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All aboard the Toy Train: Darjeeling > Ghum

Toot Toot

Climbed aboard and grabbed a seat aboard this charming narrow-gauge vintage steam engine train. It's the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Darjeeling Himalayan Railway and was one of the highlights and attractions for me to do this trip. I wasn’t disappointed … not that I am a train spotter!

The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, also known as the DHR or Toy Train, is a 2ft / 610 mm narrow-gauge railway based on zig zag and loop-line technology which runs between New Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling in the Indian state of West Bengal. Built between 1879 and 1881, with six zig-zags and five loops, the railway is about 88km / 55 mile long. Its elevation varies from about 100m / 328ft at New Jalpaiguri to about 2,200m / 7,218ft at Darjeeling. Although four diesel locomotives handle most scheduled service, the daily tourist trains (from Darjeeling to Ghum—India's highest railway station—and the Red Panda, from Darjeeling to Kurseong) and steam-enthusiast specials are hauled by vintage British-built B-Class steam locomotives. The railway's headquarters are in Kurseong.

On 2 December 1999, UNESCO declared the DHR a World Heritage Site. Two more railway lines were later added, and the site became known as the mountain railways of India. Thanks Mr Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darjeeling_Himalayan_Railway

https://www.darjeeling-tourism.com/darj_000089.htm

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Ken - 2ft wide guage

Ken - 2ft wide guage

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How close we were to the people going about their day to day life as well as the vehicles and buildings at the side of the 2 foot wide track.

Ken, Joe, Bruce, Ngaire, Sally, Robyn, Ken, Tova

Ken, Joe, Bruce, Ngaire, Sally, Robyn, Ken, Tova

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Here are some more images from Dr “Google”:

https://www.google.co.nz/search?rlz=1C1GGRV_enNZ751NZ751&biw=1536&bih=734&tbm=isch&sa=1&ei=0XqzWtPiNuqF0wLV-ZWoBw&q=toy+train+darjeeling&oq=toy+tr+darjeeling&gs_l=psy-ab.1.0.0i7i30k1l4j0i7i5i30k1j0i8i7i30k1l5.4928.6716.0.8921.6.6.0.0.0.0.263.1196.2-5.5.0....0...1c.1.64.psy-ab..1.5.1195...0i8i30k1.0.d2S-ZcrKvWw

The interior of the train carriages:

https://www.google.co.nz/search?rlz=1C1GGRV_enNZ751NZ751&biw=1536&bih=734&tbm=isch&sa=1&ei=5HqzWrDiFaaG0wKmg76QDw&q=toy+train+darjeeling+interior&oq=toy+train+interior+darjeeling&gs_l=psy-ab.1.0.0i8i30k1.3317.5195.0.6765.9.9.0.0.0.0.348.1282.2-4j1.5.0....0...1c.1.64.psy-ab..4.5.1277...0i13k1j0i7i5i30k1j0i8i7i30k1j0i13i5i30k1.0.t3NToAh3GaY

Posted by bruceontour 00:07 Archived in India Tagged train unesco toy_train world_heritage_site darjeeling_himalayan_railway dhr Comments (0)

Huge rats, cats, dogs, birds & live sheep in the food market

New Market

Then after hearing about the history of this shopping mecca, officially built in the 1870s and once housed the most important retailers of the British era, it was free time for a short 2 hours so it was into the bowels of the extensive New Market.

New Market is a market in Kolkata situated on Lindsay Street at Free School Street (Mirza Ghalib Street). Although primarily "New Market" referred to the original enclosed market, today in local parlance, the entire shopping area is often known as "New Market".

Despite the appearance of new air-conditioned, American-style, shopping malls all over Kolkata, New Market, which has survived two devastating fires and regular flooding, remains at the core of the shopping experience in the city. Over 2,000 stalls under its roof sell everything from clothing to wheeled luggage to electronics to a special cheese found nowhere else. Under its apparent chaos lie extraordinary finds as well as remarkable bargains. Newmarket is a place to shop for garments & accessories, flowers, different food items including raw meat, fish, vegetables and fruits and even spices. There are crockeries and utensil stores. It also has a florist section dealing with exotic flowers. It is situated on Lindsay Street, Kolkata (Calcutta), just off Chowringhee Road, the market is open 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. Monday to Friday, until 7 p.m. on Saturdays, and closed on Sundays. Thanks Mr Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Market,_Kolkata

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Marbles ... a universal kids game around the whole world

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I don't think that this hand pulled rickshaw wallah or puller will be going anywhere fast. Just one of many that I saw around the market.

