Monday 26 September 2016

Day 5 - Guwahati to Tezpur

I got up to a fresh morning in a big city and a busy market! Well, the market was yet to come into its form at around 8am. I had to move the bike to the side of the main road, as the shops adjacent to the Hotel would open in the next hour and the bike shouldn't be blocking their entrance. Those shop owners I had met when I arrived last night and they were kinda nice people. They told me to park the bike there, as they were closing for the day. I didn't want to bother them, so I got up a bit early and just moved the bike somewhere else. This is when I walked around the hotel a bit, to know the area better. It was actually a nice place in terms of liveliness, with the typical hustle and bustle of a busy touristy market.

This is where I had landed last night... Shops on both sides are yet to open, so I had to move my bike to public parking before that.. that is when this pic is shot :D

The morning I realized, the hotel isn't as dodgy as I thought. People were decent and the natural light coming into all floors was remarkable, considering its surrounded by buildings on all sides

In Sikkim, I had to do a lot of off-road stretches, standing up on the footpegs. During this, the knee armor sleeves were rubbing against my knees, which was getting a bit inconvenient over some time. Also if I had to continue with the remaining trip, (considering a lot of off-roading is ahead), I would have developed hotspots/bruises. So I came up with the idea to layer the knee-facing sides with a patch of cotton/Lycra (if available). Enquiring with the tailors nearby, all looked at the items as a hideous things and had no clue or interest in how to do, what I am asking. I must have checked at least 10 shops. I knew am not gonna buzz until I get this done. So after pestering a few oldies at the shops, they gave me the name of 'Badal', who may take up this work. But 'Badal' opens shop around 10-10:30. So I had to wait in my hotel and go back to the market again. Found the guy at last and others were right, he not only willingly took up the work, but he also did an excellent job at it. This whole thing took up half of my riding day, but it was necessary for me before putting myself and my bike on the road to Tawang.

I a hunt for a master tailor who can stand up to the challenge am gonna give.. lol

Mr. Badal; did an amazing job and got my knee protection sleeves padded!

What else to do standing in that lane and watching people watch me sweat like I came from outer space... 

From the tailor's shop walking back towards the hotel.

So this is how it looked. Now it won't scuff my knees during off-road riding. 

The road to Guwahati had given me confidence and assurance that, till Tezpur, I can expect the same or similar roads. So even though it was already past 11am, I was kinda cool with starting late. After all, it was just 190-200 KMs away, not gonna take that much time for me. Once I was ready and all set by around 12 to roll, I just opened up the permits to go through the details and maybe take a few pictures as a backup. That's when I got a surprise. The permit for Tawang expired yesterday. My initial understanding was, the permits would be for 15 days at least, so I request my friend on the 1st to get them done. But this one was only for 7 days and expired on the 7th of September. Rats!! 

The surprise of the day !! 

My itinerary just got updated with a new task of getting the permit renewed/updated for the next 7 days, assuming that would suffice for my planned days of travel. As Krish was somewhere in Nagaland on a personal trip, I couldn't reach him for help. So I enquired and landed up in the concerned office. The ride from the hotel to the Dy Commissioner's Office was horrible. This was my first day in Guwahati, I was sweating profusely (having come from a colder place just a day before), and add to it, I was on one of the busiest roads during the peak hours. Man, traffic can kill you, forget about the dangerous mountain roads. I was freakin dehydrated and was out of water or a shade on that main road to take a break. Somehow I made it to the office hoping for some quick action. But nope, it wasn't my day! The man at the counter was a snob and the lady next to him, well forget it. Just know that they were not courteous to the visitors. Got to know that there is no renewal of this permit and I have to apply again by filling up a form. Sigh! The humidity and dehydration were troubling me more than the formalities. Anyhow I filled out the form and got the necessary photocopies of id proof and 2 photographs I was carrying. I was told to come back at 4pm. Told you it was not my day. So walked outside the office thinking about where to wait for the next 2 hours.

This was a place I was not supposed to visit, had everything worked out as planned. But I am glad that I did, and learned about the process of getting ILP :) 

There was this shop next to the office, attended by this kind gentleman named Partha. He offered me a seat in his shop with a ceiling fan above, it was heaven for me at that time. I sipped on a bunch of litchi juice from the freezer, and while at it, learned about the routes ahead and a few other pieces of information from him. All this conversation just lead me to discover that he too rides and has a RE Desert Storm. As I had some time in hand, he suggested getting my bike checked at a RE showroom nearby. Wasn't a bad idea I thought, given that I had nothing else to do while I wait for the permit to be ready. So I kept my luggage at Partha da's shop and headed to the RE showroom. Rest all is in the pictures.

Partha da, who gave me a place to rest and relax... Being an Enfield rider, it was good to spend time with him chatting about the place than sitting in that boring 'Resident Commissioner Office'.

Interesting mods on bullets I came across outside the RE workshop on VIP road

Mechs diligently working on customer bikes

The rear wheel has been taken out for inspection. One of the hub bearings had a slight play, so had to be sorted out in the quickest way possible... 

Got the new permit. Yay !!! Tawang, see you soon! :)

Finally! I couldn't just let a day pass by without me riding. So started off towards Tezpur at around 6pm. A night ride through Assam, was on the menu tonight :)

A beautiful sunset in the rearview mirror.

Tezpur route was fine up until Nagaon, from there I left the 4-lane road behind and got onto a single-lane, two-way road. That got me into the game called "Watch out for that pothole". Damn! that road shook me and my bike. Imagine a tar road full of potholes, which are virtually invisible at night due to the dark color of the wet tar. No matter how bright the headlights are, they didn't help me from filtering through. The same was the case with other passenger cars traveling alongside. I finally decided to trail a Fiat Punto, who seems to be a local. He too had a hit-and-miss with the large ones, at least I got a few seconds heads up before every big ditch that was coming up. This went on for the next 60-odd KMs before I reached Tezpur. Didn't have the guts to torture my bike anymore by riding at night on such a road. So decided to call it a day. Found a hotel there, no problems at all. There were no single bedrooms available, so ended up with a two-bed room. The bed I used for spreading around my stuff. From tomorrow starts the climb up to Tawang and I wanted every necessary thing to be handy and charged. I wasn't tired at all today but had to stop because of the road condition and nighttime was making it difficult to ride without hitting the suspension on those ditches. So all in all, I was able to keep up with the itinerary (or at least close to it) by making it to Tezpur by the 8th. 

With all the heat, humidity, and dehydration, I was craving the cool mountains and rain again.

"Tomorrow is another day!" or so I believed :)


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