India Revisited - Darjeeling - Malda PDF Print E-mail
Written by Peter Smith   
Monday, 20 April 2009 10:38
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Day 50: Friday 10th November - Darjeeling to Malda

It was, once again, another very early start because of the length and nature of the journey. We left at 6.00am but unfortunately did not rise in time for breakfast. The journey back down to the plain 8,000 feet below was breathtaking. The road follows the narrow gauge railway line criss-crossing every few hundred yards. The first part from Darjeeling up to Ghoom was quite busy for the time of the day with four wheel drive Tatras providing transportation for everything from people, animals, products and materials. The more modern vehicle looks like a cheap version of the Land Rover Discovery. From Ghoom the road cleared and we made steady progress down. The 80 or so kilometres took three and half hours and at times the bus was very close to the edge of the road and drops of two to three thousand feet straight down into the tea plantations. Accidents must be common and the local government's way of dealing with it is novel. Every few hundred yards, usually at a bend or a precarious point a series of road signs were placed to invoke the consequences of dangerous driving.


These are the few I remember:

'If you're married divorce speed',

'Enjoy these beautiful hills at low speed'

'For survival make late arrival' and my favourite

'Give blood to the bloodbank not the hillside'

I have to say although it was a long way to drive to spend one day in Darjeeling the scenery coming back down made it all worthwhile. This is a spectacular part of the world and makes us realize and even more angry, about not going to Everest and Laos. I can't wait to talk to Mas and Mac about their experiences since leaving the bus.

Once back down onto the hot plain again we set off for our penultimate hotel in India at the nondescript Malda. The rest of the journey was uneventful, just a long weary slog along more appalling roads.

We pulled into the grounds of the hotel well before I expected: no asking the way at every junction. The hotel Park was modern (three years old) and looked impressive and the food in the bar restaurant was good and even more important, for Jaenpol, the beer was ice cold and only 80 rupees. However, the good points were far outweighed by the total incompetence and attitude of the management who just insisted on refusing to take any money and placed everything on your room tag. Later when everyone went to bed, not early after midnight, the staff came banging on room doors insisting on sorting out each bill. This did not go down well with many people who refused to open their doors shouting in the best cockney 'fuck off I'm in bed' when of course she was watching Arsenal.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 25 May 2010 10:51