Our train tickets have us boarding at 11 p.m. on the 15th but we do not arrive in JNP train station for the 'toy train' leaving at 8:30 to Darjeeling until 7:30 a.m. on the 16th.
We paid 800 r, to stay in D & Js room until 10 p.m. when we went to the train station - 15 min. walk. It was very wise to hold the room since train stations in India are 'an experience' to be missed. Crowded, noisy, really uncomfortable seats, if you can find one, and at one time in the past they even let cows wander in and around - yuk! Luckily we were an hour early since the car we thought we were in was not ours so, although we had settled in we had to 'unsettle' and move to the correct car. Again, no issues there, I immediately went up into my sleeper bunk and locked stuff up. Being 2nd class there are no sheets, blankets, just a bunk. It got cold and lots of all night snoring, loud. The train left right on time, 10:55 p.m. arr. at New Jalpaiguri station around 8.
I had a nice chat with an Indian Army captain - 17 years - posted about every 3-4 years to a different location so he's seen a lot of India. He is presently (been there 3 months) in Silchar and headed home for 2 months in a village 3 hours out of New Jalpaiguri.
We had hoped to go on the 'toy train' to Darjeeling but bookings are made months in advance so no room in the 32 seat, 3 car train. Daphne had to do some adjusting since she'd been talking about the toy train much before even leaving Canada. B, M, & I went to reservations to book our tickets back to Calcutta but no room on the one D & J leaving on the 18th, so we ended up on one leaving 7:40 a.m. on the 19th getting into Calcutta at 8p.m.
We then arranged a shared taxi (a sumo) to Darjeeling which since we were willing to pay extra (basically covering the charge for the addl. 3 seats unoccupied) left at 10:30 a.m. instead of waiting until it was FULL (translation:PACKED/STACKED/SARDINED). It took half the ride just to get out of town (traffic) and through the huge military base on the outskirts. Then it was a switchback 1 1/2 lane road up up up with lots of traffic (see photos).
___ Wiki Info on Darjeeling
When we arrived a tout at the taxi stand offered to show us rooms nearby. Since everything in Darjeeling is either up or down, his offer of a place 'one minute' away sounded attractive. Hotel Broadway
is built like all the other buildings, 'on the vertical' plane up and down the hills. We took the two rooms (1200 & 1800rupees) which have a nice view of the valley but none of the mountains. Now Daphne's at 3 disappointments today, no toy train, no mountain view, and she left her favorite all purpose blow up pad in the taxi.
The remainder of the day we spent climbing to a 'lookout' for a panoramic view of the area. Kanchenjunga, the world's third highest mountain, I began climbing thinking the others were/would be following. Bon came next with Daphne following. My assumption was wrong since Joey and Mare did not realize we were going up and up. The end result is Bon, Daphne, and I reached a lookout of sorts but upon our return, Joey and Mare were not where we had left them. After a bit of waiting we three went back to hotel and later to meet up a get the rest of the story which revealed that Joey and Mari thought WE had returned to the hotel without them so they went back...perhaps an hour before we arrived back. Group communication is so important to avoid wasting time waiting when unnecessary.
Dinner at a place called The Boss Restaurant...mediocre, although Bon said it was the best tomato soup she's had on the entire trip and my veggie soup was pretty good too.
After all the hiking yesterday Bon & I slept late...Mare, Daphne, and Joey were up earlier and made a plan for the day. Go to the 'toy train' station and find out about services offered for travel from Darjeeling. I am suffering from a bit of altitude sickness, nausea and headache, also dehydration since I tend not to drink enough water when temps are cool, and it is definitely cooler up here!