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Read and rate Travel Journal Entries for West Bengal, India

Aug 13, 2008 - Charitable Mothers, Imperialist Queens and Bollywood Kings - Calcutta

It was a 30-hour train ride from Hyderabad to Calcutta, with another 4 hours added on from delays. We chose 2nd class A/C berths for the comfort and the limited privacy it affords. We went to the grocery store in the morning before we left Hyderabad and loaded up on water, drinks, and other snacks for the marathon trip. We left at around 10 am, spent the full day on the train, the full night, and didn’t arrive in Calcutta until after 6pm the following evening. Along the way, we braved two train-cooked vegetarian meals that actually weren’t...

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Jul 29, 2008 - Darjeeling

There are a lot of shops in Darjeeling with posters or photographs showing this hill-station at its best; usually there will be some women in the foreground picking tea on one of the many estates with the snow-capped Himalayas in the background sitting under a clear blue sky. Unfortunately the reality during monsoon season is very different: the cloudy grey skies hide the mountains, the threat of rain hangs over the hills and the air is constantly damp. So not the best time to be here then. There is a noticeable change in people though,...

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Trip Journal


Where's Malcolm?

Jul 27, 2008 - And onto Kurseong, India

I've heard a few stories about the journey from Kathmandu to Darjeeling, none of them good. I've taken advice and gone for the day journey and not the gruelling night bus, a decision which every Nepali whose in the know about these things tells me is a good move. The bus sets out at a bad time though, 4.30 in the morning. My journey to the border had a scheduled time of 12 hours but thanks to the strikes which currently abound in this country these are not normal times in Nepal, thus my journey lasted 18 hours. Our journey started well...

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Trip Journal


Where's Malcolm?

Jul 4, 2008 - Kolkata (Calcutta)

After some minor confusions at Varanasi train station where the train arrived at a different platform to the once shown on the signal boards I was soon on my way to Kolkatta (Calcutta) and after a thankfully uneventful overnight journey I arrived into that large city. I decided to try and save some money and try to get a ferry across the river but after some confusions as to which ferry to get I eventually gave up and just got a taxi back from the train station. The taxi driver overcharged me and then had the cheek to get another two people...

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May 14, 2008 - Darjeeling

I've spent the last three days recovering from the trek, I could hardly walk for the first two, age must be catching up with me. My plan was to get the bus to Kathmandu today but I've been thwarted by an indefinite transport strike. My research had led me to believe that long distance buses were still being allowed to run but as I went to check out of the hotel this morning I was told that people have been turned back from the border. Now I find myself ever so slightly stranded as all trains back to Calcutta, Varanasi or Delhi are booked up...

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May 4, 2008 - Darjeeling

The journey from Delhi to NJP, the railhead for Darjeeling, used to take 27 hours, leaving at 8am and arriving at 11am the next day. Now, through improvements in the trains and the timetabling that same trip is only 21 hours, arriving at the same time but not leaving Delhi until 2pm, a chance for a nice lie in, breakfast and a leisurely trip to the station. With some strange feelings in my gut still and a midday temperature in the mid 40s I didn't venture far from the fan at the hostel until it was time to head to the chaos that is New...

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Feb 24, 2008 - Finalmente Calcutta

Siamo salite sul treno alle 5 e rotte del pomeriggio e alle 11 del mattino ancora non siamo scese. Nel frattempo ammiriamo dalle porte (spalancate, chiaro!) il panorama che è davvero cambiato...moltissimo verde, piccoli villaggi, gente per la strada, davvero diverso dal paesaggio arido che abbiamo visto finora. A Calcutta prendiamo uno dei fantastici taxi gialli, ovviamente in comunità, e ci facciamo portare nella zona degli hotel economici. Lì siamo subito scortate da una serie di tizi in cerca di commissione e, dopo aver visto cose...

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Feb 23, 2008 - Kolkata (Calcutta), India

I spent only 10 active hours in Kolkata, formerly Calcutta, and made the most of my time in the big central park area near Sudder Street. Between the two areas was one of the many bus stations in the city. I wandered the park watching cricket and just going slow. Then I wandered through the bus station area which was great for photos. Then back to the hotel. Kolkata is called the 'City of Joy', and I didn't spend enough time there to really decide if the name fit. The poverty here is supposed to be epic, as is the pollution. On the surface...

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Feb 20, 2008 - Calcutta

We arrived in Calcutta extremely tired and made quick work of finding a guesthouse. We spent the next couple hours hitting the bookstores looking for a guide book and, with that task accomplished, we went back to our room for a much needed afternoon siesta. We were still tired after the nap so we made it an early night. We walked a few kilometers through the city (which has an incredibly cool vibe) to the Mother Theresa House. In this case, words are inadequate when trying to describe what it feels like to wander around the convent where...

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Feb 16, 2008 - Kolkata - Feb/08-14

This is the last posting of our trip. During the last five weeks we have boarded 13 flights using six different airlines and several other modes of transport (boat, tuktuk, scooter, bus, rikshaw & cyclo and of course cars of many different makes and models). Our last stop was Kolkata (formerly called Calcutta) – the largest city in eastern India. Until 1911 it was the second most important city in the British Empire, right after London. Then the capital of India was moved from Calcutta to New Delhi, where it remained ever since. Our...

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Nov 30, 2007 - Thanksgiving in Darjeeling

After our busy weeks of travel and sickness, Matt and I were eager to get to Darjeeling for a restful and relaxing four day weekend. We flew into Bagdogra, West Bengal, which is the closest airport to Darjeeling. We were told at the airport that the road to Darjeeling was closed due to a communist strike and that we could go to the crossroads town of Silliguri, to see about further arrangements. A ten minute taxi ride gets us to a little crossroads of a town, with little else except for cycle rickshaws and taxis. Red communist flags line...

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Oct 17, 2007 - Kolkata and on to Darjeeling

A few recollections of our morning in Kolkata before heading to Darjeeling.... We decide to get a pulled rickshaw to the Victoria monument. Within the first few minutes, we are not sure about the decision as the hard wheels crunch over every bump in the street and the seat tips back at an unnerving angle. It goes at a nice speed though and we are able to take in all of the small traders working at the sides of the narrow roads that are starting to fill with people. Turning on to the larger roads, we again wonder about our decision as our...

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