Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Day 15 - Guwahati to Bangalore

If you are still around and have been following my journey through the daily posts here, then there is a chance that you would be able to relate to my feelings for this day. Read on..

As the alarm went off on my phone, I just opened (rather tried to) open my eyes, while still being in bed. The noise of an already awakened city wasn't something I could have missed, as I was staying in a budget hotel, right next to the railway station. So with the half opened drowsy eyes, I just skimmed through the room. While doing that I spotted few items en route; my good'ol dusty riding jacket, hanging by the door, the trusty helmet lying on the table. Finally when I got present of my thoughts at that moment, there was no sense of my itinerary today, which has been shaping my days ever since I rolled the throttle a fortnight ago. To be honest, this realization was a bit unsettling for first few seconds, as I was coming to terms with the fact that, this trip has finally ended. There is no more new place to explore, there is no more possibility of experiencing something amazing during the day or meeting new people in unexpected ways. This was a bit hard to accept. But then I convinced myself of the interesting stuff next on my (never ending) to-do list, which was waiting at home. I also thought about my family and few friends eagerly waiting to hear from me. Once home, I had so many images to vet from the camera  and the experiences to re-live. Honestly, all this self-talk gave me the much-needed motivation to get up from the bed and get on with this day of transition.

The best part of doing all packing the night before, is to have the day only to execute tasks and not waste time on anything else. I took a shower and slipped into a comfy pair of shorts and a tee and the pair of brand new slippers:) "Boots, I will miss you until our next adventure!!!", is what I uttered in the silence of the room, before putting them into the bag, along with all other motorcycling gear already stuffed inside the night before.

My Bull had to be seen off at the railway station, for its journey to Bangalore. Sadly, we won't be traveling together on this one. However, I will be eagerly waiting there, to receive it once it arrives, and bring it home.

I rode the motorcycle along with the luggage all the way on to the platform, right in front of the parcel office. Waiting for the packing guys...

So after haggling a bit, finally could get this bunch to pack my motorcycle and luggage...

Headlight being wrapped up with a sheet of cardboard and some more cushion to keep the front headlight doom safe, during the transit..

Looks like its almost ready for the train journey..

Once parcel booking is done, the booking id and shipping details are marked on the packages (both motorcycle and the box carrying the remaining stuff).

Once all done, I had a flight to catch as well. As I was heading back to my life in the city, I could feel the presence of a new found enthusiasm for life and a whole lot of experience about the least explored part of this beautiful country. I knew I had to catch up some sleep during this long 3 hours flight. As I certainly won't have enough after my arrival at home, to be ready for a usual work day on Monday.

The return flight home.. :)

While sitting at the Guwahati airport and waiting for the boarding, I was just thinking.. When you are in the zone doing what you love, time flies by so fast. There was a time, I used to lose track of minutes spent on riding my motorcycle off few blocks and now its been more than two weeks since, I left home and it feels like, as if it was just yesterday, that I was tying my luggage to the bike for an epic adventure. Now as I look back, except for few key moments, rest all were just a blur. In case some people don't realize this, rides, vacations or for that matter any form of break from a routine, are meant to do more than just relax your soothing nerves. For me personally, when I am pursuing my passion for riding, I am actually at the purest state of mind, without any need for societal rules, expectations and judgment to be and feel the way I am. No adulteration, whatsoever. This gives me the perfect opportunity to have a look at my life and assess, if what I am doing in different areas of life are worth it, or should there be a change. For the first five years of my work life I have been busy as hell and earned the so called money and reputation that I desired. Now still I do appreciate those, but I realized something; that these are too shallow to be set as the goals of life. There should be something more, there has to be. Its for me to find out if it exists or else I need to create it. A trip alone may not be enough to figure out the whole vision for life, but it surely brings me the clarity and courage to take the next set of actions, that I need to take. At least this has helped me escape a mediocre life so far. And I hope some (if not many) of you have experienced the same.

With that, I conclude this travelogue and hope it stays here to inspire me for my future endeavors as well as for you to come back to, when you need a dose of adventure in your daily lives.



