|Took a share jeep just over an hour through the hills to the larger town of Kurseong (population of 40 thousand). Kurseong is famous for tea plantations and is also a popular destination for honeymooning and vacationing Indians.
We stayed at a charming (and relatively cheap) heritage hotel. Filled with reminders of the colonial era, it was an interesting experience. The staff were very helpful and arranged for us to take a tour of the nearby Maikabari tea estates - a pioneer in organic farming (they started back in the 70's). A very forward-thinking owner has a health clinic, daycare and community education center for his workers. We learned about tea picking, processing and were surprised to learn that green, white, orange pekoe and black teas all come from the same plant, but are simply the result of different levels of processing and fermentation.
We had come to Kurseong to take the world heritage "toy train" to Darjeeling. The engine was so cute and tiny, Christy nicknamed it the "little engine that could". Unfortunately, the day we took the train towards Darjeeling, our train broke down about 30 minutes into our 3 hour journey. It was promptly renamed the "little engine that couldn't quite". We returned to Kurseong for another night and took a share jeep to Darjeeling the next morning.