Saturday, 17 April 2010


Monday 12 April: The World Heritage site listed Himalayan Mountain Railway's narrow-gauge steam locomotive service starts at Kuresong so I board The Queen of the Hills (50th mode of transport) for the three-hour jaunt to Darjeeling. There is a problem with engine 804's boiler so I arrive at Darjeeling five-hours late - cold, tired, hungry, speckled with soot but happy - I've been on one of the world's best steam train journeys.
Wednesday 14: Hook up with Korean girl Yuna and German Sebastian and have a fun afternoon with the joyful tea ladies of Happy Valley tea estate who earn just 62 Rupees for an eight-hour shift (plus a sizable tip from us away from the gaze of their two male overseers). The delightfully named 'super fine tipi golden flower orange pekoe' tea tastes as good as it sounds.
Friday 16: I visit the Himalayan Mountain Zoo primarily to see the results of the Red Panda breeding programme. The adjacent Himalayan Mountain Institute tells the tragic story of Scotsman Andy Irvine and George Mallory's Everest ascent from the Tibet side in 1924. Mallory's frozen body was discovered in 1999 near the summit but
Irvine's young, 22 year old body, has not yet been found - did he conquer the summit? I like to think so, yes he did. Tenzing and Hillary famously 'knocked the bastard off' from the Nepal side in 1953.
Photos of Darjeeling.

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