Anyway made it to India after a long 13hrs plus 3 hours in Manchester Airport, collected bags and passed through pasport control to what I can only discribe as utter madness. Got a taxi to our digs through the rush hour streets of Kolkata, no lanes everyone is beeping there's constant chaos and it seemed as if we could die at any moment!
Finally, after just over an hour we made it to Sudder Street, The Tourist Inn, one of the better budget Hotels I think. The room was basic and cleanish with AC a fan and a proper toilet with a shower that was warmish!
Having recorved from the journey we ventured out to the supermarket to get some supplies (water and out of date bickys) felt a bit dodgy at first because Kolkata is madness! people everywhere, beggers,touts,homeless people,dogs, cows and rubbish. Oh and it constantly smells of something undiscribable - but something like shittypissdeath. Went for tea (curry and rice - cheap as chips, in fact probably cheaper). On the way back to the hotel we met two boys who we adopted as our tour guides for the following day.
Next day we met the boys alex and anikahn who took us to the Victoria memorial, which is a massive building built to comemorate queen Victoria, very impressive, seems strange in contrast with the rest of the city, really grand and pieceful. Took the boys for lunch (spicy double mutton roles- Mmmmhh!!) and later walked for miles to Mother Teresas' which was quite dissapointing, was expecting an old church type building in fact it looked just like every other building in a dirty part of town. later that night we went out fo tea to the Bihari on Nick Charles' recommendation, was ok ish the waiter had just two teeth and could only say No! Went for a few drinks that night then bed.
The following day we slept in till gone 12 (well needed sleep) after pancakes we decided to go the park to chill out in the sun, read a book and watched locals playing
cricket and flying kites. Lots of lights being put up every where which we found out was for the Dewavli festival (kind of like our fireworks night but they do not understand safety we decided to leave before the weekend and booked our train tickets to Darjeerling. Later went for tea with Tim who we met through Nick, he got us our room for a good price.
On our last day in Kolkala we went out early to a part of the city called BBD Bagh, where we visited the black hole of Kolkata memorial, in the afternoon we went to the botanical gardens just outside of tow- there's a 250 year old tree that is massive it's called The Great Banyan Tree and is like hundereds of trunks connecting into the second largest canopy in the world. later that evening we experienced our first piece of street meat (chow mein) was suprisingly good. After food we set off on our journey to Darjeerling, first was the taxi in rush hour then a 12 hour train journey which was thoughroughly enjoyed by us both - espeically the part where we had to move people from our seats and spend all night awake in what can only be described as an open coffin, this was followed by a 2 1/2 hours jeep ride up the mountains. We Were tired and pongy but the veiws were spectacular and made the journey well worth it.
After hiking up very steap hills with our heavy bags we cheaked into our very cheap hotel, room is damp and smelly, the toilet is a hole in the ground, the shower is shared and either icey cold or scalding hot, but our view is amazing and for Rs 250 (£3) per night who could complain.
Spent first two day wondering around taking in the scenery and eating lots. Also spent time on internet trying to book further train tickets with no luck, we have now learnt that we need to plan ahead better and book trains weeks in advanced, so we have decided to stay here over a week as there is plenty to do, including a 3 day hike in the mountains which Tracey is a little worried about as she has trouble getting up the hill to our room, but it is very steep and we are twice the height of Snowdon already whichmakes it harder to breathe. We finally managed to sort of book a train (waitlist 3-which means we have paid and have seats if there are cancelations) out of here to Varanassi on 19/11/10.
Tommorrow we're going to the zoo and a mountain museum, the following day we plan to get up at 3:30am to go to Tiger Hill to watch the sunrise over the Hymalayas and then we have booked a joy-ride on the Darjeeling Mountain railway - should be good, we will take lots of pics and update again soon. xx