Kolkata is one of the last bastion of the hand pulled rickshaw. There are still about 18,000 rickshaw pullers and 6,000 rickshaws.

Most rickshaws serve people "just a notch above poor" who tend to travel short distances through the narrow & haphazard lanes that are sometimes inaccessible to even the most daring taxi driver.

Rickshaws transport middle-class residents who use their services out of convenience and for short distance trips to the local marketplace.

A woman with marketing to do can arrive in a rickshaw, have the rickshaw wallah wait until she comes back from various stalls to load her purchases, and then be taken home.

Proprietors of cafés or corner stores send rickshaws to collect their supplies.

They also provide an invaluable service for residents who could not be able to afford a taxi or auto rickshaw.

Some of the rickshaw pullers steadiest customers are middle-class families who will have a contract with a puller to take a child to and from school.

In the thick of monsoon rickshaws keep passengers above the water logged and swim through the flooded streets and lanes.

It is also used by the lane residents as a "24 hour" ambulance service.

Plus they are eco-friendly!

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https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2008/04/kolkata-india-rickshaw-driver-culture/

https://www.indiatimes.com/news/india/kolkata-s-hand-pulled-rickshaws-are-the-last-sketches-of-a-colonial-hangover-in-india-266494.html

Here are some more images from Dr “Google”:

https://www.google.co.nz/search?rlz=1C1GGRV_enNZ751NZ751&biw=1536&bih=734&tbm=isch&sa=1&ei=VWqtWoeYDsuE8gXO4KzwDw&q=kolkata+rickshaw+wallah+&oq=kolkata+rickshaw+wallah+&gs_l=psy-ab.12...588088.588088.0.589409.1.1.0.0.0.0.374.374.3-1.1.0....0...1c.1.64.psy-ab..0.0.0....0.QmV_EThsBkc

The New Market witnessed two major fires on 13 December 1985 and 20 July 2011, another massive fire on 18 May 2015 and again Nov 9, 2017.

The New Market witnessed two major fires on 13 December 1985 and 20 July 2011, another massive fire on 18 May 2015 and again Nov 9, 2017.

It was out the back going through the fish, meat and chicken sections that really interested me as oppose to the usual clothing, material and household ware, craft stalls in the main part of the New Market where the stall keepers kept asking “What do you want to buy?” Ken had mentioned about this part of the market and the locals living at the back as well.

By the time I got there, all but 2 operators had finished for the day. It was like a movie set with the birds all over the chopping blocks and in the rafters. Then the cats and dogs roaming around. Next door in amongst the meat section it was the large rats, more cats, dogs, birds and even live sheep.

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Look up into the rafters

Look up into the rafters

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Here are some more images from Dr “Google”:

https://www.google.co.nz/search?q=kolkata+new+market&rlz=1C1GGRV_enNZ751NZ751&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiXjZaaifTZAhVDxbwKHZENDBQQ_AUICigB&biw=1536&bih=734

Back to the hotel to give JD my visa and passport as he needed a copy for entry into Sikkim later in the trip.

Because of the winter fog, the train departure time was brought forward to 5.30pm / 17:30 with the need to leave the hotel at 3.30pm / 15:30 to allow for traffic.

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In the evening boarded the overnight New Jalpaiguri Kamrup Express train to New Jalpaiguri.

Now is my bag there?

Now is my bag there?

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What did I expect? Probably a similar standard of 4 berth A/C cabins to that I had 12 months ago in Vietnam. Yes, it was 4 berths but a lower standard. Curtains replaced doors and there were 2 extra bunks out in the passageway that unfortunately Robyn and Toba got. We were given bunks randomly separated but allocated as males and females.

Yes, it was a basic overnight train with a pillow and blanket but I forgot to bring out of my backpack my sleeping sheet. By luck got what I had wanted … a bottom bunk.

Train slowly pulled out at 5.37pm / 17:37 before picking up speed and soon the rocking motion.

Experienced overnight travel like a local. One of my fellow passengers was a doctor with the Indian railway:

  • 1.4 million - Work for the railways.
  • 5.6 million - When extended to include the families.
  • 3 million - Retired.
  • 10 million = TOTAL.
  • All receive free health care through hospitals and clinics.
  • There are 2,500 doctors.
  • Country divided into 16 zones broken into 54 divisions.
  • Each division with its own hospital with a major zonal hospital with more specialised services.

