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Read and rate Travel Journal Entries for West Bengal, India

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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Jul 19, 2007 - Kolkata- Home Alone!

As I sat down to write this I noticed an interesting juxtapostion. I am sitting on the patio of the Salvation Army hostel in Calcutta. A girl sits at the other end of the table staring down at the street life below. Inside the lounge others watch "Die Harder 3" on the "Star" movies channel. Does this define the much disputed difference between "tourists" and "travellers"? "Where is the girl you were with in Nako?" An Israeli I had met there asked me in Chitkul, a couple of stops later. "Lucy from Luxembourg? I just shared a room with her."...

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Jun 13, 2007 - Farewell India ...

Matt: A cockroach about the size of my thumb floats, half-submerged, in the murky water. There are plastic bags, cigarette butts, bits of paper and plastic. It is not only rainwater flowing down the middle of the street. Last night we watched streetchildren peeing into the gutter. There are urinals along the street as well. Human and dog feces too. It is all flowing like a slow river down the street. Taxis drive slowly, their tires half-submerged. The rickshaw wallahs are happy today: this is the only city where men still pull rickshaw...

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May 29, 2007 - Kolkata

After a bit of a long haul I arrived in Chennai where I had to wait for about twelve hours before the plane went to Kolkutta, that place where the previous name was exactly the same but a different spelling!. Checked into a shitty room and had a kip for a few hours, went to the internet where randomly I strolled straight into the one which Chen and I used to look up Mcdonalds on that excursion all those weeks ago. Wasted some more time doing basically nothing and caught a rickshaw to the airport where the guy turned out to be number three...

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Trip Journal


On another jaunt...

Apr 15, 2007 - Mirik

We stayed in Darjeeling until Sunday morning - following our visit to Kurseong. As you have no doubt read, we were finally able to see the mighty Himalayan range on our last morning there. We hired a car to drive us along a different route down the hills to a small gem of a hill station called Mirik. This road passed through forests for much of the way, and just before we reached Mirik, we encountered tea gardens covering the hills in every possible direction. I missed an golden opportunity to capture the tea plantations with my camera -...

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Apr 15, 2007 - Hospitality Hostage or, when's dinner?

We arrived at Aditi and Mohan's tea estate house, but they were not there - the toy train that runs parallel to the Darjeeling road had gone off the tracks, blocking traffic. They were stuck on the wrong side of the accident (nobody hurt) in their newly picked up car. Aditi, a very religious woman, was not surprised by their misfortune. She had wanted to take the car to be blessed at the Kalighat temple before the trip, but Mohan thought it would make them late. So the car never received its "puja" and they encountered misfortune on the...

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Apr 14, 2007 - Horses and other health hazards

4/13/07 Singtom Tea Estate After visiting the projects we had a choice of driving another three hours to get to Iditi and her husband's tea estate or drive for an hour and take a horse for an hour. Of course, the boys picked the horse option! Before I tell you about the drama with the horse, let me tell you a little about the CHAI project. When Steve was at Tazo he partnered with Mercy Corps to create the CHAI Project, which stands for Community Health and Advancement Initiative. Although I was familiar with CHAI before our visit, my...

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Apr 13, 2007 - Kurseong

Anil and I wanted to visit the St. Alphonsus Social and Agricultural Society (SASAC) in Kurseong before leaving the Darjeeling area. This community was founded by Father Abraham, a Jesuit missionary, over thirty years ago after he had worked for many years as the principal of the St. Alphonsus School. The school was established to teach the "poorest of the poor" children and Father Abraham made several trips to Canada to raise money to build a new school when the original building was near collapse. Our good friend, Barb Moreau, had worked...

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Apr 12, 2007 - The Darjeeling Triathalon

What I didn't see in Calcutta: 1. The Indian Museum 2. The Victoria Memorial 3. The Park St. Cemetery 4. The Botanical Gardens 5. Mother Theresa's Mission and Motherhouse (where she's buried) 6. Howrah Bridge Except for the ill-fated Kalighat temple, I didn't see a single Calcutta sight. I feel like a bad tourist. I already wrote about the mall visit and the party. Today, Kim volunteered to watch Jack and Henry at the pool while I joined Steve at a tea tasting and lunch. A car was sent to pick Steve and I up from the hotel (I'm really...

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Apr 10, 2007 - Barefoot in Calcutta Act I

We flew on Jet Airways to Calcutta (or Kolkata as it's now called). Jet Airways was pretty good - better than a lot of domestic American flights I've been on! The best part was the personal entertainment screens (all airlines need these!). I watched a show on Haute Couture and one on Marie Antoinette. Henry watched his first ever SpongeBob Square Pants and laughed so hard. I love his laugh. Once we arrived we went through immigration. Henry and I went through first and waited for the Smiths. As we waited I watched a hippy couple go through...

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