The plan today was pretty ambitious but clear. Get up early and try the unknown road up through the Nepalis mountains to a very unknown boarder crossing of Pashupatinagar back into India with the final destination of the colonial heat reprieve tea plantation town of Darjeeling at about 2,042 meters above sea level. Totally doable for 3 grown men, too much luggage and in a 9 horsepower autorickshaw, or so we thought.
After a second night in probably two of the worse "hotels" we've ever stayed at we were keen on getting out early. All of us have had some extreme accommodations in past travels but 2 places in 2 nights infested with mosquitoes, bed bugs and this past night rats, we were ready for a slight upgrade. I guess you can't expect much if you're paying about $10 per night total for 3 guys.
Off we went to take Lily to her limits and to all of our shock she mastered the mountain climb like a champ! Getting up to about 1,000 meters, mostly in 1st and 2nd gear we took a breather at an info center. They were pretty shocked that we're attempting this and said it would be a new record, no autorickshaw had ever crossed that border before so we were in for a record!! How awesome is that?!?! Well, that jubilation was short lived. Moments later he remembered that this particular border is only open to Nepalis and Indians as it doesn't have an immigration office. Gutted we had to but that dream behind us and head back down. We still had hopes of getting to Darjeeling via the normal route but meant we had to get through the border quick. All was looking good until we got to Indian immigration. First, we had to get photocopies of our passports. After finally finding a "xerox" shop down a border town alleyway (and those of you who've ever been to a border town alleyway can probably picture it now) I hustled back hoping we could get moving quick. Just as it was our turn the one and only border official decided it was lunch time which meant another hour delay. Gutted we gave up hope... until our new friends on the Wind Maker team pined us their location, Kurseong about 1,500 meters up the mountains and found a sweet hotel with fantastic views of the tea plantations and surrounding mountains. Reachable before dark we went for it and were extremely glad we did.
The road up to Kurseong was amazing! Winding roads, friendly people along the way waving as we passed, a few monkeys to give our last bananas to, and breathtaking views guides us up. Arriving just before sunset a disappointing start to the day turned into the highlight of the our journey... so far.