Around the World... One Journey at a Time. Around the World... One Journey at a Time.

Bhutan and India: Days 14 & 15

by Kathy 14. March 2011 13:22

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<< Day 13: Kalimpong to Darjeeling

Darjeeling to Bagdogra, and Home!

The morning sun chased away the shadows on the face of Darjeeling:

One of the first things I did was to see if those magnificent snowy peaks were still suspended in the sky—yes, they were!

We were treated to that incredible view during our breakfast at the hotel. Our food server was male. As with about half of the male servers I had encountered so far in India, he gave preferential treatment to Ben’s requests while almost completely ignoring mine. By now in the trip, I was finding means to work around this disparity, generally consisting of having Ben make my requests for me. (Why engage in exercises of futility by repeating the requests myself or—heaven forbid--cause an ugly scene?) This morning, however, I arrived at the breakfast table about 15 minutes before Ben, and I asked the server for some coffee. Fifteen minutes later, no coffee. Then Ben sat down and asked for some coffee. In less than a minute, the server had placed a steaming hot cup of coffee in front of Ben. For me, still nothing. I just reached over and snagged Ben’s coffee, with a smile of course.

From our vantage point on the hill, we had a clear view of the clock tower, which had some type of bamboo and rope scaffolding over the clock face:

Below us, a man was washing his clothes on a rooftop, swishing the garments vigorously in a bucket of water, then wringing each item out and smoothing it flat to dry in the sun:

Some children were playing on a nearby school balcony, and then lined up to go inside:

Our time in this beautiful city was brief but unforgetable.  We would be leaving this morning, riding down the mountains to the city of Bagdogra, which had an airport for our flight home tomorrow. Once again, the ride would be much too short—only 40 miles. But those 40 miles were excellent!

Before throwing our legs over the bikes, we took one last look at Kangchenjunga, the world’s third highest peak:

Riding out of Darjeeling, we scooted between cars and around trucks and were soon winding along the mountain range. Our first stop was at an informal snack area on the side of the road, in the middle of a switchback:

The woman who was making tea asked us if we wanted the “local” style or the “tourist”:

As usual, we all chose the “local”—sweet milky tea that made me close my eyes and say “mmmmm” with the first sip. I am not even a tea drinker at home, let alone a sugary tea drinker. Perhaps the sense of place changes one’s taste buds. There had definitely been something special about the tea we had enjoyed at almost every rest stop since the start of this trip—deeeeelicious.

It took a second or two to realize that the snack area was right in the midst of an old cemetery, with many raised cement grave-tops:

Ann met a group of women carrying tea baskets:

These dusty pink flowers were growing in patches—the circular openings looked like mouths waiting to be fed:

The snack area gave us our final view of the distant Himalayas:

Here we are on our bikes—Paul, Marian and Glynn, Ann and Dave, Ben, Fred, and me:

Just me:

Continuing onward, our road skirted the edge of the border between India and Nepal. We stopped at the Nepalese border, and I snapped this photo before seeing the “photography strictly prohibited” sign:

One of the men seemed quite taken with Ann—she is very tall and striking looking, with her thick reddish hair. He invited her to cross behind the security barrier and take some photos of the gateway to Nepal. We tagged along like shadows:

Welcome to Nepal:

On the India side, we had noticed that many of the vehicles in this area have license plates that start with “GL”:

The “GL” stands for Gorkhaland. Even though India has refused to allow this northeastern area to be an independent state (named Gorkhaland), the people have taken initiative and shown their independence by implementing many acts of self-governance, including the issuance of Gorkhaland license plates.

This batch of drying laundry was laid out on the grassy hill near the border gate:

Our next stop was the town of Marik, where a sign let us know that we were entering the “Land of Floral Beauty, Mandarin Orange, Aesthetic Ambience, Breath-taking sight of Water Body, and Cordial Hospitality”:

We never saw the “Water Body”, but the town itself was pretty, with clean streets and well-maintained buildings.

