Friday, 11 November 2011

Darjeeling Belly

Yesterday was my worst experience in India and hopefully not to be repeated. I now know what it must feel like to be an open sewer - quite literally. If Delhi belly is worse than Darjeeling belly then I will just have to eat my hat the rest of this trip! Things are looking up though, the craving for homemade food - my mother's of course - is a good sign.

Rounding off Darjeeling included a visit to the much venerated Bhutia Busty monastery with its panoramic view of the Himalayas. It has stunning murals and holds a collection of old Buddhist texts including the original volume of the Tibetan Book of the Dead. We also went to the Darjeeling Children's Trust boy's orphanage which is in an equally stunning location but suffering from landslip. Frankly it is dangerous. Funds are urgently needed for a rebuild and to incorporate the cramped girl's orphanage in a segregated part.

A visit to Darjeeling isn't complete without a trip on the oldest steam locomotive in the world (built between 1879 to 81). Called the Toy Train, the elevation level is up to 2,200 metres (7,218 ft) and I am sure my nephew, Joseph, would have loved it in particular. Remember, though, this is India - it was therefore the first time we have ever gone to a train station and NOT been able to buy a ticket!

We are ready to leave Darjeeling - there is another power cuts and this time there is no water either. Both the sun and mountain range have disappeared entirely under a thick cloak of cold fog. Tomorrow we will have our first 12 hour train adventure to probably the most spiritual, oldest (and dirtiest) city in India, Varanasi....

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