Ride Safe & Ride Far,

Sid

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Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Day 14 - Mawlynnong to Guwahati

The night wasn't that long but gave me enough rest for fully living up to today's plan :) I think the amount of sleep required in a particular night, to feel fresh is directly proportional to the excitement for the upcoming day. There you go. We got a clean and simple formula now :D lol. So following the same logic train, I woke up with a lot of joy and excitement for what possibilities the day may bring. Morning was extra shiny and trees looked greener than all other days. No kidding! Thanks to my host, I got a cup of tea while I was setting up my luggage on the motorcycle.

Rommel's steed on the left and mine on the right. It may be hard to believe, but both the bulls in the photograph are exactly the same models, when they came out of the showroom :D Now both have a personality of their own !!!

Daniel was an early bird and I asked him to join us (me and the bull) for a pic.

If you sit down with a rider and individual like Daniel, its hard to leave the conversation, as the man has explored so much of India and especially north-east, one can learn a lot from his experience. But this time I decided to save our chat for our future meetings and start my ride early instead. Hopefully I will get to catch up with him again.

Now here is a quick info on 'Living Root Bridges' found on this belt of Meghalaya. 'Root Bridge' is basically a bridge over a water stream (mostly river) made out of living tree roots. Now why its so special and worth a visit is, even if you want now, you can't make one yourself. Because roots takes decades to grow and the effort and time involved to interweave them to form such a structure would take half a generation. So basically few of such bridges are in existence in Meghalaya; one being in Mawlynnong and two are in Cherrapunji. Cherrapunji has a double decker one as well. However due to it being a popular tourist destination, such spots are expected to be crowded. In which case it may not be a good idea to leave the luggage on the motorcycle and walk up to the bridge. Instead Mawlynnong was a  much quieter place with less visitors (at the time of my stay), hence much safer to leave the bike and saddle bags unattended at the parking area. So I decided to stop over and have a look at the 'Living Root Bridge' here at Mawlynnong itself. After parking the motorcycle I had to walk down for around 200 meters, which included 50-60 steps, after which the stream/river was visible and so was the the bridge. And guess what, to my utter surprise, I wasn't the first one to arrive this morning. It was the TV crew again. So as I got to know from the crew, Gul and her friend (co-host) Swaty, are shooting for a new show named 'Off-Roading with Gul Panag', to be aired on Discovery channel. Damn!! Well at this point the good news was; I will finally get to catch up with her and the not so good news was; I would have to wait until the shot (an arial footage using drone. Top stuff!!) is over. Until then even I can't take any photographs of the bridge as the vantage points I identified, were taken up by the drone pilot and the director.

Meanwhile here is a close up of the root structure..

Shoot just getting over.. Gul and Swaty getting off the bridge..

So she wrapped up and I just approached her to have a chat. It was so nice to find out that she was as enthusiastic as I had assumed, from her love for travelling and motorcycles. She told that she was expecting her new bike (a Triumph T100) to arrived in sometime and was pretty excited about it. Also got to know she has the same motorcycle (a cast iron 350) as mine :) See we got so much in common:D Good feeling eh ?!! After a bit of chit chat, I decided to move on, as I might be holding up their shooting schedule and I too had some miles to cover and places to go. It was nice of Swaty, she took our picture together with my cam and a few with my phone. In case you are reading this, "Thank you so much Swaty" :)

Though I would have preferred to look cleaner, groomed and fresh for this photo with her, but.. nevermind! That wouldn't have helped much anyway, considering she was looking so gorgeous ;) Once you could take your eyes off her, do check out the 'Living Root Bridge' to the right (remember what we came here for :P). N btw those two cute pups also travel with her :) #luckypups

With all that butterflies in my stomach (after meeting my all time crush), I had to climb *UP* those 50 odd steps, carrying the camera bag, helmet and wearing the riding gear. Whew!! Reached my bike drenched in sweat, and all this before I even started riding for today. But thanks to the cooler weather in Meghalaya, with the zip on the jacket left open, a few hundred meters of riding and I was crisp as a biscuit! lol thats the thing coming to my mind right now, as  I am sitting here in my room, writing this post and waiting for the dinner to be ready:D So with a heart filled with gratitude (for many reasons), I continued my journey towards my next destination: Cherrapunji.