Jagjeet’s restaurant provided a nice lunch:

Afterwards, we sat on the steps across the street and watched these men playing a shell game next to us:

Ben and I took photos of each other:

The road from Darjeeling to Marik had woven down the mountain, with many tight switchbacks. We hadn’t seen any large buses. Instead, the public transportation seemed to consist of white 4x4 vehicles, which were often crammed full of people, with “overflow” riders clinging to the top or hanging onto the back. While we were in Marik, this vehicle stopped to allow more people to squeeze inside, with one man left to hold onto the ladder.

Back on the road, we stopped again across from this small hotel:

There were large “boom” noises in the distance. I climbed an elevated area with a stone platform at the top, and discovered Indian army units doing military exercises in a river bed on the other side. I didn’t dare whip out my camera for photos, but here is one that Ben took of me standing near the bottom of the stairs:

A woman walked by balancing a full basket on her head:

Our guest house in Bagdogra was very modern compared to the surrounding buildings. Here is Ben in our room:

We even had a ceiling fan—a total luxury!

We also had this sweet little guest on our ceiling:

From the second story of the hotel, we could see a view of the street:

More photos taken at street level:

Even though this one is blurry, I love the colors of the women’s saris:

Dinner was a quiet affair at the hotel restaurant. There comes a point in every journey where the focus switches to “going home”, and we had reached that point. I felt like my sensory receptors were full. Our plane didn’t leave until tomorrow morning, but I was ready to board the plane tonight.

The next morning, we said “goodbye” to Gyan and Sono—two men whose warmth and mechanical expertise added greatly to the joy of this trip.

First, there was Gyan, always ready with a smile, and who could probably build an entire motorcycle from scratch, blindfolded:

Then came Sono, who was not only was an ace mechanic, but he had some kind of energy force that was in tune with my bike—if I had problems kicking my bike to life, Sono would just come and stand quietly by the bike’s front tire, and the engine would roar to life on the next kick. Thank you, Sono, for your awesome magic!

Our guide, Rob, would be leaving with the bikes before our plane departed. From left to right: Rob, his driver, Gyan and Sono:

Farewell, boys!

The back of our taxi expressed a sentiment that my heart echoed:

In the U.S., I would probably be a bit concerned if my taxi appeared to be on a head-on collision course with a bus, but in India . . . no worries!

This woman was beautiful, with her erect posture, strength and grace:

The airport was surrounded by tea fields:

The primary purpose of this journey had been to see and experience Bhutan, and our ride through that country had indeed been incredible.  Even better than I had imagined. As an added bonus, we had enjoyed a small slice of India.  And I had been completely unprepared for how India—with all its enchantment, contradictions, and intensity—would worm its way under my skin . . . deep into the secret place where dreams start.  Even two years later, India is still calling to me, in a voice that gets louder with time. I know that I will answer. And I know that the experience will be worth the wait.

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<< Day 13: Kalimpong to Darjeeling

Comments (2) -

10/28/2011 6:18:04 PM #

Helen Fogleman

Thank you for sharing your pictures ...I can only imagine what feelings you had as you traveled to these places !!

Helen Fogleman United States | Reply

10/30/2011 9:28:32 PM #


Helen, I'm so glad that you enjoyed our pictures. India and Bhutan definitely stirred up deep emotions.  I'm still dreaming of returning to India.  
Thank you for your comment!

Kathy United States | Reply

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Map of Our Journeys

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Our travel map

Places We’ve Been, w/Quick Links

   Bumthang Valley
   Gom Kora
   Paro Valley
   Punakha Dzong
   Sangdrup Jongkhar
   Wangdi Phrodrang

   Janko Marca
   La Paz
   Laguna Colorada
   Laguna Verde
   Salar de Coipasa
   Salar de Uyuni
   San Pablo
   Santa Rosa
   Sud Lipez
   World’s Most Dangerous Road

