Wednesday, February 12, 2014

SHANGHAI TO DARJEELING

I have just returned from an amazing trip to India, Kolkata, then on to Darjeeling. The Kolkata stage is for another blog, another day.

As we travelled from the airport along narrow crowded streets, which were made even worse by a festival taking place, we thought we would never arrive at our destination. Still it was anything but boring, lots to see and to take our mind off the appalling state of the roads. Four and a half hours later we arrived at our destination, tired but happy. The next morning we were up bright and early for our visit to a tea garden. Darjeeling is the home of some of the best teas in the world, and we were lucky enough to be visiting one of the best gardens. For once this was not a business trip only pleasure.



Once again we found ourselves being driven down appalling roads, although road is not really the word. We were on dirt paths which had been washed away by the monsoons last year. Not much left, and with the mountain falling away beneath us it was a bit hair raising. Then when we were told it's better not to wear seat belts as it's easier to jump out if you have to!!!!!!!




However once we reached our destination at around 5,000ft it was well worth being thrown around in the back of a jeep. There was the tea gardens in all their splendour, and a beautiful colonial bungalow where would be meeting the estate manager. 


Over tea, darjeeling of course, on the veranda with Mr & Mrs Sen we chatted about the gardens, the bungalow and what it was like living in such a rural setting. We were surprised that their daughter undertakes this journey we had just taken twice a day. Going to, and coming home from school. I'm sure you get used to it. They were charming hosts. 


Tea over we were soon being shown the wonderful scenery all around.This is an organic garden and I was surprised to see lots of lemongrass grown all around. This is a natural insect repellent. What a wonderful idea. The tea gardens were silent as it is not picking season, but we were able to enjoy the warm sun and soak up all the surrounding area before heading off to the processing plant, again silent as it is out of season. There was some maintenance going on but no tea production. The factory workers do the maintenance themselves so they are never really not working.



Tour over we headed back to the bungalow. A very welcome G&T was offered, what better place than to enjoy it than on the veranda of this wonderful home. I could imagine this having been done many times in earlier days. Then we moved on to the most delicious lunch which had been prepared when we were doing the tour. It was all laid out in the dining room and each dish looked fantastic. Where to start? No problem, we were encouraged to take some of everything and take it out on to the veranda. Al fresco eating is my idea of heaven, and with the views before me this really was a treat.

Rice with spicy beans
Spinach and paneer
Raita
Chicken tikka
Lentil patties
Cauliflower and peas


Okay hungry yet? Even better is that the vegetable were all grown in the garden, the paneer and yoghurt came from their own cows. Very impressive. As for the taste, delicious. Every mouthful tastier than the next. Well you really did have to go for seconds, it would have been impolite not to, right?

We left very happy, very full and pleased we had made the journey, however scared we were.

We couldn't have anticipated such a wonderful day, it was way over and above expectations. Our hosts were gracious, and extended wonderful hospitality. I would like to think one day we may go back, but more importantly would love to be able to return kindness extended to us by Mr & Mrs Sen.

I will never forget this trip.





1 comment:

  1. The food looks amazing, and what a wonderful experience. Agree with you about the state of the Indian 'roads'.

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