Land's End... it looked like that. Only clouds on the other side.

Meghalaya got me mesmerised. #InLoveAgain

Today being possibly my last day of touring, and I was right on schedule for my flight and everything. So I had enough time in hand to take breaks and enjoy the beauty around..

And I wasn't disappointed at all :)

This is shot around 10:30 in the morning, and this stretch had such dense fog that I had to slow down quite a bit and eventually decided to stop.

Standing still, the visibility was up to 10 feet at the maximum, and while riding, that distance gets covered in 2-3 seconds. So while riding in fog, its a good practice to slow down to a safe speed, which gives us time to respond, in case an oncoming vehicle appears suddenly.

Bull needed some attention and admiration as well.. for joining me in exploring all these exotic location, across the country :) #ILoveMyMotorcycle

Ladies and gentlemen, what you are staring at right now is the magical Nohsngithiang Falls (good luck pronouncing that!) or also commonly known as Seven Sister Waterfall. It was amazing!!!

That's a viewpoint on the left, where cellphone batteries were draining out like the used bullet shells from a gatling gun, due to the excessive front camera action, commonly known as 'Selfies'. Girls were going crazy in that corner for a pic, but I found the view from here much better to capture it's beauty.

I took a detour to see the "NohKaLikai Falls" (if you pronounced it correctly in the first attempt, you sir..are a Winner! lol), but dense fog was blocking the view and tourists had waited hours for a glimpse. For me the broken road till the fall was really interesting and the view was equally breathtaking. It reminded me of my road trip in Scotland. Back then I didn't had a clue, that India has so much to offer in terms of natural beauty. Now I know for sure :)

All this time, I was roaming in Cherrapunji, which once used to be (and still a contender for) the place in India with highest rainfall. But I was all dry when I reached there and the weather was awesome. But there this itch, to witness rain in Cherrapunji, which made me to enquire around on the status of rain today. Answers were a bit disappointing, that monsoon in this part is over so there is no much rain, but, this being north-east, you can't be sure. That last line was like a silver lining among the dark clouds or wait! it was like a patch of dark cloud in the clear silvery sky :P Lol. I loved the place so much, I pulled over at a road side cafe to snack on some paranthas and enjoy the place with a cup of coffee. Then hopped on my dark horse and rolled around the mountains. Thats when Cherrapunji made its presence felt and clouds gathered all around.

When you need rain, just ask for it... Behind me you can see the clouds forming and it rained in no time :) Mission accomplished; I got to witness rain in Cherrapunji.

I had some time in hand to visit Shillong, so I headed towards the city, which was around 50 odd kilometers from Cherrapunji. As I got closer to Shillong, I got a sense of the traffic situation inside. Just like any other city in India, this one too wasn't that different when it comes to swarming traffic. I just hate that. I would rather fly down to Shillong if at all I want to visit, but with motorcycle, that was not getting any of my interest. So I decided to take the by-pass and skip the busy roads and head towards Guwahati.

During the time I was roaming in Meghalaya, I got few updates from friends that due to some festivals, freight/shipping facilities may remain closed in Guwahati for these two days. That was a shocker. I made few phone calls to the agency staff in Siliguri and got some contacts in Guwahati. After some enquiry, I decided on going with Indian Railway Parcel Service. It was certainly cheaper, safer (less damage in train than a truck) and looked reliable considering, railway services will be operational today and tomorrow. I needed someone to enquire in person at the Guwahati Railway station. So I called up few friend's friends who live in Guwahati and finally got a much required assistance from Santunu (one of my batchmates' friend). He was out of town when I called, but he enquired and confirmed that railway services are functional and I can get the job done when I arrive in the city. Santunu, if you are reading this, I wanted to say "Thanks a lot mate! You were of great help to me on this day!!".

So by the time I was doing these enquiry, I was just outside Shillong and I planned to make it to Guwahati by evening. It wasn't an issue, as the roads were awesome and it was just 100 kms away.

