We were up early and pretty much ready to go…..the girls had had a wonderful time at the concert and they gave me their SD card so we could exchange photos we had taken over the past few days via my Macbook Pro….we were interrupted by the owner’s husband insisting that we come for breakfast….they had arranged it early for us. We had breakfast with Mario as he was also heading off early. Once we were back downstairs we packed the bike and there was the usual barrage of people wanting photographs…..like the paparazzi really! Some of the girls from dinner last night also came out to see us off……it is probably the most auspicious send off Vince and I have had. Lots of hugs and kisses from everyone….even strangers we just met…..surreal. When it came to say good bye to our adopted Indian family Juri was the first and we hugged each other hard for a long time before we both burst into tears…..that was the flood gate really as each in succession said their good byes and we shared our hugs and thoughts…..Roshni told me she will come to Australia soon…..Vince and Babu just hugged each other without a word…..a very emotional farewell.
Back on the road we got a little lost in the narrow one way streets….and at one point the GPS tried to take us down a steep flight of stairs? But eventually we were out of Shillong and back on the road towards Guwahati (although we would turn right about 16km before reaching the city, to head towards Dimapur). The road down was scenic and winding ….so Vince really enjoyed riding it. At the turning we met Papu who was waiting for us in Jurabat on his Royal Enfield 350 Bullet, to catch up for a coffee before we left. He took us to the Dichang Resort and we sat and chatted for a while. In the carpark the ANIMAL was in full flight doing her thing posing for the many photos her admirers just had to take from every angle…..one man and his four friends approached me and asked where we were from and he was profuse in his “Welcome to India….I wish you safe journey….if you have any difficulties just ask people will help you”. Papu used his phone for me to chat with Babu and let him know we were safe (I had promised to do this before we left at the family’s insistance) and I again thanked him for everything they have done for us and making India so special. He put me on to Roshni and I said hello and asked her how she was….to which she replied NOT GOOD…..I got a little alarmed and asked what the matter was……she said “you are not here…..we are all here remembering the moments with you and missing you so much”……..it brought a tear to my eye. Papu had a gift for us…..a Rhino Rider’s hat and badge which he presented to me…..but I told Vince I will share……we will put in on our display cabinet when we get home….where we keep all our special keepsakes.
Back on the road it took us around 6 hours to travel the 450km from Shillong to Dimapur, and for the most part the roads were pretty good……at one point the ANIMAL was able to find her head and hit the 100km mark…..something we haven’t been able to do for months due to the poor state of most roads and heavy traffic. We were both eager to go past Kaziranga National Park (it doesn’t officially open until Nov), where Babu assured us we would see Rhino, Elephant and Deer from the roadside…..if we were very lucky maybe even Bengal Tiger. Unfortunately, something went wrong with the route that Vince had imported into the GPS and it took us on a 70km shorter route into Dimapur but not via the Park. We had also hoped to stop in the tea gardens along the way….and Babu had given us instructions on how to talk with the Manager and maybe get to stay there…..but none of it was possible as we had taken the wrong road….disappointing but I guess some things are just not meant to be.
Along the way we saw a fleet of buses called KARENG……maybe I am related to the famous “Ghandi G” and I just don’t know it….haha! The area towards Nagaland is more rural and covered in very lush green jungle as well as having some cultivated areas…..rice mostly. In one section, near the Nagaon district, there were many many people on bikes and roadside stands selling coconuts and we also noticed a more marked military presence as we approached Nagaland. We have heard varying stories on troubles due to political issues between tribes people and that in some places there are curfews…..we will of course be careful. Babu had instructed us that if we have any difficulties we must call him immediately…. as he is connected to the Chief of Police in Guwahati who can assist us anywhere we are. Throughout India there are always police checkposts….but no one stops us….they just wave us through. We passed a few toll gates today….all abandoned.
As we rode along enjoying the ideal riding weather, we began to feel like we were back in Pakistan….with children along the roadside calling out and waving madly at us…..people smiling and waving as they passed us on the road etc…..people are much more friendly here in the North East. The ride was great in the countryside….no heavy traffic….just the usual animals (goats, cows, dogs and the occasional pig) and people (walking – usually carrying loads, on bikes, pushing carts etc) to dodge as they mill without a care on the roads…..no one gets upset…they just flow around things. We stopped briefly at a river just before Dimapur to release the wreath that Vince had been given at the Kamrup Kamakhya Temple, I think he was supposed to do it…but he didn’t want to leave the bike…so he asked me to do it….hopefully that’s okay. About 6km out of Dimapur we saw the sign showing our two next destinations….Imphal 219 and Moreh 329…..Myanmar here we come….not long now!
We rode into Dimapur with no real hotel destination in mind…..in Guwahati (the last time we had wifi) I had sent and email to a place called Hotel Lake Shilloi asking about secure parking but had not had a response. The address was in the laptop, which was in the top box, under our tyres….so we just rode into town bold as brass looking for a hotel……what did we see….the Hotel Lake Shilloi….and who’s 4×4 Landcrusier was in the garage….yep Claire and Emiel were here. I caught the eye of the security guard who came out and stopped the traffic so we could enter and when we got inside the garage….guess who else was already there….Mike with he and his father’s bikes! Aad (Art) had gone to get a replacement sprocket for Mike’s bike which had become damaged….so yahoo the gang are all together again without even trying! Now I know why the GPS took us away from Kazirenga and the Tea Gardens….this is where we were meant to stay tonight!
Soon after arriving Vince became very unwell with his own diagnosis of “Gut Rot”! He spent a very uncomfortable night up and down to the toilet and feeling very ill and weak…. so in the morning (25th Oct) we decide to stay another day so he could rest. It had been on the cards to stay a second night as Claire and Emiel had to go to a hospital to deal with the ongoing problem they have with some “bites” that won’t heal….three months now….and they are all getting much worse. Aad (Art) and Mike have had to do some work on Mike’s bike….and wanted haircuts (which I ended up giving them because Mike didn’t trust Indian hairdressers)…..so it worked out for all of us. Since we are so close to Myanmar, just days away, we have decided to travel together from this point on. Given the higher military build up we have seen, the obvious curfews in place with everything closing early….there is safety in numbers!
It does sound just marvellous, so glad to hear the India experience has picked up.
Looking forward to the next instalments.