Tuesday 20 September 2016

Solo Motorcycle Ride through North-East India

I got back to Bangalore on Sunday (the day before yesterday) night and re-joined my work from Monday (yesterday). Right now, the last thing I feel like doing is writing a blog post. However, if not now, I highly doubt, I will be able to put this travelogue together. Also, there are some travelers and friends who are eagerly waiting for this post and the pictures of this trip. Let me make this clear, it was hectic this time for many reasons. To start with, the challenge is to ride so many states in such a short time, especially given the fact, that they are not on the planes (with the exception of Assam), nor there is much information about them to do an optimal routing beforehand. Apart from all this, I decided to go for it, just 2 weeks before the starting day. Well now all that is in the past, and here I am back to base safely after being able to ride through the least explored and quite challenging part of India; the northeast. 

Now the term 'north-east' is used to demarcate a set of 8 states (7 sisters with the addition of newborn Sikkim, the 8th sibling). For starters, each of the 8 states is so diverse in its own culture and heritage, that it's not actually logical to tag them together. However historically, they all were part of a common kingdom called 'Assam' (which is now one of the central states). Post-independence, parts of the land received their statehood and as it stands now, there are 8 states: Sikkim, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura & Meghalaya.

Again, had it not been for our neighboring country of Bangladesh (the white space on the right-hand side of West Bengal in the image below), these 8 states would be closely associated with the mainland of India. Having a glance at the following map would make this clear.

As can be seen here, the gateway to the northeast of India is only through the state of West Bengal. So based on the time at hand, I wanted to spend the most time in the northeast region. So instead of Kolkata (which would've been logistically more accessible from Bangalore), I decided to start my journey from Siliguri. A town close to the north border of West Bengal, hence fairly close to Sikkim. The first state of the 8, I wish to visit. I shipped the motorcycle to Siliguri (NJP) and fly to the nearest airport named 'Bagdogra'. Considering the time invested in planning and the lack of information about this part of our country, many things could have gone wrong. Thankfully nothing major came my way, and I could successfully accomplish what I went there for. To Ride! Anything I did apart from riding from place to place is to soak in the view, met local people on the way, learned a thing or two about the situation there and when got time took pictures. Traveling is a personal thing and each of us like something or other in terms of activities. Don't fall into the trap of following other travelers blindly, as that may not give you the satisfaction and fulfillment you are looking for out of your travels. For example, I am not a foodie, so I do not (usually) experiment (notice the selection of words here!) with my daily intake during motorcycle trips. I eat things I find safe to eat. This also means I avoid experimenting with food during rides, as I may risk my fitness/health to ride the motorcycle, just in case something causes any stomach problems or worse. So in terms of traveling goals, to each their own. Having said that, I do try many things during my backpacking trips to places however, such trips have reduced giving me more time to ride. So feel free to disagree with me on this, and I totally get that. You are as unique an individual as me and hence bound to have a unique taste in things and that's totally cool! Now coming back to what I DO like, is visual things. Geographical terrains, nature, houses/huts, people's appearances, dress, and a sense of adventure! Riding through diverse terrains, just excites me as a rider, who is eager to learn new skills and improvise. Not sure, but maybe these are just prepping me for my around-the-world trip ;) Did I just say that out loud?!! lol

 Ever since I returned from my Ladakh trip back in 2014, 2 things were very clear in my mind:

1. No more groups (it wasn't fun anymore to deal with wannabes with attitude)

2. Off-road is what scares me (so I gotta do it more :D)

Last 2 years, I believe, that my thinking and attitude towards riding got shaped based on the above realizations and I knew, I wanted to ride solo for my next big trip. Challenges, risks, and required effort are much higher in riding solo, but then again the learnings are also in equal measure. I can't just pass on that opportunity. So I jumped the gun and decided to do this trip solo. Honestly speaking, there was not a moment during this trip, I regretted my decision. Now, this doesn't mean I wouldn't ride with friends anymore, it just means I am free to choose my company now:)

So the thoughts behind this trip are out of the way, here is the break up of my preparation and journey.

Day 6 - Tezpur - Bomdi-La *Arunachal Pradesh*

will try and write the posts for each day as and when I get time. I want to thank you (the reader) in advance for your patience and interest in this series. I suggest, subscribing to bookmark this index post for this ride so that you get to visit it with a simple click. How cool is that! ;)

Meanwhile, for any urgent queries (just because some of you might be the impatient kind, just like me), leave them in the comments and I shall get back to you at the earliest possible (in a day or two at max).



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