Tuesday 15 November 2016

Day 14 - Mawlynnong to Guwahati

The night wasn't that long but gave me enough rest to fully live 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. The morning was extra shiny and the 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, it's hard to leave the conversation, as the man has explored so much of India and especially the northeast, and one can learn a lot from his experience. But this time I decided to save our chat for 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 it's so special and worth a visit is, even if you want it now, you can't make one yourself. Because roots take 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 such bridges are in existence in Meghalaya; one is 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 this 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 fewer visitors (at the time of my stay), hence much safer to leave the bike and saddle bags unattended in 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 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 a 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.

The shoot is wrapping up and 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 traveling and motorcycles. She told that she was expecting her new bike (a Triumph T100) to arrive in some time 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.. never mind! 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). 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, and 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, that's 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 mesmerized. #InLoveAgain

Today was 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 me.

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, it's 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 locations, 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 its 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 the 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 to Scotland. Back then I didn't have 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 the highest rainfall. But I was all dry when I reached there and the weather was awesome. But there was this itch, to witness rain in Cherrapunji, which made me enquire around on the status of rain today. The answers were a bit disappointing, that monsoon in this part is over so there is not 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 roadside 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. That's 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 a 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 a 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 a few phone calls to the agency staff in Siliguri and got some contacts in Guwahati. After some inquiry, I decided on going with Indian Railway Parcel Service. It was certainly cheaper, safer (less damage shipped via the train than on 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 a few friend's friends who live in Guwahati and finally got the 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 this inquiry, 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 km 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 a few other travelers, who saw the bike and as you can guess, a conversation started :)

After enjoying my last shower of the northeastern rain, I decided to ride (in the rain) and continue toward 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 quickly 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 on this trip, today's ride was the most relaxed and I highly needed it actually. I had to join work immediately after I arrived 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 and 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,


View the Index page of this travelogue

No comments: