Continuing where I left off with Cherrapunjee Holiday Resort!
At the Cherrapunjee Holiday Resort, we met Tejas, a PhD student in mathematics studying in Bangalore. Hopefully he doesn’t mind if I link his site, as he blogged a far better and more detailed description than I could! AND, he has some photos up – apologies that I won’t be able to post up any photos yet. For me, it’s interesting hearing how two people visit the same place, yet have slightly different stories to tell – definitely, the details are in the journey, and not the destination.
I laughed at his recollection of Mike and my discussion about my bug phobia at dinner! True, I was desperately trying to kill all the mosquitos around me, and Mike commented that I would be killing for a long time. Also, we were finishing off the bottle of gin we had picked up at the border, and so the conversation was flowing quite freely =) (Perhaps some would call it drunken ramblings?) Mike said, if I were to live elsewhere, I would need to change my view and my behaviour regarding bugs. I argued, I understand that I CAN get over my bug phobia, but for now, I don’t need to, so therefore, I don’t want to. Mike suggested, “just try not killing every bug in sight for five minutes. Try it.” Finally after a few minutes of back and forth, I said, “OK, I’m timing,” looking at the clock. As five minutes wore past, and as the evening went on, we got into a conversation with another Indian tourist, from Shillong or Guwathi, I no longer recall. He almost seemed like he had a few drinks himself, but it also could have just been his personality. Part way through our conversation, all of a sudden, he picks up the magazine I was using to kill mosquitos, rolls it up, and then *THWAP*!! That mosquito didn’t have a chance. I laughed and ribbed Mike about it later – “See?? It’s not just me, it’s the locals too!”
After dinner, we had to rush off to our village homestay for the night! We hadn’t told the owner that we were staying for three nights he had offered to us, and in the meantime, he had booked out our room. So he offered us the use of tents to sleep in, but then Mike suggested that we would enjoy staying at a local homestay! As we were leaving for the night, I told Tejas that we were going to a homestay, and he had a look on his face like, “Hey, how come you get to do that??” I hope they set up the local homestay program soon, seeing that not only international travellers but intrepid domestic travellers are interested in the same!
Because we had arrived at the homestay so late, all we did was turn into bed. Well, actually, Mike stayed up working on the laptop awhile before he went to bed, as was usual during our trip. In the morning, we had a chance to chat with the family awhile. The woman of the house, a grandmother, was actually recently widowed within the last few months. Dennis, the resort owner, suggested that she set up extra rooms as additional income, though the homestay program wasn’t officially set up for regular guests yet.
Now, backing up a bit, I didn’t get a chance to fully describe the hikes to the root bridges. I believe we walked 400 m down in elevation, and back up again. No easy feat, especially after the last night’s rain, the rain of the “wettest place on earth” during the wettest time of the year, the monsoon season. The paved road turned down into concrete steps, to which I thought, hey, this is easy! Until we reached the section of slippery rocks for steps trailing down a steep slope, which was difficult enough as it was, but then became even more treacherous as the steps narrowed to about 30 cm deep. I started walking down sideways, extremely slowly, while holding my walking stick with both hands, using it as a makeshift banister. After I became too exhausted and sweaty to continue with that technique, I basically crab crawled down on my butt, dirtying my pants and rainjacket tied around my waist.
The reward at the bottom – the living root bridges – the only ones of its kind in the world, was definitely worth it. After eating lunch beside the bridge, and taking lots of photos, we made our way back. Our shirts were constantly getting completely drenched to the bottom hem from sweating so much. The locals, on the other hand, were walking in plastic shower slippers, carrying heavy loads, and with nary a bead of sweat to be seen! We would stop every now and then to splash our faces with water from village taps, or water from the numerous streams running down the slopes. Half way up the impossibly steep section of steps I had mentioned, Mike noticed he forgot his glasses at the village at the bottom where he had last washed his face! Oh, man. No way I was going back down there again, so I waited. Nothing we could about it but laugh later. Of course, much easier for me to laugh at my friends, than to have to laugh at myself.
India… still to be continued…
The stunning trek to the living root bridges