En route to Guwahati from Shillong...

My north-east trip started with heavy rain which went on for 4-5 days... how could it end without it :) There was this heavy (I mean HEAVY) downpour when I was close to the city. I had nothing but time at this point, so decided to stop at a shed and just enjoy the pitter-patter of raindrops, as long as I could.. Later got joined by few other travellers, who saw the bike and as you can guess, a conversation started :)

After enjoying my last shower of the north-eastern rain, I decided to ride (in the rain) and continue towards the city. I reached the city around 7 in the evening and straight away went to the main railway station. There I found a guy who works as an agent at the railway station and I negotiated a deal with him to get the whole process done as quick as possible... once I brought the bike in the next morning. So with all that set, I had to spend the night there and get the parcel work done for the motorcycle and my luggage.

Bull, after the completion of one of the most epic solo trips, resting at the hotel parking. It had a long train trip coming up after all..

Compared to all my previous days of riding in this trip, today's ride was most relaxed and I highly needed it actually. I had to join work immediately after my arrival in Bangalore, i.e. no rest day. So I wanted to catch up on all my sleep before reaching there. It was easier said than done. After settling the matter of motorcycle shipping, I went out for a stroll in Guwahati. Tried out some street food (now I had no worries ;) ) and I was enjoying all the hustle bustle of a busy city after all these days of riding in the mountains and some of the completely isolated parts of this region.

Busy streets of Guwahati..

Before going to bed I had to do my packing for the flight tomorrow. Remaining all other riding gear, tools and stuff had to go along with the motorcycle. Camera and electronics were to come with me, as there was a possibility of these getting damaged when the cartons are loaded/unloaded onto/off (read thrown around) the train. So once all set, I dozed off with an alarm set for 9:30.


Until tomorrow..


Ride Safe & Ride Far,

Sid

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Monday, 14 November 2016

Day 13 - Badarpur to Mawlynnong

The fatigue from yesterday's riding, mixed with the smell of diesel smoke from the large Honda generator, kept just outside the room, ensured that I woke up fresh like a flower(pun intended). All these days of nomadic lifestyle, meant it wasn't such an inconvenience for me, considering I was dealing with way more dust, smoke and stuff at certain patches on the way. So it was all ok. But coming to personal hygiene, I badly needed a scrub to get rid of the sweat coat that I had put on through out the hot and humid weather riding. Facility in this lodge was that of a common bathroom on each floor. I could only hope guys don't mind a dude walking around in a towel in the corridor and hopefully there are no girls (or families) in the building to mind either :P Took a quick peek through the door and the course was clear all the way till the end of corridor which leads me to the common bathroom. About when I was locking the door of my room, the front desk guy shows up out of nowhere with two other guys and I was blocking their way in the corridor. His smile I always found a bit fake and totally made up one. Since the time I arrived, he had been extra nice to me, but somehow I couldn't put up with his fakeness, so I hardly entertained him during this whole time. Now its the same fake expression right on my face. I was bit annoyed and snapped "what ??". "Sir kuchh nahin thoda inko aapka wala room dikhana tha. *fake smile again*". I was like, "oh thik hai..", and I had to unlock the door and stand their in a towel for the time they endlessly stared into the room. These two guys were inspecting the room, as if they were trying to locate the jacuzzi inside. Once they were done staring at the room and left, I was on my way for shower, without a second stop anywhere in between. After seeing the size of the rooms, I really had set my expectations on the bathroom really low and glad to report, I was not disappointed. It was a make-do kinda bathroom with a bucket and mug, and a tap whose knob had only two settings; off or Tsunami. LOL. I saw the later one for little longer than I wanted, before realising there is nothing in between. Well... kind of a reverse shower it was :D

As it was getting close to 8:30 in the morning, the starting time of business for the lodge, I had to move my motorcycle out of the reception area. Yep, thanks to the Manager, thats where I was allowed to parked it last night. Now to avoid multiple visits downstairs, I got ready on time and went downstairs with all my luggage to check-out.

