3rd October 2009. Happy Valley - a visit rudely (at first interrupted by a landslide) but later taken up by Orjun, our taxi driver. Happy Valley is a tea plantation and factory whch exports tea exclusively to Harrods if you please. But I'm getting ahead of myself here....
Tiger Hill was a 'Virar' local at peak time and then some. It was utter madness and we paid some 30-50 bucks for some viewing platform thing which was utterly pointless. After a while, I could not bring myself to care if I saw the sunrise or not. The sea of humanity had taken care of that for me. I didn't feel the need to fight with people and their cameras merely to get a glimpse of this...This was taken at 5.25 am in the morning at Tiger Hill. Clouds completely obscured the view and we didnt see no sunrise!
However I did see this and this more than made up for the early morning madness we had indulged in.
We found Orjun by coincidence. We had planned a visit to Happy Valley, Darjeeling Zoo and the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute. We started at the Zoo and it was very cool to see bears, snow leopards and the like at the Zoo.
But the people behaved atrociously. They whistled, made cootchie coo kind of noises at the animals like they were dogs! I could not understand this kind of behaviour and inflicting this on the poor animals. The cheetah I thought reacted admirably to this!
In the HMI, we checked out the Everest Museum. George Leigh Mallory and his expeditions stood out for us. 'Paths of Glory' by Jeffrey Archer eloquently brings out the story of Mallory's expedition to the Everest to life. It felt momentous to see photos of Gen.Bruce, the equipment they carried on their expeditions amongst other things.
Then off to Happy Valley. We get to hear of the whole process of manufacturing tea and paid 200 bucks(!) for 100 grams of tea. Quite a foolish thing to do I might add but we went with the moment of being at the tea plantation.
Got back and ate pork momos and chicken thukpa at Penang. Small restaurant near the Rink Mall and they were quite delicious. Did some tea shopping at Nathmulls and T did sword shopping at the Mall. Yes yes he bought a 'katana' which he intends to lug back to Mumbai!
Met a talkative shop owner - Nepal Curios Shop on Mall Road who sold T the sword and me some fabulous silver jewellery. Walked back to hotel where I desperately read and finished Ian Rankin's 'Exit Music' - something I had started to read on the 2nd. Packed and got ready for a 6.30 am start to Gangtok.