We got up early again, not quite as bad as the day before, but still early enough. Our guide met us in the lobby of the hotel and we got into the car and headed out. It was a short ride to a big parking lot with lots of other people (westerners) and a bunch of hawkers. We were told we couldn’t take large bags into the Taj, and tripods were banded. I quickly moved all my camera gear from my backpack into my shoulder bag and left the tripod behind. I had already managed to use it once in Singapore, so it wasn’t a complete waste of effort bringing it.
Our last day in Mussoorie started with a taxi ride out to a Tibetan Buddhist temple in Happy Valley. It was just Dad and I in the taxi, Mum had a day off to get over a cold. Rigesh took us down through the bazaar and then down the north/east side of the mountain on a road we hadn’t been on before. Near the temple the road was being dug up to it in sewage, so we parked the car and walked.
We got up at a reasonable hour and headed down from the house to the school gate to get a taxi to take us to the top of the hill in Landour. Usually Howard and Jill walk up for church, but they spared us and got a taxi to take us up. Before church we walked around the top of the hill and got another view of the Himalayas, even less clouds than the day before.
Day 11 started at a reasonable hour after breakfast. We had hired a taxi for the day, Mr Singh, to take us down the road to see some sites. We took the road from Mussoorie down to Dhanaulti.
Day 10 was a bit of the rest day. After Lucknow and all the travel the couple of days before we needed it. In the morning we walked back to Mussoorie to order some clothes. Dad was to get some new pants, Mum some tops, and I went to get measured up for a new suit.
Day 9 started early with breakfast and (a much needed for some) pit stop (squat pans only on the over night trains) at Hotel President, Dehradun. After ordering an omelette I found and open wifi access point called Asus. It wasn’t there for very long but I did manage to get some emails down and confirm Australia’s loss in the cricket the night before. The wifi access point seemed to leave the hotel before we did. Still have no idea who it was.
From here we set off up The Mountain with just a short stop for fresh vegetables for the week. We would climb nearly 1700 metres from Dehradun to Mussoorie.
In the past couple of weeks we have been driven around India in a couple of different forms of transport. From rickshaws and tongas to the iconic Ambassador and large vans. We’ve been on multilane highways and toll roads and down tiny windy streets lined with shops. What is impressive is not the number of car accidents every year, which is an astronomical number, and the number of deaths – but the accidents that don’t happen. So far I am yet to see an accident (knock on wood). The number of close calls has been enormous, but somehow at the last moment the bike will always just merge slightly left, or the rickshaw with change direction just enough.
In the morning we decided to walk down to the botanical gardens. It was only a few hundred metres down the road, so how could we get lost? We stepped out of the hotel and all headed left, except Mum who thought it was right. While rickshaw drivers swarmed I waited for a GPS lock to confirm the direction we should have been heading. Left.
In the morning we had a driver take us to La Martiniere college for my Dad to do some interviews for his work. We thought it was at least 15min away, but turned out to be just over the road. Felt kinda silly all piling out of the car after 30 seconds. Turns out there are two campuses and the other campus was the one we were thinking of.
Day 5 started with my parents’ friends, Howard and Jill who live in Mussoorie, meeting us in the hotel. They had come down from Dehradun on an overnight train. We went downstairs for breakfast and to catch up. Howard and Jill work at an international school in Mussoorie, Woodstock. They have lived in India for quite a number of years starting in the 90’s and raised a family here. Both speak a little both of Hindi and Howard can converse quite happily in Bengali for hours with anyone he has just met. He will just walk up to someone and start a conversation.