For motorcyclists, priorities are clear; 1-bike stays safe 2-rider can manage ;)

Everything I saw on my way this day, came as a clear contrast to my day before. That had set the bar real high really :D

After riding through the lengths of 5 different states of north-east, I didn't really knew, what to expect from Meghalaya. Well... it didn't take me long to figure it out :)

The kind of trees/woods seen in the background was totally unique and I hadn't such on my way through all other places..

No matter how much I wished these to be some alien hideouts, they were not.  These small tunnels were result of some extraction (possibly for sand, as the scale of the work wasn't that large in this patch).

The twisties up here stole my heart. Man!!! It was so awesome to ride here, as if the nature had saved the best for the last, in this trip :)

If I get a chance I would love to shoot a motorcycle video clip right on this stretch.. I had a helmet cam on, but that didn't cut it.

River Dawki; A beautiful sight with a hidden surprise ;)

So I finally made it to Dawki River, which was supposed to be one of the highlights of this trip. But much to my bad luck, all I saw was a usual river (it offers a beautiful sight though) and no sign of crystal clear water. Upon enquiring with the guides standing close by, got to know its in January sometime, the mud in the water settles and the water appears crystal clear. Sigh! I was about to leave the spot, when I noticed this crowd on the river bank. It seemed like there is some fair happening on the other side with lot of colourful umbrellas and quite many people enjoying the in the river. So I asked a guy standing close by:

Me: "Aaj koi festival chal raha hai kya ? Itne saare log ikattha huye hain us side pe?!!" 
(Is there a festival today?)
(Looks like a big gathering on the other side ?!!). 

Bystander: "Woh log Bangladeshi hain" 
(They are Bangladeshis.)

Me: "Achha, ghumne ayen hai, India..?!!" 
(So they have come for a visit..?!!)

Bystander: "Woh side Bangladesh hai." 
(That side is Bangladesh.)

Me: Silent with dropped jaw: "Kya ?? (pointing towards the ground I was standing) Yeh bhi ??" 
(What ? This too??)

Bystander: "Nahin, yeh toh India hai, river ka dusra side Bangladesh hai." 
(No, this side is India, its the other side of the river, comes under Bangladesh.)

Unbelievable!!! This was beyond my imagination that a country border may look like this. I looked around and could spot a BSF security guard appointed on our side of the shore. Mostly no-one tries to cross the border from here (as there are hundreds of kilometers of porous border we share with them). However it seems they are always curious to view India, and hence the crowd on the other side. It was a funny feeling to know, if I just walk across the river, I would be crossing a national border :P Zoom in the below picture to spot the border security guard and the proximity of the two countries.

Two countries: India & Bangladesh, in the same frame :)

En route to Mawlynnong

Reminded me of the days I spent riding in Sikkim, beautiful waterfall :)

So I rode quite a bit to reach here and 7 out of 10 people I enquired with on the way, didn't had a clue about this place. That should tell you about the touristy awareness of this particular place. Having said that, with increase in coverage (by tv shows, blogs, etc), it won't be long before you have to deal with a bee-line of vehicles in order to make it here. All I could hope is the government of Meghalaya, takes care, to retain the natural beauty of this place and restrict possible noise and air pollution due to increase in visitor vehicles.

Having said that, one interesting thing happened as I reached the village. First when I stopped near the living root bridge (more on this in tomorrow's post ;) ), one of the cab drivers standing close by, approached me. He was a humble chap and seemed quite knowledgeable about the area (possibly due to his job of carrying tourists around the state). While we were chatting, he mentioned there is another bullet (for me it meant a solo rider) with Karnataka license plate is around. That was interesting to know, as I was not alone now and being from KA means, high chances he would be from Bangalore. So I had to meet up with this dude. Solo travellers are a rare breed you know:). Before parting, I enquired and got some more details from this guy about Meghalaya and the places I was planning to visit in the coming days. Then I resumed my journey towards Mawlynnong village, while also keeping an eye (rather an ear! lol) for the other bullet. So after 2-3 kms of riding finally I came across few home-stays which meant I have reached the village of Mawlynnong. The whole route from Dawki till here was almost isolated and I hardly came across much people or vehicles on the way. So it was nice to finally get a sense of civilization, especially after riding through seemingly endless twists and turns through that narrow tar road.

