Inauspicious start with a 1 1/2 hour delay in Montreal plus another 2 hour delay in Frankfurt because the PA system was kaput! Arrived at hotel in Delhi after 25 1/2 hours on the go - the one plus was no traffic from airport to hotel at 4:30 AM! On and off sleep to get ready for Fri AM flight to Bagdogra in the State of Sikkim in northeast India along the Bhutan and Nepal borders.
The trip was a 4 hour 95km climb into the foothills of the Himalayas.The speed, the hair raising driving with sharp switchbacks together with steep drop offs on either side of the road was our welcome back to India! Once arrived, Darjeeling is a city built on slopes surrounded by tea plantations. It was a favorite haunt of the British to escape the fierce summer heat of the big cities back in the time. Sikkim State is India's 'distinct society'.
Population is strongly Nepalese and Tibetan with very different features. Buddhism predominates and there are many monasteries both old and new.
Highlight was a dawn trip up Tiger Hill to view the sunrise. The deal is to see the sun from the East 'rise' into the Himalayas to the West. It was phenomenal to see firstly Mt Kanchendzonga the 3rd highest peak in the world (about 70 kms away )surrounded by many other snow capped BIG mountains emerge from the dark. It was a very clear day and so a few minutes later the main course Mt Everest became visible! Awe-inspiring even at a distance of 140 kms. Glenn had climbed in the rockies with Laurie Skreslet the first Cdn up Mt Everest and met Sir Edmund Hillary - it was an indelible moment. Later at the hotel there was a memorial room for Tensing Norgay the sherpa who summitted with Laurie S and Sir Edmund.
Other highlights included the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (fascinating chronology of mountaineering in the Himalayas) and a visit to a Tibetan Refugee Self help work centre. Amazingly industrious people living in a very harsh environment but getting by by selling Tibetan handicrafts to the European market.
Even for a Canadian, this part was cold.The dampness and lack of central heating make for a pretty damp and raw stay - you Floridians would love it.
Tough day in terms of hours but gave us a chance to get to meet fellow ICICI Bank Directors and spouses from the UK and Canada. Good fun had by all. Needed a couple of drinks to steel ourselves for the drive down the icy mountain roads the next day.
"One doesn’t stop seeing. One doesn’t stop framing. It doesn’t turn off and turn on. It’s on all the time."
~ Annie Leibovitz