Saturday, April 6, 2013


So last Friday after fishing, we went back to Kalimpong and met up with Anju to head to her hometown of Padong.  We rode in a shared jeep and it should have taken about 45 minutes but due to the driver driving like a crazy person we reached in about 30 minutes.  Anju had stated before that we would need to walk for about 30 minutes once we got to the town.  She did not mention, however, that we would be walking directly uphill the entire time.  Turns out that her family lives at the very top of this mountain and it backs up to this cliff that you can see mountains in the state of Sikkim, as well as other mountains in West Bengal.

It was totally unreal that growing up she would have to go up and down the mountain everyday to go to school or anywhere else for that matter.  She also mentioned that in places where they had stairs, that they had been added within the last few years.  I cannot even imagine having to do that for daily life!  Talk about life being difficult!

Once we reached the top, we were greeted by her mother and uncle.  We immediately had lunch at her home, and were shown remarkable hospitality throughout our time there.  Her family is precious and so very kind.  We could only stay a few hours because it was very last minute and we needed to go to Darjeeling Friday night.  After lunch we climbed some more to the cliff that overlooks the valley behind her house.  We sat there for a while and chatted and learned some more about her life and just about growing up in India.  It was really a special time and I am super thankful for the opportunity to go to her home.

From there we went back down to the jeep and ended up having the same driver take us back to Kalimpong.  When we arrived back, we were looking for a taxi to take us to Darjeeling.  Apparently most taxis leave at 3pm at the latest, and it was about 6pm.  Some people wanted a ridiculous amount to take us there, and so we were trying to find a ride.  We ended up having to call Anju and she got some of her family in Kalimpong to get a taxi to agree to take us there.  Turns out it was the party taxi that we were riding in!  From the very beginning we were listening to all American pop hits and the driver was dancing in the front seat to all the songs.  It was so much fun!  At one point the hills were so steep that we were driving on that the taxi couldn't make it up.  The driver stopped and asked for all of us to get out and walk up the hill.  Of course it was pitch dark at this point and we thought he was kidding.  He most definitely was not, and so we got out and walked up this one hill.  It was really hilarious and indescribable because he was driving alongside us as if he was a trainer and yelling at us to move faster and clapping at us to do better!  When we got to the top of the hill we realized that there was another hill, so we in turn had to walk up the second hill as well.  It was the craziest thing ever...but one of those times that was just so much fun and really funny.

We made it to Darjeeling around 10pm and we went to our hotel to crash for the night.  I will update again about how the hotel was (read honeymoon suite), as well as the experience of being in Darjeeling.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A little trip to Kalimpong

So last weekend I went on a little vacation, which ended up being 5 days.  Because of the Holi holiday we were able to take Wednesday and Thursday off and we had Good Friday off work.  Kristy, Jennifer, and I decided that we wanted to go early to a smaller town near Darjeeling.  Our first day was wonderful, we had a very short one hour flight to Bagdogra and then got a prepaid taxi take us to Kalimpong which is a few hours from Darjeeling. We stayed there until Friday. The ride was beautiful and the weather was in the 70s which was fantastic!  The taxi driver was awesome as well because he stopped at random points along the way that he knew we would want shots of. We ate at this hole in the wall restaurant and I mean that so very literally!  We had amazing dal and roti though. The lodge we stayed at was nice and totally comfortable, and the owners are from Tibet. We had dinner at a great place in town about a 10 minute walk from the lodge. We also met a local who helped us set up some things to do for the rest of our time.

Thursday was a really nice day.  We got up around 8am, got ready, and went to have breakfast on the terrace (which was actually like a terrace). We had a nice conversation with this group from the States that is doing work with Tibetan school children. Oh the people you meet while traveling!

After breakfast we went on a 2 hour walk (read hike but on a road) up to the highest point in Kalimpong, which is also where the paragliding takes place. It was a really challenging but I was loving breaking a sweat for exercising purposes!  We saw a lot of the town that was very neat and I'm a huge fan of the place in general.

When we got to the top I determined that the paragliding was safe (due to the instructor not being Indian and being legitimately licensed in Sweden).  It was really the coolest experience. I was most nervous because I don't like stomach drops but I didn't have a single one!  It was just like floating through the was beautiful and quiet and just lovely overall.  It is definitely one of my favorite parts of the trip!

From there Kristy and I had an outdoor picnic lunch of momo's and coke while Jennifer was paragliding.  After that we were going to walk down to our hotel but we ended up getting a lift from our instructor back to the center of town, on the top of his SUV.  From there we went to this orchid nursery and walked around for a bit. After all of this adventure we ended our night by going to dinner at this place called King Thai, fun fact that it doesn't serve Thai food!!  We had an early dinner and then walked back to the lodge. 

Friday morning we got up early again because we were going fishing down at the river.  Our friend that we met said it would be a good time and we didn't have anything planned for the early part of the day Friday.  We had our taxi driver, an instructor and his daughter who went with us.  I don't really care anything about fishing but just thought it would be a good experience to be able to take pictures and enjoy the surroundings some more!  It was a good time, even though I'm pretty sure there are no fish in this particular river because all of the other people we saw fishing weren't catching anything either.  I had a great time even still.  

We left fishing a bit early because we found out that another coworker is from a town about 30 minutes away from Kalimpong and she was coming up early to take some vacation time at home with her family.  She invited us to her home to have lunch so we definitely didn't want to pass up that opportunity!  I will write about our time in Padong at a later time because it was a wonderful time!

I'm so glad we ended up going early and were able to go to Kalimpong.  The weather was amazing and the air is so clean!  Everyone there spoke Nepalese and are much more Asian looking than Indian looking.