Sunday, January 2, 2011

Darjeeling, Photshuling, Paro.

Well, it had to happen.  Well ,several things had to actually.  Firstly the weather closed in on Darjeeling and on New Years Eve the place got a pizzling.  Very very wet.  Didn't stop my little Muslim friend at 4.00 am though.  The road up out of Darjeeling over the endless rail crossings was very very treacherous.  At one stage I looked in the rear view mirror and saw someone on a bike step off in spectacular fashion.  Turned out to be a local, but they seem to regard this as normal(?)
The trip the down from Darjeeling was, to quote the deep thinkers, well actually, even they couldn't describe it.  The fog set in and for 30 odd k's down it was alternately brilliant sunshine and then navigating from the edge of the road.  Seriously, 3 to 5 meters visibility, thumb constantly on the horn (more so than usual).  The rain the night before had stripped most of the leaves and deposited them as a wet slippery carpet to herald our passing by and the whole deal was liberally bedaubed in a lovely coat of 50,000 litres of diesel fuel, giving the whole road a fetching shimmer of the spectacular blues and purples. 
The next inevitable thing was Derek's demise.  Past the bottom of the descent and on a greasy, muddy, off camber downhill, I came upon a parked truck.  There were two 4 WDs coming towards me.  At the last moment they decided they needed my side of the road more than me.  The result, as I said was inevitable.  Don behind me saw it all unfold and reckoned I took the right option of trying to stop behind the truck.  He may even have it on camera.  Anyway, I held a front wheel lock up to about 10 kph when it finally tucked under and deposited me on to the road way.  The pricks never even stopped.  To get the picture, imagine a coked up pelican coming in to land and he hits his toes first instead of his heels.  I'd love to say I was elegant but think about the pelican and you will know otherwise.   No damage to me and minor to the bike, which, by the way has not broken down since day three.

The ride into Potshuling, the border of Bhutan was a typical Indian fiasco.   We arrived expecting a "fixer" to get us to our hotel on the Bhutan side of the border and fix up immigration in the morning.  No such luck.  Rush hour and bureaucracy to burn.  Back through the knot of traffic to the Indian office to get permission to leave and back to the border for the same mind numbing stupidity.  To get an idea of this border town at rush hour, think about taking your full wheely bin and upending it into a small cooking funnel.  I think that would adequately cover it.

Potshuling to Paro today.  Some of the best and worst roads on the entire planet.  There is 95 % less traffic here and strangely enough, even the animals are better behaved.  With one exception though.  I took a really wide path around a cow which was kicking and bucking and cutting figure of eights around some guide posts.  It was like a rodeo bull on LSD.  Any way the hotel here is great.  It has hot water and a heater (it is about 3 degrees outside and 4 degrees in the internet room.)  The staff after dinner put on an impromptu song and dance fest which was most excellent.  We have a lay day here tomorrow during which time those who should be fitted with the canvass sports coat which ties at the back will be climbing to Tiger's Nest.  Look it up on Google and tell me I'm wrong for wanting to put my feet up.

Staye tuned.


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