So I finally made it to Mawlynnong :) No phone signal, no noise of city/vehicles, no crowd, just peaceful nature !!!

I was aimlessly puttering around on the bike, reading all the home-stay sign boards and possibly to end up choosing one for the night stay. This moment of wandering bliss didn't last long, when after a turn, I suddenly came across this crew shooting for a movie (I thought) and they were in the middle of the road. Much to my annoyance, the director (I guess) was freaked out with my entry (so to speak..lol) and was waving his hand madly for me to move aside. To be honest, I was a bit pissed with his gesture, as a vehicle has right of way on a road and just because you are shooting doesn't entitle you to push aside someone driving/riding. Ideally they should have appointed someone few hundred meters from the shooting spot to watch for any incoming vehicle, instead of shouting at unsuspecting people passing that way. Anyway, before I could respond to him, someone caught my attention and I totally forgot all this (inconvenience). There were these two pretty looking girls and the one close to left side of the road looked quite familiar. Given the fact that I don't watch tv (or Hindi movies) on a regular basis, and its been almost 11 years, you could make out the strange feeling of finding a tv/movie personality familiar. Well it was none other than the ever beautiful; Gul Panag. To be honest, he had been my crush for a long long time and more so because of her passion for motorcycles. Crazy isn't it, that I had to come across her, in he middle of nowhere, when I am doing a solo motorcycle trip. Anyway, without disturbing the crew anymore, I gave a big smile (kinda like saying,"Heyyyyy! I know you!!!". lol) to her and rolled down the street continuing my search. I think she said "sorry about that..", or something like that when we exchanged smiles as I passed by. 

After some 100 meters or so, I enquired from a lady standing on the side of the road, if she has seen/heard another bullet and the answer was "yes. Please come this way, I will take you there". I followed her into one of the home-stays, where I could see an old Enfield parked. It didn't take me long to find out the guy and also I got a place in that home-stay after a bit of negotiation with the owner. So I was all set for the evening and was looking forward to hear some travel stories from another fellow traveler. And I wasn't disappointed with that. Rommel, had tons of stories and got to know that he also runs a travel site.

This was another home-stay next to ours.. with a view of Bangladesh.

Available cell phone networks at the home-stay.. Only Bangladesh towers close by..

That night after dinner, we got accompanied by two other interesting people Daniel and David, from Meghalaya and Nagaland respectively. Daniel runs tours and rides a customised Enfield Thunderbird. He was with some clients (tourist group), as he runs tours across Meghalaya. David was from Nagaland, and this fact alone, got me to interview him for half hour on the possibility of backpacking there sometime in future. lol. No wonder our group discussion went on till 1am in the morning. That's when I realised, I had to wake up early :P So we had to abruptly break the meeting and head to our shacks. Rommel had planned for a chilled out day, so he probably would have slept till late. So I bid farewell to him, as I may not see him in the morning when I leave.

It was the first time I was socializing with some like minded people and it came at the right time, after I had dealt with the uncertain segments of north-east trip and finally was getting to relax and take it easy. Meghalaya was one of the safest and tourist friendly states out of all and so was Sikkim. Tomorrow was possibly the penultimate day of my ride or so I had planned. This long evening with the new friends group extended well into my bed time, but knowing Meghalaya roads (through today's observations), I had very less to worry about. So I just got into bed and dozed off, with an alarm set for 6 o'clock.


Until tomorrow..


Ride Safe & Ride Far,
Sid

View the Index page of this travelogue

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Day 12 - Nungba to Badarpur

This is what I woke up to after a crazy night halt in Manipur. Those are my boots and kid (slept on the bed visible to left) has gone off to brush his teeth and once he comes back, I was planning to step out. There is still mist outside, as can be seen in the image below. 

The rickety shack which safely sheltered me from the cold night in a not so safe location..

I got tons of mist for few more hours as I was riding ahead of Nungba.. But the road got better and the morning freshness was infectious :) Just see for yourself!


