Postcards from Abroad

Whether your dream is to stay in a colonial-era bungalow in the middle of a tea plantation, an Indian princely palace, or to cruise in luxury the Irrawaddy to Mandalay, we never tire of searching for your next great travel destination. This is the place to share with us your most recent adventures.

Postcard from Darjeeling

James and CateNamaste (Hello)

After an extremely long journey via Helsinki, Delhi and Bagdodra we were relieved and pleased to arrive in Darjeeling. The drive from Bagdodra airport began with a meander through villages avoiding wandering dogs, cows, goats, ducks, foraging pigs and people of all ages. Soon beautiful tea bushes dominated the landscape interspersed with trees. Whilst we watched the pickers at work the road narrowed and we began to wind our way up a single track road built by the British in the 1850's. It proved to be treacherous with steep hairpin bends, giant pot holes, landslides and general chaos and was totally inadequate but we made it!

 

Darjeeling tea plantation

Darjeeling meaning ' the place of the thunderbolt' straddles a ridge up in the Himalayas and from here one gets amazing views of the third highest mountain,Kanchenjunga, and other snow capped peaks. In many ways it is quite similar to Shimla e.g. large town square, church, dilapidated houses dominating the hillside and the nearby government house. Our first early rising at 4am proved worthwhile, we watched the sun rise from the top of Tiger Hill and the mountains slowly came alive in an array of colours. The weather was perfect if not a little chilly and we soon made friends with other excited Indians all clammering to take photographs. 

Everest

A visit to the tiny old Ghoom monastery proved delightfully quiet in comparison, followed by a trip on the Toy train, a steam train joy ride on part of the 1881 railway built to carry tea for export. We chuffed and tooted our way across and along the Hill Cart Road and were so close to stalls and houses we could touch them as we passed.

Ghoom Monastery Darjeeling

Darjeeling Toy train

The Mountaineering Institute was fascinating. Of particular interest in the museum were the various expeditions up Everest with examples of the personal equipment used. When one witnessed the simplicity of this compared with what is used today you realise how great those men really are. Particularly moving was the grave of Tenzing Norgay upon which was written by Sir Edmund Hillary, ' I have never regarded myself as much of a hero but Tenzing, I believe undoubtedly was. From humble beginnings he had achieved the summit of the world'. 

Tenzing Norgay

Although not keen on enclosed animals the Zoolological Park contains many rare species, some of which are being used in breeding programs to combat extinction. The Royal Bengal Tiger stole the show. It appeared from the undergrowth, turned and lay down in the sunshine, its body and paws vast. My favourite bird was the Himalayan Pheasant, the national bird of Nepal with its exquisite colours.

The organic Tea Estate, one of the 78 in Darjeeling aptly named Happy Valley was most enlightening. The process seemed quite involved starting with the hand plucking and ending with the grading. The grand finale was the tea tasting, a very similar activity to wine tasting although with wine one might swallow a bit more, accidentally of course!

Next stop Kolkata, a 3 hour drive and flight away, and yet more delicious curries and then Bhubaneswar.

James and Cate

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