   Banff National Park
   Battle Hill Nat'l Hist. Site
   Boya Lake Prov. Park, BC
   Burns Lake Bike Park
   Canyon Sainte-Anne
   Dawson Creek
   Eastern Townships
   Fort Nelson
   Jasper National Park
   Kluane Lake, YK
   'Ksan Historical Village
   Lake Louise
   Liard Hot Springs
   Niagara Falls
   Quebec City
   Thousand Islands
   Vancouver Island
   Watson Lake

   Forbidden City
   Great Wall at Mutianyu
   Hong Kong
   Summer Palace
   Terracotta Warriors
   Tiananmen Square
   Yungang Caves

Costa Rica
   Arenal Volcano
   Finca Corsicana
   Hanging Bridges
   Manuel Antonio
   Poas Volcano
   Proyecto Asis
   Sky Trek Zip Lining
   Venado Caves


   Amazon Rainforest
   Chaquiñan Bicycle Trail
   La Mitad del Mundo
   Napo Wildlife Center
   Papallacta Hot Springs
   Proyecto DCR
   Yasuní National Park


   Baja California
   Frida Kahlo Museum
   Hierve el Agua
   Marietas Islands
   Mexico City
   Monte Alban
   Oaxaca City
   Puerto Angel
   Puerto Escondido
   Puerto Vallarta
   San Agustin
   San Martin Tilcajete
   Santa Fe de la Laguna
   Santa María el Tule
   Studio of Jacobo Angeles
   Teotitlán del Valle

   Dead Vlei
   Elondo Village
   Etosha Nat'l Park
   Hippo Pools Camp
   Hoba Meteorite
   Khowarib Camp
   Moose McGregor's Bakery
   Mowani Camp
   Ngepi Camp
   Nkasa Lupala
   n'Kwzi Camp
   River Dance Lodge
   Seisriem Camp
   Treesleeper Camp

   Cañón del Pato
   Cerro de Pasco
   La Oroya
   Machu Picchu
   Nuevo Jaén
   Tingo Maria
   Yungay Memorial


South Africa

   Rock of Gibraltar
   Santillana del Mar

United States National Parks
   Arches National Park, UT
   Badlands National Park, SD
   Bandelier National Monument, NM
   Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
   Cahokia Mounds (UNESCO site), IL
   Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM
   Canyon de Chelly Nat'l Monument, AZ
   Cape Hatteras National Shoreline, NC
   Capitol Reef National Park, UT
   Civil Rights Memorial, AL
   Death Valley National Park, CA
   Denali National Park, AK
   Devil’s Tower National Monument, WY
   El Morro National Monument, NM
   Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C.
   Glacier National Park, MT
   Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
   Grand Tetons National Park, WY
   Great Basin National Park, NV
   Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, HI
   Joshua Tree National Park, CA
   Kaloko-Honokohau Nat'l Hist. Park, HI
   Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks, NM
   King's Canyon National Park, CA
   Martin Luther King Jr. Nat'l Hist. Site, GA
   Mesa Verde National Park, CO
   Montezuma's Castle Nat'l Monument, AZ
   Monticello, VA
   Mount Rushmore National Memorial, SD
   Mt. Rainier National Park, WA
   Olympic National Park, WA
   Petrified Wood National Park, AZ
   Pinnacles National Monument, CA
   Pu'uhonua o Honaunau Nat'l Hist Pk, HI
   Pu'ukohola Heiau Nat'l Historic Site, HI
   San Antonio Missions Nat'l Hist. Park, TX
   Tuzigoot National Monument, AZ
   Walnut Canyon National Monument, AZ
   Washington Monument
   White Sands National Monument, NM
   Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, AK
   Wright Brothers National Memorial in NC
   Yellowstone National Park, WY
   Yosemite National Park, CA

