25.05.2010 - 26.05.2010
Shila cooked us some breakfast of weird German bread with onion and carrot for breakfast – not very tasty but edible when combined with some boiled egg. It was agreed by Shila that we should take a taxi to Kurseong, buy train tickets, come back for lunch then take a taxi with our bags to catch the train. We searched for a taxi at the ‘taxi-stand’ where Shila had sent us but there were none in sight so we walked to Cochrane palace to get one from there. We walked past lots of school children on the way, all going the same way as us but a lot slower and resting in the shade. They all said ‘Hi’ or ‘Bye’ as we walked past and we returned the same. It was a much clearer day today and we could see mountains behind mountains which is the clearest we’ve seen it so our walk was interrupted by several photo stops. We caught a taxi to Kurseong and found the train station closed. We bought an English newspaper and some eye drops for Sam as he woke up with itchy eyes from all of the tea dust yesterday and sat to wait at the station.
We approached an empty window at the station and the guy there told us to go to the other window which had a large queue so we waited patiently as people pushed in front of us and when we got to the front, guess what, go back to the other counter which obviously now had quite a large queue. When we finally got to the front we were told that we had to come back an hour before the train. I was annoyed to say the least. We got a taxi back to Makaibari and said our goodbyes, gave Shila a card from the paper factory that we had visited and in return she gave us both a cream peace scarf for a safe journey. Shila went off to work and Dipika made us noodles and soup for lunch before we headed back to Kurseong. It was 50 minutes before the 1.35pm train when the ticket man said ‘sorry come back at 2.30 as this train will be late and will arrive at 3pm’, handily exactly the time that the later train should have been. We hung around at the station reading and eating biscuits. 2.30 came and went with no sign of tickets but we did get our first glimpse of a moving train at 1.30 as a diesel came powering down the street from Darjeeling. Sam ran off to take photos of it in the street whilst I watched our bags. The train went past the station then the points were reversed and it backed into the station. The second train of the day arrived at 2.40 but we were told that this was not our train, ours will now arrive at 4pm. I was fuming but got distracted by two dogs that Sam had pointed out. They had been enjoying themselves a bit too much and the male dog had fallen off and they were stuck together!! We watched them shuffle around with the female dog trying to walk off and the male being dragged along wincing in pain. After about 10 minutes the female took a running jump onto the tracks and after a little wriggling they were freed and sat to nurse themselves.
By 4.30 we decided that a train was not coming today so we phoned to book a room in the Hotel Tranquillity in Darjeeling and took a shared jeep which was pretty uncomfortable as Sam’s head was touching the roof! We got out in Darjeeling and it was really quiet with no evidence of anything having been open today so we walked through the shuttered shops and after a wander through the backstreets near the TV tower (due to the bad LP map, definitely not my map reading skills) we found the hotel. It is nice enough- clean and hot water so we dumped our bags and went to find food. We tried a hotel across the road, it’s in LP and it’s not good. Only black tea or beer to drink and a full menu but a paper menu on the bar with the 5 dishes that were available. It took a long while to cook and the chowmein was dry and yucky. Back to our room and after laying out two blankets on our rock-hard creaky bed we clambered on and went to sleep.