loads using the baskets with head straps.  All the houses here are really colorful and again all built steeply into the side of the mountains, they use bamboo here as scaffolding poles and there is a lot of building work going on.

The main square has bands on in the early evening, the first one I see is a brass band and it draws quite a crowd however, I delighted the next evening with the pipe band, its funny watching them trying to swing their kilts... it's just not working for them it's funny.  They are all a bit out of tune and the major keeps tossing his stick up but then not being able to catch it, it's hilarious.  Down from the square is full of stalls selling various items fish and spices and woollen hats etc. and the main part of the town is heaving hundreds of stalls which I enjoy wandering through.

I book onto the Toy Train which is one of the highest steam trains anywhere, and I enjoy a couple of hours along the side of the mountain which was excellent although very steep in places.  I also visit Tiger Hill for the fantastic panoramic views of the Himalayas and India's highest mountain Kanchenjunga 8,586m (28,169 ft).

As we're in Darjeeling I can't visit without seeing the tea plantations which are everywhere, women are bent over in the fields picking tea and then carrying their crop from the fields in their baskets, my first taste of Darjeeling tea is a Golden Orange blend which I really enjoyed.

On leaving Darjeeling I was lucky enough to share a jeep with the young Canadian guys down to get our first bus, in fact we ended up traveling the whole way to Pokhara in Nepal together.  A bus journey after our jeep which had a blow out on the way down, we then walked to the Immigration post to exit India, before crossing a huge bridge and into Nepal, it's my first experience of walking over a border, it was really interesting.  
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