Darjeeling doesn’t feel like the rest of India, it’s cold, filled with beautiful Himalayan faces and the people don’t stare which gets a big tick from me. The diet of chow mien, momos, wanton soup and scrumptiously dense Tibetan bread is just what the doctor ordered after a day wandering around in the clouds.
Initially I was disappointed that Darjeeling was almost always engulfed by cloud and even though it does seem a waste being blind to the dramatic emerald green valleys and foothills surrounding you, there is something magical about being cocooned in cloud.
I spent most of my time here sipping Darjeeling tea, eating cream cakes and exchanging smiles with the lovely locals.
This is the view from my guest house one morning, it felt like I was looking out of an aeroplane and next thing I knew I was inside the mist – my blow dry was a waste of time that morning.
I decided to visit the Zoo despite my reservations, it has a snow leopard breeding program so I thought it might be more of a nature reserve than an old school zoo. Unfortunately not. It was horrible seeing such beautiful and well adapted creatures confined to such tiny cages, especially the leopards which were pacing up and down theirs in three small strides.
Within the grounds of the Zoo is the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute where I learnt that Tenzing Norgay was a legend, Edmund Hillary was a Kiwi (I was convinced he was British) and the first women to climb Everest was from Japan – you go girl.
I also payed a visit to the Tibetan refugee centre which showcased a politically charged photography exhibition along with a workshop selling goods made by the refugees. If it wasn’t for this adorable Tibetan man I would never have found my way, he took me under his wing and led me all the way to the centre. There was a lot of banter between him and the locals on the way, I think they thought he had pulled.
I was so relieved when the boys returned back safely and without AMS although Rat looked a bit ropey 😉 As soon as they returned we headed to the pub for celebratory drinks and a slide show, I was dying to see the photos.
I couldn’t be prouder of them, what an amazing achievement!
After spending 11 days in Darjeeling in total and having been given the nickname Miss Darjeeling by Ratty & Luke, I have to say that I have completely fallen in love with this adorable hill top town. The people are so kind and have the most genuine smiles, the colonial buildings remind me of home and the nip in the air and fairy lights give me that fuzzy festive feeling.
Goodbye for now Darjeeling!