here, there, everywhere

Lions & Tigers & Bears, Oh My!

In India on May 16, 2009 at 1:19 pm

So we didn’t see any lions, but at the Darjeeling zoo yesterday we did get face-to-face with Snow Leopards, Cloud Leopards, a Siberian Tiger, Red Pandas, Yaks, Tibetan Wolves, and the Himalayan Black Bear.  It’s a pretty decent zoo and they seem to have done a good job of protecting and repopulating some endangered species.  The walk to the zoo was a pleasant 20 minute stroll out of the main town centre.  The Himalayan Mountaineering mMseum was included in the entrance so we also managed to check out the salutes to the pioneers of the big climbs out this way.  Tenzing Norgay is buried a short way away and that is pretty cool.

Today I headed up to observatory hill in the morning to see if I could see Kanchenjunga from the lookout, I think I saw it but not sure as I have no idea what it looks like.  That used to be considered the tallest peak in the Himalayas until one day someone saw Everest peaking out from behind.  Afterwards I met up with the guys again and another British fellow we met a few days ago to go for an afternoon trek to the Happy Valley Tea Plantation for a tea demonstration.  I don’t drink tea and I find the cult following kind of weird, but the tea we got to sample was pretty impressive.  With the workers being paid about 50 rupees a day, about $1USD, it makes you appreciate what you’re drinking.  Another 30 minute walk after that to the Botanical Gardens where we saw a wisteria planted in 1878.  It’s aged well and I’m hoping the pictures I snapped do justice to the massiveness of this thing.

Just picked up my beautiful new sari, gorgeous handwork and embroidery all along, got the top tailored so I think once I’m cleaned up and actually find something to wear it to it’ll look pretty good.

Today was the counting of the election votes.  Darjeeling is a BJP stronghold since the BJP promised it could separate. Congress won by what I guess is a landslide but the BJP did win a seat here in Darjeeling.  There’s a big military presence here tonight, men in green patrolling the streets and there’s a chance things will get a little hairy before the night is out but at this point all is calm.  There were firecrackers being set off in the streets this afternoon but that seems to be the extent of it.  We’ll see what tomorrow brings.

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