The skies had cleared overnight and when we woke up there was Mt Kanchenjunga . The sky was a pristine blue colour with no clouds and Mt Kanchenjunga and neighbouring mountains held a commanding view. Our Rocky Mountains are big, but these mountains are enormous.
We both woke up today anxious. It’s our first travel day and it is still only day number 3 for us. We ate, packed, checked the room for hiding socks and headed down to our prearranged taxi. Yesterday, we were approached by a taxi driver, Sanjeet, who stopped to chat and was a very nice fellow. We asked him how much to Kalimpong did some very lame bargaining to get the price to match the price of the big operators, shook hands and hoped we had a taxi.
We had to chuckle because Sanjeet, and all his fellow taxi drivers were on the lookout for us as we exited the hotel. Sanjeet was there in a flash to make sure he did not miss a long distance fare. We loaded his little car and set off. Sanjeet is very personable and he kept up his end of the conversation and allowed us to stop for photo ops along the way.
Kanchenjunga was visible for quite a while as we progressed along our travel route and it was hard to keep our eyes off it.
The road from Darjeeling to Kalimpong is maintained by the Public Works Department. That explains the smooth surface, lack of potholes and the lack of sections of missing pavement. The road from Bagdogra to Darjeeling is maintained by the political party in power, and is therefore in horrible condition. mmmmmmm.
OMG! The Windsongs is from heaven! Quite frankly, after staying in the dank Dekeling (with a window looking into the interior of the residence quarters), the Windsongs is a piece of heaven. Our room is as big as our living room at home, immaculately clean, well-appointed and has a million dollar view. Subhadra, the owner, is extremely genteel and more than willing to answer questions and help us. Can you tell we like the place?
Its proximity to town is probably the Windsongs only shortcoming. It is a little too far from Kalimpong to walk. So we hopped in a shared taxi (Rs 10 each(25 cents)) at the end of the driveway and went for a short trip to the town centre.
We wandered around town looking for the taxi stand to arrange a ride to Phuentsholing on Sunday. As it turns out, this weekend is a holiday weekend and all the buses and shared taxis are booked. We managed to find a driver willing to take only us but he wanted more money than we had planned on spending. Mur did a better job of bargaining this time but the driver still walked away with a big smile on his face!
We needed a pause to gather ourselves and cool off after the intense session at the taxi stand. A soccer team was warming up on the pitch in the local stadium, so we sat on the stairs to watch for a few minutes. Next thing we know, some chairs were laid out at center field and we were being invited to sit down and watch the game. We chatted with one of the officials and his friend. The friend was interested in Canada as he had applied to go to Dalhousie U in Halifax. The game about to start was between two teams comprised of alumni from two schools, the President of the Alumni Soccer Association came over to greet us and thank us for watching. We felt like celebs! At this point we were committed to watching the game.
St. Roberts School, from Darjeeling, had bright yellow and blue uniforms, matching socks and they looked very professional. They passed well and had a lot of hustle. Dr. Graham School, from Kalimpong, had light blue jerseys and an assortment of shorts and socks. The looked more like a pick up soccer team.
At the beginning of the game, the players lined up, hands were shaken with dignitaries and then prayer scarves were given to each player. The players exchanged their scarves with players on the opposing team. All soccer matches should start this way to instill sportsmanship.
When we left at half time, the score was 2 to 1 for St. Roberts.
The restaurants here are not as touristy as Darjeeling, but we managed to find the “King Thai”. We had a delicious supper of shrimp fried rice and honey chicken. As we were the only patrons in the restaurant, the service was exceptional.
Another $.25 ride back to paradise and it is time to relax.