Remember India has a population of 1.3+ billion.

With the gentle rocking motion sat back, got some well-earned and likely much-needed rest en route to our next stop.

Posted by bruceontour 22:37 Archived in India Tagged market train meat_market Comments (0)

Devaraja Market

Day 7 Mysore > Chennai > Māmallapuram

Despite the constant sounds of the vehicles horns performing like an orchestra outside along a major road, breakfast was enjoyed under the pavilion in the open air of the Green Hotel grounds.

While breakfast at 395 rupees / NZ$8.30 / US$6.10 cost twice that I could have had back at the hotel where we were staying, nothing beats this hotel setting and it's colonial atmosphere. I could well imagine how the gentry would have been served their g&t out sitting on the green lawn in the midst of this bustling city.

http://www.greenhotelindia.com/

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Walking back hearing the sound of saxophone being played in the middle of a local park near place called Rythmn and Blues. Wonder if there is a connection?

Devaraja Market

Local bus to the Devaraja Market.

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Pomegranate

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Pomegranate

Pomegranate

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Only an hour was allowed here and yes, I could have certainly spent more time here talking to the store keepers and asking if they wouldn't mind their picture being taken. Two quick photos - head and shoulder plus one showing what they were selling. Some wanted their photo sent to them.

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A real young salesman ... he will go far. Pity I had no need to buy any of his paints.

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180 rupees for the imported American apples

140 rupees for the local Indian ones

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50 rupees for the garland of flowers - will be taken to the temple

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Was asked if I wanted to see how incense is hand rolled. Yes, then the "hook" with the perfume sampling and "you want to buy" routine.

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Puffed rice - paper rice

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Sugar cane ... looks like soap

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Mouse / rat (rodent) trap

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Banana leaf

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While I have been through many local markets around the world, this one fascinated me with the colour and fragrance of the guys and girls making the flower garlands. It was pointed out that my requested posed photos of store keepers are of males. Need to work on getting the gender balance right.

https://www.lonelyplanet.com/india/mysuru-mysore/attractions/devaraja-market/a/poi-sig/1293025/356332

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Local bus 266 back, "Whats app" call to brother Tim and 30 minutes was enough time to head to the neighbouring food court for a cold press orange and lime juice at This and That for 120 rupees / NZ$2.50 / US$1.85 that took far too long to make. Perhaps they had to pick the fruit.

Jalandhar Express train

Tuk tuk to the railway station.

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Recharging their mobile phones

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Fifteen minutes late in leaving at 2.40pm / 14:40. The Jalandhar Express train ride to Chennai on the east coast aboard Indian's vast rail system soon quickly past.

Met fellow passengers and let the landscapes soak in with a bright orange sunset before night darkness quickly descended.

Pre-dinner drinks served meaning was given a 1 litre bottle of water and 250ml tetra pack of juice.

Dinner service started at 6pm with a tray of Indian snacks and finished with a tub of ice cream served after 9pm.

In between was a couple of bread sticks and butter, soup, tea or coffee before served the main meal of rice, Dahl and a vegetarian container plus yoghurt curd. Yes, the railway crew certainly stretched out the meal service and why not.

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End of the line when the train pulled in to Chennai Central just after 10pm / 22:00.

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A 90 minute bus ride to the Māmallapuram got us there around midnight.

Posted by bruceontour 16:59 Archived in India Tagged market train Comments (0)

Cheapest dinner of the trip

Just 50 rupees / NZ $1.00 / US$0.80.

Day 3 Kochi > Kozhikode > Kalpetta

Birds are awake and the sun is up so must I.

With a 9am / 09:00 departure for the railway station, it was out just after 7am / 07:00 to find somewhere open for breakfast. From yesterday's walk around, this town certainly doesn't wake early for the cafes and restaurants to open to cater for the early bird tourist breakfast trade. Perhaps the tourists just want a lie in.

Went to a bakery that I saw yesterday morning open in Burgher St with a view to buy my lunch to eat on the train and they were open serving breakfast.

After Guenter's email suggestion to try Masala Tea and as it was on the menu, a large cup 60 rupees / NZ$1.25 / US$.90 was ordered along with a banana coconut pancake 120 rupees / NZ$2.50 / US$1.85 and scrambled eggs 50 rupees / NZ$1.00 / US$.80 rupees. That plus lunch came to 365 rupees / NZ$7.60 / US$5.60 was more than enough to set myself up for the day.

