Tiptoeing into Nepal.
Darjeeling Travel Blog› entry 97 of 251 › view all entries
June 8th, 2008 – by: cmgervais
We were driving along the Nepal border, and the driver pointed out some houses that actually straddled the border. He joked that the inhabitants “eat dinner in Nepal and go to the bathroom in India.” Both Steve and I laughed a little too loud at that. There was concrete pillar that marked the border, and I wanted a photo. So we jumped out, and Steve and I tiptoed through the cow manure into Nepal! We didn’t stay long, but it was a nice enough visit.
We also stopped at a scenic viewpoint or two, and then we came to the main event, Mirik Lake. There were dozens of other jeeps and taxis there, and vendors crowded the main parking area. I somehow ended buying a packet of fried chip-like snacks that I didn’t want (Steve ate them later), because the man just kind of put them in my hand and took my money, smiling all the while.
We decided to walk around the lake. The path was muddy in spots, and one really had to watch out for the frequent patches of cow, horse, goat, and dog poop. There was an abundance of trash on the shore, which didn’t stop the kids from swimming in the water. Ugh. Sometimes we were walking in front of squalid shacks, sometimes small shops, and sometimes through old pine forest.
On the way home, we ran into another of those “We want Gorkhaland” demonstrations. Finally, we got an explanation from our driver. He said the government, located in the state capital of Calcutta, does nothing for the area in terms of municipal services or infrastructure. For example, many of the roads haven’t been changed since they were built by the British. So the Gorkhaland people want to separate from West Bengal and become a separate state, called Gorkhaland (“Gorkha” refers to the people in the area who speak Nepalese). That way their tax dollars will be spent in their area, instead of in Calcutta. Our driver was obviously a smart guy, well educated, so it was a very interesting conversation.
When we got back to the hotel, I headed off to the Cyber Café for blog updates. I spent three hours there, then Steve and I went to town for dinner again. We ate pizza and French fries (both pretty bad) at Frank Ross Café. Steve said the pizza “wasn’t that bad” which shows me just how much his Pizza Standards have fallen in the past two months!
Tomorrow is our last full day in the area. I can’t say I am sad to be leaving. In fact, I am thrilled we are finally going to be moving on.
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