Thursday, February 16, 2012

Darjeeling River Picnic and an Earthquake

The Rungeet River

I plan to do more picnicking this year!  An inspiration was this picnic, one that sets the bar high!  The Rungeet River runs through the Glenburn Tea Estate and we traveled from ~3,000 feet to ~800 to picnic near the water's edge.  The water was high and rushing when we visited, but at other times it flows gently enough to wade across.  Should you have the pleasure to visit, bring along your spirit of adventure!  The trip to the river is full of magical vistas and heart-in-mouth 4x4 travel down the mountain (especially in monsoon season).  

The Glenburn Lodge

We gathered in the lodge, appreciating the screened-in open air, yet protected from the occasional drizzle.  We started with shandies and fresh-squeezed lemonade.  The picnic feast included barbequed pork and chicken, quiche, salad nicoise, chicken salad, foccacia bread, tomatoes, potato salad, and grilled banana for dessert. 
The feast

And of course, cups of Darjeeling tea!

Even the china matches the lush green

The return trip was surreal. The region experienced an earthquake; the epicenter was about 50 miles away in Sikkim.  We didn't feel the shaking, as we were in our own quaking 4x4 rides up the mountain.  As we entered a small village, we were met with general chaos as water gushed from a broken pipe.  Sanjay, the plantation manager, was driving the lead jeep (I was in this).  He stopped to assess the situation and learned of the quake.  We continued up the mountain (we were almost to the top), so that he could return and help with the water shutoff.  A few moments later, Sanjay received a phone call.  The 4x4 behind us could not pass the village, a landslide had occurred in the few short moments between our passing and theirs.  Sanjay dashed back to retrieve the others and then sped away again to ensure the villages were safe and to check the damages.  I was relieved to learn that no one was seriously injured on the plantation. 

Safely arrived back to the bungalows, we settled our still-trembling nerves with cups of tea.  At dinner that evening, as the generators provided electricity, the guests shared earthquake stories.  A bonding experience, a humbling reminder of the power of nature.  The quake wasn't giant in California standards (magnitude 6.9), yet it was quite impactful near the epicenter, a remote area with limited access to rescue equipment.  I went to bed that night with immense gratitude for our safety and prayers for the hard-hit areas. 


Lisa said...

Now THAT is my kind of a screened in porch! I can almost smell that cup of tea, too.

Scary about the earthquake, even if it wasn't that strong.

Ms. Ainee C. Beland said...

You are brave traveler, passion driven. Thank you for sharing.

amherstrose said...

Remembering our wonderful picnic by the river. A feast indeed! The earthquake was definitely an event that made me feel like we had been plopped down in the middle of an Indiana Jones movie. This trip was the adventure of a lifetime. Your posts continue to bring it all to life again. Our wonderful hosts at Glenburn did an amazing job of making sure we were all safe and the calming cups of darjeeling were just what we needed.

Angela McRae said...

An earthquake? Now that's a little too much adventure! That lodge is charming, the feast mouthwatering, and now I'm going to make some of that yummy Darjeeling Mary Jane sent me last week!

relevanttealeaf said...

What an action-packed experience! Thank Heavens for tea's calming and soothing capabilities!

Marlena said...

what wonderful adventures. I am sorry about the folks hit by the earthquake, though. Benoy Thapa from Thunderbolt teas was hit by it, but didn't get any damage although people close by did.

I tried the French butter radish bit and wow is that good!

Clleen said...

I too was on this adventure, in the 2nd jeep! My companions were all from the midwest and frightened beyond belief at word earthquake, though we weren't hurt and hadn't felt it. As a Californian from birth, I've grown up with earthquakes and don't get too worked up- but I'd call 6.9 significant! We just walked over and around the tree trunk, branches and rocks to the jeep on the other side and up to the bungalow for tea. Ahh tea is the soother of all that ails you. As amherstrose says, it is wonderful re-living these memories through your writing. All of Glenburn felt magical- the lodgings, food, tea, scenery and mist and gentle, war, rain.

Colleen said...

that previous last statement should have been '...and the gentle, warm rain.'

Marilyn Miller said...

What an adventure! That earthquake certainly added to it. But this picnic tea is memorable above all else. How wonderful!

Rosemary said...

Amazing picnic feast with an even more amazing ending to the day. Glad to read that everyone was safe.

ahnn said...

It's a great place you've been. I also love travelling around looking for a good place.

Darjeeling Tea