Break From the Law travel blog

Early today, we saw this guy in one of the West Bengal...

Close up shot of West Bengali man with cart.

Overland truck got stuck in the sand when we tried to take...

Me helping to dig out Overland truck out of sand.

When the truck got stuck, a bunch of local kids showed up...

As we drove further north, vegatation became less dry & more lush...

Landscape in Gorkhaland was much more lush & green than we had...

Typical house seen along road in Gorkhaland.

Landscape in Gorkhaland.

Vikki & I riding on roof of overland truck in Gorkhaland.

The hills of Gorkhaland. We will finally reach Darjeeling tomorrow, if all...

It is around 10 p.m. I'm writing this entry at our campsite in the woods. We have reached the region of West Bengal known as Gorkhaland and are at a higher altitude now, so the temperature presently is quite comfortable.

Today we continued our drive north toward Darjeeling and the foothills of the Himalayas on the small two lane road that is the main north-south highway traversing West Bengal. En route to our lunch stop, the overland truck became stuck in a patch of sand as we attempted to drive a bit off of the highway, but otherwise we spent most of today's drive passively taking in the cultural and natural scenery we encountered. Much of the early part of today's drive can be described be nondescript as we continued trudging north through a seemingly unending array of villages and small cities. As the day progressed and we edged further north, however, we began to see the first signs of the Indian subcontinent melting into Asia proper. The racial composition of the populace slowly started to become more mixed, with typical Indian faces becoming increasingly interspersed with Asian ones. We saw women with Asian features wearing Indian sari and with a dotted forehead, reflecting the continued dominance of the Indian cultural sphere here. Late in the afternoon, the monotonous landscape that had previously characterized our drive across West Bengal became more alpine in character, and finally the stifling Bengali humidity slowly gave way to more comfortable temperatures.

We are camping this evening in a forest several hundred meters off of the main north-south highway. Shortly before dinner tonight, several men from a local village stopped by our campsite to see what was going on and say hello generally. Asian in appearance, during our conversation they told us they spoke Nepali as their first language - as opposed to Bengali - and that we were now in Gorkhaland. Gorkhaland is the portion of West Bengal populated predominantly by Gorkhas. The Gorkhas have gained fame the world over in the British military's famed Gorkha units. While the men are generally small and wiry in appearance, Gorkhas are known to be tenacious and tough as nails. As I understand it, not only the British prize the Gorkhas for their fighting prowess, but also the Indian armed services, which contain a number of elite Gorkha units.

Tomorrow we will complete our drive to Darjeeling, so it will be interesting to see how the physical and cultural landscape changes further. In any event, i'm definitely ready to get this drive done and over with.

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