A Little Closer to Heaven

We left the lowlands of the Ganges valley a few days ago and used taxis, planes, SUVs and even a little train to make our way into the foothills of the Himalayas.  Our first stop was for 2 nights at an eccentric and kitschy old hotel known as Cochran Place.  The  hospitality was warm and we felt strangely at home in a through-the-looking-glass sort of way

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This is also where we tasted our first cups of local Darjeeling tea.  Definitely our idea of heaven!

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After filling ourselves with tea and looking at all the cool stuff in the hotel we managed a good walk in the impressive countryside.

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Huge conifers somehow dignify the insanely steep slopes.

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Just to prove we were here.  And yes, those are native rhodies blooming behind us.  And on the roadside below:

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If you’ve seen the documentary about the Indian railway you might remember that the Darjeeling area has one of the last small gage railways and a few working steam engines as well.  The ride we took was using a diesel engine but was a kick anyway.

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So, we chug out of the station- oh, and the tracks are just on the road long with everything else.

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Taken out the window  of the train, see what I mean about sharing the road?

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a tea ‘garden’ as the plantations are called.  the workers below are actually weeding, not picking.

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But here’s some fresh green tea.

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The air up here is clean but there’s been fog and mist every day.  Yesterday AM we were amazed to look out the hotel window and finally see the Himalayas.  Um, well, if you squint and stare at the sky above the trees you might see them!

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We’re in Darjeeling for a full week so we’ve gotten into a routine long walks in the morning and kicked-back afternoons. here’s what we see on our walks:

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The population here is largely Tibetan and Nepali as well as Indian.  The other evening there was a ‘Free Tibet’ vigil below our window-

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In a few days we make our way out of the hills and on Monday will fly to London.

It’s been fun sharing our trip – thanks for all the comments and good wishes.  We’ll gladly show you the other 300 photos when we see you all back home!

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