Steve in the morning fog. No mountains on view today!
It was a rainy, foggy morning, but we held out hope that the day would clear so we could do some proper sightseeing. After a tasty breakfast served on antique china with ancient tarnished silver, we found our driver. He informed us (or rather, he informed Steve. I am just completely ignored here) that today we would see a “nine-point tour” of the Kalimpong area. I think finding nine points of interest in small town Kalimpong took some effort and a lot of stretching, but he got it done.1)
Our first stop was a military golf course
. This is a military town, and the guys have a pretty nice place to play golf, that I can now say for sure. OK. 2)
Next up was the “famous” Zong Dog Palri Fo- Brang Monastery
which belongs to the same Buddhist sect as the present Dalai Lama.
Military golf course in Kalimpong.
It appeared to have been built in the 1960s and wasn’t terribly picturesque or even interesting. 3)
Next was the Pineview Viewpoint
, but all we could see was clouds and fog -- a complete white out! 4) Then we went to the Pineview Nursery
where we looked at two greenhouses filled with cactus plants. This is what I mean when I say that someone had to stretch a bit to find nine points of interest for tourists. By the way, the admission fee was 25 cents. For BOTH of us. 5)
Then we visited a Hindu temple
, but I didn’t catch the name of it. To get to the next stop, we had to drive through Kalimpong Town -- unpaved winding roads, people everywhere… it was a complete riot of noise and color. Fantastic. No stop though.
Flowers in a monastery wall.
It was back to sightseeing. 6)
We saw a nice historic church
on the grounds of Dr Graham’s complex. We didn’t learn who Dr Graham was…maybe a teacher or humanitarian, since there was also a large school on the grounds. 7)
For a little variety, we visited a Buddhist temple
, and we walked through the small cave that ran underneath it. That was pretty exciting. By the way, this was a “bonus stop” -- not on the original plan. So make that a TEN point tour 8)
At this point we had seen enough temples, but, wait, there’s one more. The Monkey Temple
, with an enormous, frightening half man/half monkey statue. Ick. 9)
off to Delo Hill
, which reportedly has a spectacular view of the surrounding mountains.
Altitude check at Delo Hill.
Not today though…all was shrouded in fog. There were many Indian families there, sitting on benches, walking the lawn, and riding a pony. It seemed very 19th century British. 10)
Then one final temple. Oy! I think it was called Mangal Dahm
. We didn’t actually visit this one. Steve and I just walked around the corner so the driver couldn’t see us, then we sat on the bench awhile. Then we returned to the car. As I said, we’ve had enough of the temples.
Between each stop, the driver opened Steve’s door for him, and always asked what Steve thought of this sight or that sight. Sir this, sir that. Not once was I addressed. Whatever
On the way home we drove through town again, and there was a little action there. A pretty big demonstration or protest was going on, with lots of chanting and people carrying “We want Gorkhaland” signs.
Demonstration in Kalimpong.
Not sure what that means (found out!...read June 8 blog)
, but it was pretty interesting. I was thinking that I would have rather hung out in the town than see five temples. We had to park and wait for them to go by, and I took a video.
We got back to the hotel and had lunch (more yellow Indian food), packed up (the porters were little old ladies about 5 feet tall. Our bags were bigger than they were!), checked out, then we found our driver for the next leg of the trip. When I came out he looked at his watch and said, “only one hour late!” We weren’t late. He wouldn’t listen when I tried to argue in good humor that we weren’t late (our itinerary said: eat lunch, then leave with your driver. Exactly what we did!). He wouldn’t listen and just shrugged and walked off. Nice way to start a long road trip. Vexing!