I felt much more enthusiastic and energetic this morning so the day of procrastination was worthwhile. Hardly a crack of dawn start but after breakfast and checking out of Hotel Mhelung (700 Rs for a double room). I was on the road by 10:30. I walked out of town, up the hill and was ready to coast downhill to the plain after a few minutes pushing. I wore Chacos today (my non-riding sandals); my Keens riding shoes/sandals, with their metal cleat attachment on the sole, didn’t offer much friction on the asphalt and I sometimes felt like I was skating.
Once the downhill started, it didn’t want to quit. The road surface wasn’t great, worn, with potholes and gravel so I had to keep my speed under careful control. And it took a while to slow down, with my old-style linear rim brakes, so I kept the speed low.
Tea-plantations for a while, with people working in them at this time of day. I stopped a few times, not wanting this to be over too quickly and to take photographs (to be posted here when edited). But after about an hour and a half I was down onto more level terrain and I had to earn my forward progress. Still lots of tea, though, and shade provided along the road by trees, so it was very pleasant.
Then I was back on the road I had been driven on in the jeep taxi on the way up to Darjeeling almost four weeks ago. Lot of pedestrians on the road to weave in and out of, a few goats and the occasional cow, constant horns sounding from vehicles approaching from behind, or head on in my lane. And the familar, but currently disused as a result of landslides, narrow-gauge railway tracks alongside the road.
It seemed like rush-hour in Siliguri but it was early afternoon so it’s probably busy all the time. Noisy. Busy. Difficult on my heavily-laden bike. But I made it into town and actually found the hotel I was looking for. Getting to it was a different matter; roads towards it turned into alleyways and dead ends. I could see it, but not reach it so rather than keep trying I just checked into the Hotel Swastik Regency. Made it.
Day 2, today 48.9 km, avs 15.5 kph, todate 93.55 km