Nature at its best... This was the view which got me so ecstatic that I totally ignored the warnings I had been receiving all along about the road ahead..


As fate had it, I had to face this day and this road, which will become one of the most challenging, yet memorable part of this whole trip.. no kidding!


Last of the photographs taken, and camera was the last thing on my mind, once I daringly put the front wheel into this muddy patch!

Boy oh boy! Everyone I spoke with told me not to go on this route (to reach Assam) as its really bad. Well.. I thought to myself, "I have crossed half of the north-east India and have seen some of the tough roads so far. What could be worse than something I haven't already seen ?!!". Man was I wrong. Jesus! This was it and it was bad to the bone. I am a person who doesn't give up, especially when I am hardest hit. Trust me when I say this, I was hardest hit as a solo rider here on this patch. This picture may not give you the idea of the challenge involved, so let me give some details. This is the road which connects Imphal (Manipur) to Silchar (Assam) with the length of 145 kms (appx). The alternate route to reach Assam from Imphal is via Aizawl (Mizoram), which would be roughly 600 kms. This long way around was my original planned route but now with shortage of time, I have decided to skip Mizoram and Tripura. Also after seeing the condition of roads on this belt, 600 kms would be equivalent to covering 1000-1500 kms on highways. There are few more routes but they can't be trusted or considered not safe. So with the time I had in hand, I had to choose the shortest route and so far. This road from Imphal, was fine* till Nungba, where I stayed last night. Its been 80 kms since I left Nungba and the road was perfect, including few rough patches here and there. But what comes after that, is the badass slush patch of roughly 5-6 kms or so I faintly remember (I had almost lost all my senses that time to recall the exact details!). This road in the picture is empty despite the busy traffic coming from Assam side, you know why ? Cause they are stuck few kilometers ahead for last 2-3 days trying to make it this far (where this picture is taken). Same with few trucks going from Manipur towards Jiribam (the first town I would reach after crossing this patch).


I will keep this short and just tell you this.. I struggled like hell to a point I would have passed out due to dehydration and fatigue. Bull fought like a warrior that day and didn't skip a beat, even when it was sunk in mud all the way till the cylinder head. Man I love my bike. I was worried that it will give up and that was expected given the situation. Imagine trucks couldn't pull themselves out of the mud, how much a tiny bike can do. I took half hour breaks for every 5-10 minutes of riding through mud, just to cool of the bike and to recover myself from the fatigue and dehydration. Had the clutch plates worn out this day, this trip would have told a different story from this point on. I would have to convince a truck going backwards (towards Imphal) to take the bike and me. Then had to take the road via Mizoram, which would have taken 3-4 days at least. But touch wood, that didn't happen. People on that route have seen me struggle. Many of the truck drivers couldn't believe their eyes seeing a motorcycle on this patch and that too a lone rider. Many of the drivers and passengers gave a helping hand when the bike was sinking deep in mud and helped us come out. I am so grateful to them. We (me and the bull) were the only ones to make it to the other side on the same day. Much to my surprise, we were greeted by lot of excited truckers coming from Assam side. They wanted to know the situation ahead as they have no access/visibility of the road condition ahead with the line of trucks spreading for kilometers on that mountainous belt. I assured them that work is being done by a crane and they should be able to move soon. A little after meeting this bunch, finally I got some life in me and the bike, as we saw the tar road ahead. "I f#cking love riding", is what I must have screamed out loud (inside my helmet though) that time :) :) :) I was shaky, the bike was making a lot of clatter, but we were functional and lived to tell this story. What more could an adventure rider ask for ?!!!!

