Okay, we have internet in Darjeeling so I can catch up on various things that happened that weren’t documented here. The day before yesterday our train from Kolkata arrived in Siliguri; from there, we took a car over terrible roads (for reasons, it appeared, of the driver’s own caprice) but we eventually ended up in Jaldapara, which is a wildlife reserve in the part of India that’s sandwiched in between Bangladesh and Bhutan. By the time we got there, we were extremely dirty from too much travel; but for a cabin in the middle of a wildlife reserve, it had a surprisingly fine bathroom & we showered and napped & had some dinner.
There are two main things that you can do in Jaldapara: take an elephant safari or take a jeep safari. Taking a jeep safari is much, much simpler, but you’re not likely to see very much because jeeps make enormous noise. Taking an elephant safari is preferable – the animals are not as afraid of elephants, even with a harrowing number of people with cameras poised on top of them – but it turns out to be extremely complicated to set up, lots of waiting around and forms to fill out and a staggering number of fees to be assessed. But: after several hours, everything got sorted out to all the bureaucrats’ satisfaction and all the fees were paid, and our elephant safari was officially scheduled. And the next morning we woke up and took a car deeper into the jungle and then waited around for a long time – while advertised as a 6:30 ride, it ended up being more like 7:30 – and eventually we were put on elephants and trotted about the jungle, which was full of birds and insects and large and seemingly lazy deer (we kept waking them up) and as promised a couple of rhinoceroses who looked nonplussed at, though probably used to, having herds of elephants parades past them again and again. They are splendid beasts. There are around a hundred or them wandering around Jaldapara; it’s the largest concentration in India aside from another reserve in Assam. One wonders how long they’ll be around.
Also we saw a lot of birds, parrots, peacocks, hawks.
Jaldapara is full of statues of wildlife, presumably done by government artists. Here, for example, is an elephant:
And here are some real elephants, including a baby elephant that tagged along behind us:
Here is a rhinoceros taking a bath:
And here is a rhinoceros who doesn’t care about bathing:
Here is a lazy deer:
And here are some snacks that I bought because I mistakenly thought the name was “Tricky Nasty”. I was mistaken. They are terrible, like Cheetos bathed in rancid ketchup. Don’t ever buy them:
And finally, here is the terrifyingly named jeep that took us almost the full way to our hotel in Darjeeling:
Okay, that’s all for now.