Cross Border to Siliguri, India Then Onward to Darjeeling(West Bengal)
After breakfast at Hotel Kanchan, Robin, the very helpful manager (son of owner-it's family run) exchanged out Nepal rupees & got us a rickshaw negotiating a good price to take our packs across the border to the Indian immigration which was a considerable distance further than the LP said. Easy checking out of Nepal and easy into India (but being India it took 3 times longer filling out all the paperwork and didn't include the special permit for Sikkim). Short walk to bus park where we got a bus to Siliguri...this bus, however, got a flat tire a third of the way there with no spare, so we hopped into a 'shared micro', actually our first time in one - a 3 wheeled deal with platform seats 6 in the back & 4 way back facing side to side. This got us to the next town where we again caught a bus the rest of the way to Siliguri.
It is humid, hot and sticky. The agriculture after passing miles of 2nd growth, super green jungle forest, first was rice with goats & cows/water buffalo. Then it went to corn and sugar cane and some livestock. Then to rice and sugar cane and some other tall mystery crop plus livestock and finally tea!
This area is most definitely Nepal's breadbasket.
Unfortunately, we missed the SMT bus station where the tourist office was to get our permit so back into another 'micro'! Finally, after mistaking the Bengali tourist office for the Sikkim one (Bengali office - with AC no less - directed us the short way back to the Sikkim tourist office) where they not only issued us a permit right on the spot but gave us a great map and the nice lady outlined a whole itinerary for the time we're there explaining all the best spots to visit, etc.! Super helpful! Even directed us to the shared taxi stand for going to Darjeeling and how much it should cost!
Wiki Info Darjeeling
Wow, taxi ride to Darjeeling was one of the most switchbacky ones I've ever experienced... 3 hours to go 76 km. on a single± lane 'paved' road most of the way but rough and lots of potholes in many stretches! Hiked UPHILL to Andy's Guesthhouse (LP recommended), very nice lady and very nice place...view dissolved into clouds and rain right after we arrived. But what a change! From 89% + humidity and 90° F heat to cool mountain air and low humidity!
Cloudy, bummer! No Everest to see. After breakfast we wandered up Observatory hill site of Dorje Ling monastery, the gompa that gave the city it's name. The small cave to honor Mahakala, Buddhist diety...lots of giant Japanese cedars here are VERY impressive, beautiful setting.
Info Darjeeling Railway"
Later, still wandering we happen upon a mall where, miracle of miracles, Bon found her pants she's been looking for since both her originals are/have fallen apart. A tailor along the way shortened them, we continued on to locate exactly where we catch the shared taxi to Jorethang in Sikkim tomorrow.
Finished the day at the internet since clouds obscure all the surrounding hills etc. Very productive for uploading photos, our Andy's GH is just a few doors away from a very fast internet...luckily, since it began pouring rain again before Bon left.