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Welcome to Purnia!

A two hour flight from New Delhi to the south east brought the the team to Bagdogra Airport at Siliguri. Miss E managed to snap this shot of the snowcapped Himalayas to their north, even briefly spotting Mt Everest.

Siliguri is still in India yet only 20km from Bangladesh and Nepal, and around 100km from both Tibet and Bhutan. Coming from Australia, being so close to four other countries is quite mind-boggling.

Siliguri is in the Darjeerling district of West Bengal, an area famous for its tea plantations, which are very picturesque, in beautiful shades of vibrant green.

From Siliguri they were driven to Purnia, the home city of our friends. Much of the way was four lane highway which is mostly quite busy with traffic of all sorts.

Note the mobile phone towers in the background.

A town along the way where the highway no longer exists.

At last to their hotel in Purnia which was clean (although no hot water) and served good food. Purnia is a city of around 300,000 people in the northern Indian state of Bihar. Although coming into their winter, the daytime temperatures were around 27C/80F. Like much of India, their summers are very hot.

This is the view from Miss E's hotel window. Can you see the wild pig?

 Zoomed in on a pig at the same spot another day. "Were there many pigs?" I asked.
"Yes, quite a few, but there weren't as many pigs as street dogs and cows," she replied.

This is the view from the front of the hotel - note the internet cafe on the far left - which happened to be closed several days in a row due to a Hindu festival, then a Muslim festival. When open, the connection was unreliable and very slow. This helps explain the great lack of communication with home. One team member had a computer literally blow up in front of her.

On the first morning my husband decided to take a walk around the area. It was all so quiet due to the public holiday. Mostly this "street" was very busy and noisy with cars, bikes, pedal rickshaws and people continually passing through in both directions.

A nearby intersection, again everything is closed due to the holiday. My husband said he had a brief look in the jewellery shop on the left one day (green grills) and they had quality items for sale, including a pair of earrings for $1000 - no he didn't do any shopping there!

A land of surprises and great contrasts. To be continued.....

Sharing at Weekly Top Shot (although taken by my family, not me).

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