Engine on: 08:30
Engine off for the night: 16:30
KM travelled: 101
Issues/breakdowns: None (phewf, would've been tricky to deal with up here as no tuk tuks around)
Challenges: driving up the mountain road; Google maps sending us the wrong way on the worst steep and bumpy unsealed trail we've encountered the entire trip; navigating the one-way systems in Darjeeling; Hotel booking unsuccessful.
Oh, where to start in describing today! What was going to be a 72km drive which we knew would take us a few hours due to the gradient of the road ended up being 8 hrs and the challenges were totally not as we expected.
We had thought that the drive up to Darjeeling (approx 2000 mtr elevation gain) would be the toughest part but that actually ended up being the best part of the drive today with Elton making it up with no worries on the way. It took us about 3.5 hours to get up to Darjeeling, with several breaks to rest Elton's straining motor (we were mainly in 2nd or 1st gear on the steep uphill parts) and to take pictures of the gorgeous scenery. We noticed on the drive up that the people were much friendlier here as well, rather than the blank staring look we've largely had from onlookers throughout the journey so far, here we got big smiles and friendly waves! We determined that first, the locals were surprised to see an auto-rickshaw because the standard vehicle/ taxi vehicle in Darjeeling is a jeep and we actually saw zero other tuk tuks until 6pm when we saw three other teams on the run that had made it up here also. Secondly, the locals were surprised to see foreigners driving said tuktuk (but that's been the case right through india