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To be completely honest, even though planning & execution of a “Perfect Trip” might seem an easy task, I must warn you: it is no joke. Be it Luxury travel, bike rides, road trips or backpacking & hitchhiking journeys, none of that matters as all of it boils down to one simple conclusion: everything ought to be absolutely perfect! Planning and execution of any trip is impervious of the class or profile of travel. The tremendous efforts, the long hours put into building the impeccable itinerary and obviously, the money you thriftily invest, give you THE PERFECT TRIP you wish for.

The laborious work that goes on for more than a month or two seems quite mundane to others, but only you know the true struggle. Adjusting the destinations to cover maximum distance, adjusting the budget multiple times to fit in as many destinations possible, the numerous cost-cuts because you went a little overboard somewhere or the other, applying for leaves, squeezing the entire itinerary  in…

A Glimpse Of The North East

My companion for 23 days, she held up quite well!

I rode solo to Sikkim, Assam and Nagaland. Yeah! These are places, rather states of India. No they’re not nomadic settlements; they have exciting vibrant cultures that are hidden from the world. The residents are citizens of India with same rights that we have but are so easily neglected by the rest of us. I always wanted to visit the North-Eastern states of India and some incidences that took place and were broadcast on television (which doesn't happen much) urged me more. I don't want to hurt anyone's sentiments or challenge their views, these are just my thoughts as an explorer and a citizen of this country. Many people visit Nepal, Bhutan even Thailand but completely ignore the Indian states that border them. Some do visit but the number is almost negligible as compared to other places in India. I wished to change it

Such Breathtaking Views are common in Sikkim- Yumthang Valley

Permits, Permits, Permits!              
For a rider like me, the centre of attraction in Sikkim are the roads of North Sikkim. All the off-roading stories that I heard made my excitement go through the roof! Riding on the snow covered roads is like a dream and not at all an easy task. Before venturing off, permission from the Sikkim government is mandatory. But, the no. of permits required is surreal. “We are required to produce and submit a permit at each Indian Army (BSF, CRPF, ITBP) check post.4 original and a minimum 6 Xerox copies of each permit must be carried before proceeding towards North Sikkim” the hotel manager said. But, in the end all of it was TOTALLY worth it.

Permit No. 1

 Off-Roading- a test for the bike
The roads from capital city of Gangtok to Chungthang (North Sikkim) are fit for the off-road enthusiasts. The ride further towards Lachung/Lachen is even more thrilling. There are no roads! Just soil and gravel. The Gurudongmar Lake and Zero Point routes lack that too. “It’s just Ice, Black Ice, Some soil runoff and Mud. It’s fatally dangerous” a local guide said, trying to persuade me to cancel my ride. But when I reached my destinations after riding through all this, I felt a sense of accomplishment. One of the most adventurous roads in the world. It is not at all for the feint hearted though. The risks are too many and help is scarce. A must go for those who love off-roading and are ready to take risks.

Temperature plays a crucial role when you are a solo rider. If you misjudge the weather and head out, it could be fatal. The temperatures in Sikkim during December range from Hi: 14°C & Lo: -10°C, average being 9°C. But it isn’t the same throughout the state. West and South Sikkim are a bit warmer compared to East, while north reaches Sub-Zero temperatures. When I visited, the temperatures were - Hi: 1°C & Lo: -20°C in the North. Riding on a bike becomes impossible as you take the cold, dry wind head on; which freezes your fingers and toes. Now that’s an experience to cherish forever!
The temperature here was -9°C with the sun shining bright! 
Yumthang Valley, a sight to behold!
Prayer Flags in North Sikkim.


Short break en-route Kohima

An hour on the internet, looking at pictures of the hornbill festival led to a spontaneous decision- lets visit Nagaland! I wasn’t solo this time; 3 riders from Maharashtra joined me. The excitement was so much that we forgot to search about what all happens in the festival. We reached Kohima at around 12:30 am as we got delayed due to gridlock traffic in Dimapur city for about an hour and half. All the hotels & restaurants were closed. We found a group of locals who helped us get decent food. Finally we got accommodation at a hotel around 1:45 am. Tired from the hectic ride, we dozed off on an empty stomach.

Food- treat for the meat lovers, nightmare for others

Nothing, I say NOTHING other than Beef, Fish and Pork is available in Kohima. No vegetarian restaurants in a 20 km radius. There’s only one pure vegetarian restaurant in Zuzba, about 21 kms from Kohima. Even though there is meat, the quality is highly doubtful. Also, you only get rice and bamboo shoot to go with the meat which is almost impossible to eat for those who consume bread (Rotis- Indian bread) on a daily basis. We didn’t have anything but some fruits for almost a day and half until we began our return journey towards Dimapur and halted at Zuzba. It was like entering heaven and having a royal feast, even though what we had was ordinary Puri-Sabji.
                                                  A camping site in Kohima.                                                                                                                    

                         Naga Tribal set-up at the Hornbill festival.

NAGAs: Not that great

The only disappointing experience I had on my entire North East ride was in Nagaland when we had to deal with the local people. Ashwin, one of the riders from Maharashtra required a new tube for his rear tyre. A screw had pierced his tyre and cut the tube. We requested the tyre shop person to come with us to our hotel (which by the way wasn’t even 200 meters away) and remove the tyre so it can be fixed at his shop. Lying their idly under the fan and complaining about loss in his business he said “Why don’t you remove it and come to me. You can but just don’t want to remove the tyre. You’ll just waste my time. Go figure it out yourself.” What the hell! Is this the way you treat a customer who is willing to pay extra for your minimal efforts. Luckily the people at the Royal Enfield service station in Dimapur were quite sophisticated and sent a mechanic to help us remove the tyre and get a new tube fitted.

      A picture before leaving the land of rhinos for the journey back home.

Kaziranga National Park

A place of its own! You can see snow-capped mountains far in the backdrop of lush green plains. Not just the national park but the surrounding town of Kohora is quite good. The owner of the home stay where we stayed had a lot to share. He guided us on how to book a safari and which region to select for best animal spotting. Even though the safari wasn’t thrilling, we enjoyed it. The climate here was among the best I experienced on my entire ride.

                      Safari at Kaziranga National Park,Assam.

Food and People- a heavenly combination

After being disappointed in Dimapur, we didn’t expect much anywhere. Also, the food we had in Nagaland was next to none (except in Dimapur where the food was good). We were longing for food that would enlighten our taste buds and helping, kind people. Just as we entered Assam, we decided to take dinner halt. The waiter said that only Roti and "Baudy "(some local vegetable) was available. We ordered the food expecting the worst and ended up eating 5 portions of the vegetable and about 6 Rotis each. The cook had to make rice as all of his flour got used up in making the 24 rotis we had. He did all this with smile on his face and said “eat till you are full and your hunger is satisfied, that’s why I opened this restaurant. A happy customer is the motive.”  Kind people and unbelievably great food; it was a heavenly combination that we got to see after 3 days. 

After this ride I am eager to go back and discover the rest of North Eastern States, especially Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh. The roads, the scenic beauty and the weather, oh! I hope I can plan an adventure soon. This ride strengthened me to the core and taught me how to survive in the darkest hour. I’ll always cherish these memories and keep drawing lessons from my experiences.

The riders who accompanied me to Nagaland and Assam. From Left- Bala Shetty, Bhagwan Kharat, Ashwin Purohit, Siva (he wasn’t on the ride to Nagaland) and Me.

What is your experience from the splendid north east?


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