So I reached Jiribam dipped in mud. There were lumps of mud in every nook and corner of the bike; wheels, suspensions, around the cylinder head, clutch cover, basically everywhere. First thing I had to do was to get rid of all this mud, as soon as possible. As that would affect the cooling of the bike and the mud if left longer may corrode electricals and metal parts on the bike. That will be more trouble on such remote places. Thankfully after a bit of looking around found a water service station. I unloaded all the luggage from the bike, so that it can be pressure washed thoroughly and I can inspect for any visible damage. The saddle bag also sunk in mud due to the slush party (pun intended!) and there was muddy water inside them and tons of mud on the outside. It was a mess, but nothing so bad that I couldn't have taken care of. So all good:)

The thing in the engine bay are my boot soles, which came off while riding through the mud

I, not only got the bike washed and dried (in the sun) thoroughly, I got the bags cleaned as well. By the way, did I mention it was the first proper sunny day I had ever since I left Tezpur (Assam). All my stuff were either wet or damp and this was an opportunity to make use of the grassy open patch and the abundance of sun light. I put all my bags tools and few other stuff to dry. The effort was well worth it in the long run. At this point I just wanted to escape Manipur as I knew we may not be able to handle one more such road, knowing there are none like the one we just came across. Silchar (Assam) was in the center of my focus that time and I had to make it there by the night. So I skipped lunch (bad idea!) and continued riding towards Silchar. I had to eventually stop on the way for lunch, as I got reassured the seeing its mostly the planes with good tar roads is all I am going to ride on from this point on. A small road side shack I got into and was treated with Pulav (rice with some gravy and bit of brown chhole thrown in) and it was delicious. A plate costed 10 bucks I remember and I had 2 to fill my stomach, especially after the muddy ordeal I came through today. Had water and filled up my hydration pack. Noticed that the juice or chocolates sold there were made in Bangladesh. When I checked the map, I was heading close to the Bangladesh border at that time. The town (don't remember the name), mostly comprised of muslim population as all were wearing white robes and a cap. 

Well, after the much needed re-fueling, me and the bull headed towards Silchar hoping for some creature comforts (I guess) and a more familiar environment after all these days of travelling through uncertain territories. But I was utterly disappointed after reaching Silchar. It was a busy (commercial) city and the traffic was horrible. I was already having a long day and this was the last thing I wanted. So after reaching there I was again getting drained out with the pollution, chaos and the maddening traffic. It was afternoon and sunlight was still around. So I decided to move towards my next state on the list: Meghalaya. I filled up my bike to the brim to be ready to ride through the night if I had to. The petrol station owner came to see the bike and wanted to know if I needed any assistance. After discussing with him, I decided to stay at a place named 'Badarpur' which will come on the way. Now with the decision made for the night halt, I finally had a free mind to relax and just soak in the views around. And I wasn't disappointed really. You must see the images below to believe me.


The views and the route here brought some peace into the otherwise chaotic day I had..


The view just got better and better..


The road was passing through a big lake (or may be there were two on each side of the road)..


Sun was starting to set and I was so happy and peaceful at this point to witness this..


For a moment I felt as if mother earth wanted to cheer me up for the tough day that I had.. 


Pure bliss!!!


Last image I shot before I headed towards my last destination for the day..

Roads in Badarpur were horrible to say the least and I got to know that they have been like that for ever. After searching for a while I found a lodge with a tiny room for 500 bucks. That was the best I could find in a short time. The owner was cordial and the place felt safe. So I decided to stay there for the night, as all I needed was for a night of stay and food for me to continue my way into Meghalaya tomorrow. And this place ticked all the boxes for a price which was half of what I was ready to pay. Win-Win eh ?!! Food was expensive but all in all I was satisfied with the stay there. During the night, power went off numerous times and the big a$$ diesel generator was put to use, which was roaring all through the night. It was close to my room in the lodge, so the whole room was smelling diesel when it was running. I was too tired to bother complaining to the owner to move it elsewhere. In the room, at least I could charge my devices which were drained out (Nungba had no electricity, remember?!) and took a back-up of my images. And before I knew I fell asleep with the electronics all over that tiny bed in that tiny room. I dozed off, possibly hoping for a better tomorrow and some new and interesting place to explore. 

I still can't believe that all this I came across on the same day. When I was struggling with that crazy patch of road, it was not even in my wildest dreams that I had thought to be so relaxed and witnessing such a beautiful sunset at the later part of the day. All I could say now is, I am glad that I chose to continue my journey, despite all the challenges.


Until tomorrow..

Sid

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