Well, it started off fine. This was a 140 km drive north from Darjeeling to Pelling in Sikkim. The bus left at 8 in the morning in warm sunshine and it arrived in Pelling at 6 o’clock in the evening in the middle of a thunder & lighting storm. You do the maths – with an hour off for stops it took 9 hours. The average speed was 14 km per hour!!! The driver never got out of third the whole way.
The first part took me through tall broad leaf forests with dappled sunlight through high foliage onto grasses, ferns, mosses, bamboos. The road snaked its way through the forest. At one point teak trees appeared. It took a fair while as the bus was old & lacked any acceleration and the road was a single & a half carriage way,which meant vehicles had to slow right down to pass each other. But the scenery was wonderful and the road relatively smooth.
Then when the bus dropped down through the trees to the border to enter Sikkim it all went very wrong and the real problems started. I will let the images tell the story. Needless to say, it can be summed up as the ‘rocky horror journey’ along pitted, unmade up roads where dust & shakes & rolls & grinding gears & exhaust fumes & horns hit the senses at every stage of this journey from Mad Max 3. I’ll let you use your imagination!!!