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A 9am / 09:00 met to leave with the promised stop at the Synagogue.

Opened at 10am / 10:00 so we had a bit of free time before that.

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The handpainted blue Chinese floor tiles were all different yet at a glance the same. Plus the many chandeliers were 2 unique features of this 400 year old building. No photography inside the Synagogue. As I like taking photos of door frames, somehow the interior got in the way.

Originally built in 1568, this synagogue was partially destroyed by the Portuguese in 1662, and rebuilt two years later when the Dutch took Kochi. It features an ornate gold pulpit and elaborate hand-painted, willow-pattern floor tiles from Canton, China, which were added in 1762. It’s magnificently illuminated by Belgian chandeliers and coloured-glass lamps. The graceful clock tower was built in 1760. There's an upstairs balcony for women, who worshipped separately according to Orthodox rites.

https://www.lonelyplanet.com/india/kochi-cochin/attractions/a/poi-sig/356338

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Then back into the shuttle van and onto the railway station.

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Car C1, seat 68 but gather under the sign 4 on platform 1. Confused?

Perhaps it should be... go to platform 1, find the sign with 4 on it and this is where the train carriage C1 will stop. Board and find seat 68.

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Climbed aboard, took a seat and enjoyed the 4 hour ride to Kozhikode.

The bullet train it certainly was not. Left at noon some 40 minutes late. Past through the countryside and the new airport with their solar panels laid out like soldiers in neat rows capturing the sun rays allowing it to be the first solar powered airport in the world.

From the comfort of the aircon carriages we past fields of rice that had just being harvested, tall coconut trees and banana plantations. Villages dotted the countryside.

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Biryani, coffee, Chai, cold drinks shouted out by the Arenco guys dressed in their red tops as they constantly went up and down the carriages touting for trade carrying their goods on the their heads cushioned by a flat top baseball cap.

The train took 4 hours 40 minutes to reach Kozhikode with many stops along the way.

The Kozhikode railway station was bustling crowded with people coming and going or patiently waiting for their train.

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All aboard our own bus for the 2.5 hour journey uphill to Kalpetta in the Wayanad district.

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Lost count of the number of tight switch backs. The driver had to literally use the whole road to get around the tight corners. So many cars but it's Christmas Eve and was to be expected as people headed back to their home area.

Passing fields of pineapple and rubber plantations we finally reached Kalpetta in the dark.

We all decided to go vegetarian but the crazy busyness of the Udupi Restaurant meant one group had to wait for quite a while before a table became free. Reminded me of some of the jam packed Chinese restaurants that I've been to.

Cheapest dinner so far. Just 50 rupees / NZ $1.00 / US$0.80 for the Masala Dosa while the Pepsi cost 30 rupees / NZ$0.60 / US$0.50. (PS - This turned out to be the cheapest dinner of the whole trip.)

Google Images
https://www.google.co.nz/search?q=Udupi+Restaurant+Kalpetta&rlz=1C1GGRV_enNZ751NZ751&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiMrvHAgbnZAhWBnpQKHcvVDjkQ_AUICygC&biw=958&bih=887

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Finally got to Villa Wynard for the next 2 nights. The last couple hundred of metres we had to walk as the bus was too large for the narrow lane. Thank goodness our bags came in the Villa Wynard's small van.

https://www.google.co.nz/search?rlz=1C1GGRV_enNZ751NZ751&biw=958&bih=887&tbm=lcl&ei=JHOOWonWN8Wd0wLcuLaoCw&q=villa+wayanad+kalpetta+kerala&oq=+Villa+Wynard++Kalpetta&gs_l=psy-ab.1.0.0i13k1l2j0i8i13i10i30k1.79657.81601.0.84177.2.2.0.0.0.0.687.687.5-1.1.0....0...1c.1.64.psy-ab..1.1.685....0.vLSVAo-NyOQ#rlfi=hd:;si:8487123184983421820;mv:!1m3!1d7449.842397728897!2d76.08083!3d11.6152105!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i208!2i366!4f13.1

An apartment block with several rooms, some sharing the bathroom. Great water pressure after the last hotel which was at times a dribble. Talk about narrow and firm beds. We were warned about the firm beds so no surprise here.

Posted by bruceontour 00:29 Archived in India Tagged train vegetarian_food Comments (0)

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