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#1 Mar 24th, 2004, 22:21
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Nov 2002
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Cleveland, Ohio
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  • Kiki is offline
#1
Hello all indiamikers and mikettes!

I'm here in Darjeeling for 10 days now. Thought you might be interested in a little report.

First, I got my 10 year visa with incredible ease in San Francisco. I happened to be there visiting friends. I swear, I was probably in the embassy for a total of 2 minutes. I just walked in, handed over the forms, etc. No questions asked. Received a receipt. Came back at 4:30 and received my passport. I can't remember any bureaucratic event--East or West--ever being so easy.

Second, the direct flight from Toronto to Delhi was great. I managed to snag one of the center rows of seats and got some much-needed sleep. The food and service were very good. No complaints at all.

Arrived in Delhi around 6pm and, because I was taking a Jet Airways flight the next morning around 10, got a free shuttle bus ride to the domestic airport. (don't know if this shuttle is only for jet air customers?) The guy did ask for a tip, though. No problem. He dropped me off right in front of the Airport Manager's office, which is where you need to go to get a "retiring room" in the airport. I really recommend this, as it saves considerable hassle and money by not having to deal with taxis and hotels in Delhi for just one night. The room was 450rs for one bed in a double room. The rooms are pretty clean, have (rather noisy) air conditioning, and you get your own private bathroom. When they see that you are awake, they call you on the phone to see if you want some tea. Be aware though that you need to have not left the airport grounds and your flight needs to be leaving within 24 hours in order to get one of these rooms. ALSO be aware that there is no real food available on the ground floor of the airport. Not even bottled water. I wasn't prepared for this and was ready to brush my teeth with 7UP! However, there is a good restaurant upstairs which seemed to be open quite late. I went there for breakfast and it was very good.

The Jet Airways flight from Delhi to Bagdogra was an hour late, but otherwise went beautifully. These people really deserve the good reputation they have.

From Bagdogra I was fortunate enough to be met by one of the monks at the monastery where I am living in Darjeeling. A monk and the monastery driver--a Nepali guy who is just a hoot!

Now for Darjeeling: YUCK!!! I'm here to learn Tibetan, otherwise I'd never stay. It is horribly dirty. I recently read in one of the English language Indian magazines that it was rated one of the 10 worst places in India! I believe it. Very polluted. The whole place has the feeling of a slum. Ramshackle houses with corrugated iron roofs all over the place. Tons of places being built, half-built, and falling apart. No sense of space.

That said, there are some nice things to see in the area. It's true, according to some friends here, that the view on a clear day at sunrise from Tiger Hill is lovely. And there are interesting monasteries to see and some very nice hikes in the general area. I also find the population quite interesting. Very diverse. Indians, Nepalis, Bhutanese, Tibetans--just about everyone. And so many are really very beautiful.

Also, there are some quite nice places to eat. I am fond of Hasty Tasty, which is in fact Tasty, but not at all Hasty. They have a very wide range of food--western, north Indian, south Indian--and everything I've had so far has been very good. Except the veg pizza, which was a bit too spicy for my taste. If I want spice, I go for Indian food, not pizza!

As for me, I'm having a grand time teaching the little monks English. They are extremely cute and all the monks, to a man, are most kind and generous. They've been very good to me.

If anyone is interested in learning Tibetan, I highly recommend Manjushree Institute. The teachers are excellent. The course is pretty intense, but they push you just enough to challenge you. Twenty hours of Tibetan a week for 9 months. I worked out how much a student pays per hour. Care to guess??...66 cents (American)!!

Ok. So that's the Cleveland-Delhi-Darjeeling news for the moment. I hope all of you are well,and I say thanks once again for all the help everybody offered when I was researching this trip at home.

Cheers and Tashi Delek!
Kiki
#2 Mar 25th, 2004, 00:09
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Sep 2002
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Cambridge, MA, USA
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  • Tomi is offline
#2
Go Kiki!!

But haven't you forgotten something? Like how... you know who... is doing?
#3 Mar 25th, 2004, 01:05
Nothing is illegal until you get caught~
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  • jjacquemain is offline
#3
Yippee! You made it safe and sound, I'm so very glad. Thanks for the update I was beginning to wonder if you would have time to let us know how your trip there was and if you are getting along. Tomi is right...about you know who......The flat one......did his trip go as well??
There is no defense against chaos~
#4 Mar 25th, 2004, 09:24
Join Date:
Nov 2002
Location:
Cleveland, Ohio
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  • Kiki is offline
#4
Oh my! I forgot the Great Flat One!!! A thousand apologies. Poor old Stan. Well, Stan got his own seat on the plane, which pleased him no end. He doesn't take a lot of space, but he likes his comfort. I have been too shy to bring him out in public as of yet, but the day is nearing. It's very hard to explain what this little guy is all about if you don't speak the language...and sometimes even if you do!

But, rest assured, I will give updates on Stan's progress and maybe even a photo if I can figure out how to do it. At the moment, he is considering ordination. He loves the monks too and has a desire to be just like them. I am thinking of making a little set of robes for him...

more later as the situation progresses
#5 Mar 25th, 2004, 11:09
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Sep 2001
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UK
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  • steven_ber is offline
#5
Hi Kiki & Stan.

How is the weather?

I've spoke to a few people who have been to Darjeeling in the last week and they said the weather was awful.

I've almost abandoned the Darjeeling part of my itinerary after hearing this news, I am flying from Dibrugarh to Calcutta tomorrow to escape the rain but may reconsider Darjeeling.

Thanks for any info.
#6 Mar 25th, 2004, 21:37
Join Date:
Feb 2002
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india
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  • indiawise is offline
#6
oh oh.... I visited darjeeling in 1993 february. It was beautiful, i was with my girlfriend and much in love. Remember a place called Glennery's which had great cakes and cheeze and tea. Is it still there? We had lots of good food, lovely walks and the people were quite nice. Beinng planning to revisit and also sikkim.
Pity to hear of the swift decline.

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