Sunday 25 September 2016

Day 1 - Siliguri ( Layover )

There is nothing spectacular about the morning today, to write about, other than the fact that I was eagerly waiting to see my bike and be on the road. Ah the thought itself gets me in a good mood. Even though I was desperately waiting for a miracle to happen, I was somewhat certain (after the chat with people), that it was highly unlikely for the freight truck to reach NJP from Kolkata in 1 day. Sigh! After having that bit of anxiety out of my system, I had the whole day to myself, either to relax in the hotel room or step out. I started off by having a glance through TripAdvisor for places nearby. After scrolling through a few stereotypical touristy locations, the 'Coronation Bridge' caught my attention. So there I was, up and ready with the purpose of visiting the 'Coronation Bridge'. On that otherwise supposedly boring day, this choice was like a trumpet call. Visualize this.

 Now I got a pedal rickshaw till the Sevoke square and was hoping to catch sumo (or any other 7 seater/people carrier) till the bridge. There was another surprise there. When the bookie (a guy who does booking for Sumos to various locations) quoted me 1200 bucks or so, for an exclusive pick and drop till the bridge. Jeez!! He didn't even discuss the option of sharing a vehicle going that way. Not sure if it was my (outsider) appearance or just plain dumb luck, that I get such deals. Anyway, I walked away without a second word and asked around for buses. No wonder there were many buses (both state transport and private) going that way. Basically, all buses going to Kalimpong, have to go past the 'Coronation Bridge'. Hopped onto one empty bus with 3-4 passengers and merrily headed my way to Sevoke bridge. This place was roughly 25 km away from the town. "Ticket fare?", you may ask. It was around 20 bucks. Go figure!!!  Being a Bangalorean for more than a decade, this is the kind of happiness I always (secretly) craved for. Even a 50% sale on our favorite product won't match the feeling I was getting after hearing the ticket price. I am sure, my co-passengers must be wondering about the sudden rise in my excitement. You may follow along now, with a few images I shot during the day.
A good start in the morning looked something like this.

Considering the drug trafficking that happens on the borders of this region, it's an important reminder for the locals! Good message!

Shaktiman. No, this truck model is actually named 'Shaktiman' and can be seen plenty in north-eastern states (especially in Manipur)

A railway crossing on the way to the bridge

Except for very few potholes, the road to Sevoke was splendid by any means

Coronation Bridge / Sevoke Bridge / Baagh Pull (local language)

There is a 'Baagh' (Tiger) in the right-hand corner, welcoming visitors onto the bridge (towards the right)

Teesta River is flowing through the mountains.

A beautiful active frame that caught my eye, while over the bridge

Interesting rock formation on the river bank.

Another 'Baagh' (Tiger) at the other side of the bridge

One of the many small falls around the bridge

A view from the seats of the cycle/pedal rickshaw. Indeed a hard life for the puller, so I prefer them over autos when possible and tip as I feel necessary.

I took a long walk crossing the bridge to the other side and enjoyed the view of the river and the lush green (due to the rains) path that eventually goes towards Guwahati (Assam). In a few days, I will be coming this way on my bike, so it was fun to simulate how it would feel to ride these corners on the bike. Crazy stuff every rider does if you ask me. Finally, when done, I came back to the starting point of the bridge until I got a bus back to Siliguri, which was around 25 km. There were no seats left, and I was happy to sit on a box kept in the aisle, facing the passengers. With a camera in hand, black tee, and sunglasses swung up on my head, I was screaming 'tourist' but my choice of seat was making people confused I could feel. They had a good time staring at me all the way. Some of them approached to ask about my visit and plans. Few working-class people were shaking their heads in denial, "no way! why would a working person ride a motorcycle here in the north east, all by himself?!?". "Don't you feel scared, this place is not safe", said one uncle. I was like, "yeah yeah I know.. I will try and be safe!". Not sure if that was convincing or funny, cause he was smiling the rest of the way until finally, I got down to my stop at Siliguri. There were few other places worth a visit, but I wanted to chill and rather spend my energy riding than walking around. So come back to the hotel room. Later in the evening, I just stepped out to enjoy the light drizzle and enquire about the opening hours of the petrol bunks. I would need petrol in the morning, in case the Bike arrives in the morning. Just wanted to avoid any further delays from the moment, I received my much-beloved machine :D In case that makes sense to you.

'Chai' is the ingredient for a good lazy evening, and goes well with a relaxed stroll on the streets of Siliguri. If you still want more, ask for a light drizzle :)

Another day in the life of a motorcycle rider, on a motorcycle trip, without a motorcycle. LOL

Until tomorrow... 


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