United States, Cities and Places
   The Alamo, TX
   Alaska Wildlife Conservation Cntr.
   Alpine Loop in CO
   Anchorage, AK
   Antares Junction, AZ
   Arctic Circle, AK
   Barrel Oak Winery in VA
   Biloxi, MS
   Bottle Tree Farm in CA
   Calico Ghost Town, CA
   Canfield Mountain Trail System, ID
   Cape St. Vincent, NY
   Carson City, NV
   Carter Caves State Park in KY
   Chappie-Shasta OHV Area, CA
   Child's Glacier, AK
   Circle B Chuckwagon Show in SD
   City Museum in MO
   Cody, WY
   Corn Palace in SD
   Crazy Horse Memorial in SD
   Custer State Park, SD
   Dalton Highway, AK
   Dinosaur Tracks in AZ
   Discovery Place in Charlotte, NC
   Dry Falls (Sun Lakes-Dry Falls), WA
   Fairbanks, AK
   Front Royal, VA
   Gallup, NM
   Goffs, CA
   Grand Canyon Caves, AZ
   Grand Canyon Skywalk, AZ
   Grave Digger Monster Truck in NC
   Great Salt Lake, UT
   Hackberry General Store in AZ
   Hannibal, MO
   Hatteras Island, NC
   Hawaii (Big Island)
   Hickison Petroglyphs, NV
   Holbrook, AZ
   Hole in the Rock, UT
   Homer, AK
   Honey Island Swamp Tour in LA
   Hoover Dam, NV
   Hyder, AK
   Jim Gray’s Petrified Wood Co. in AZ
   John’s Peak OHV Area, OR
   Kailua-Kona, HI
   Keepers of the Wild Nature Park in AZ
   Kennecott, AK
   Kennecott Copper Mine in UT
   Kingman, AZ
   Lake Havasu, AZ
   Lake Tahoe, NV
   Las Vegas, NV (winter 2010)
   Little Brown Church in IA
   London Bridge in AZ
   Loneliest Road in America, Hwy. 50, NV
   Los Angeles, CA
   Lost Colony Show on Roanoke Isl., NC
   Lowe’s Speedway in NC
   Mardi Gras World in LA
   Mark Twain Museum in MO
   Meteor Crater, AZ
   Million Dollar Highway, CO
   Minnesota Zoo
   Mitchell, SD
   Moab, UT
   Moab, UT (dirt biking)
   Montgomery, AL
   Montpelier, ID
   Navajo Nation, AZ
   Needles, CA
   Nevada Beach, NV
   Newberry Springs, CA
   New River Gorge, WV
   New Orleans, LA
   Niagara Falls 
   North Pole, AK
   Oatman, AZ
   Old Faithful Geyser in WY
   Omak Stampede, WA
   Painted Desert, AZ
   Park City, UT (summer)
   Plymouth, NC
   Portage Valley, AK
   Portland, OR
   Prospect OHV Trail System, OR
   Resaca, GA
   Riverside State Park, WA
   Rock City in TN
   Rosa Parks Library and Museum in AL
   Roswell, NM
   Russian River, AK
   Salt Lake City, UT
   San Antonio, TX
   San Diego, CA
   San Juan Islands, WA
   San Francisco, CA
   Santa Catalina Island, CA
   Seattle, WA
   Sedona, AZ
   Shoe Tree in CA
   Shoe Tree in NV
   Silverton, CO
   Sonora, TX
   St. Louis, MO
   St. Paul, MN
   Talkeetna, AK
   Telluride, CO
   Route 66
   Twin Knobs Recreation Area in KY
   Virginia Beach, VA
   Washington D.C.
   Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park in IL
   Williamsburg, VA
   Winom Frazier OHV Area, OR
   Winslow, AZ
   Zion National Park, UT

Planning Our Adventures

For us, each journey begins with the initial heart pangs to venture to a certain part of the world. Then the ideas start coming together . . . ahh, the possibilities . . . and the dream evolves gradually into an actual plan. But, oh, the joy of the dream!  Click here to learn more about how we plan and prepare for our journeys.

Where Are We Now?

Click here to discover where we are now, as well as our uncoming travel plans.

Words for the Heart

“. . . and then the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

Anais Nin