24 Jan

Hello. I am writing from Aizawl, the capital of Mizoram state. I have just had a stroll around town, with lots of climbing as it occupies a very steep ridge.

So I left you after my frolicking in Cherrapunji. I had planned to take a road that cut across a large chunk of cycling to Jowai, however the road on my map didn’t exist. In fact this road map of India that I thought would be a godsend when I found it in Darjeeling is actually pretty inaccurate, with roads not on it, some not existing and the distances often way off the mark. Anyway the ride back toward Shillong was excellent and I got to enjoy the views more as it was predominantly uphill.

I forgot to mention about the food in Meghalaya, it was remarkably different from the rest of India. Ok, so it was always served with rice, but most people ate beef and pork. The meat was stewed and very lightly spiced and normally served with some kind of vegetable dish or sometimes fresh tomatoes or cucumber. I tried a few different local specialties such as pork intestines (tripe) which was fine but a bit chewy, a smelly green puree that I had no idea what it was and my favourite was finely copped pigs head.

So after a shortcut over Shillong peak that avoided the city I rode towards Silchar in Assam. The going was slow; my legs had clearly turned soft on the plains and I had a lingering cold that produced an abundance of mucus which made things harder. I think my main problem was attitude though. I wasn’t finding the right rhythm and taking the hills in a steady rhythm rather mashing my pedals too slowly. Going slow is no real problem though, that is one of the joys of traveling by bike, I pick my own pace. Obviously I don’t want to waste too much time when there is more to see, but I don’t want to push myself constantly but to enjoy the process. So I dawdled along only doing 30km some days and lingering at nice view points or camp spots.

One eventful moment, it must have been just before Silchar was when I came across some buffalo on the road. Normally this is no problem, just carry on cycling and they pay you no attention. As you can probably guess that wasn’t what happened this time. One, I’m guessing a female, took a disliking to me as I approached (maybe the noise, maybe the smell), it stared at me and started making noises. So I stopped and waited. It started coming towards me so I backed up a bit and waited. The attention of the biggest one, I’m guessing male, was now aroused and took the same stance as the other. Eventually the rest of the herd moved on and only the bull stayed. I took my chance building up speed and following a motorbike safely past him but the noise of me coming spooked the rest of the them which started a little stampede. So it was I found myself squeaking my silly horn and inadvertently corralling buffalos until after about a 200m dash they found a place to bundle off the road and I was free to go on.

Before I reached Mizoram I cycled through the South of Assam. The morning I arrived I was taken to the police station to have my details taken. Sometimes this is a frustrating experience of waiting around, getting taken to another branch and then a grumpy superintendent tells me to be careful. Often there is a bit of a jovial atmosphere of having the foreigner in their area. They always feel like a lads club, blokes hanging around not doing too much, chatting and smoking; the one is Assam even had a badminton court. There is occasionally a woman on a typewriter or serving tea. That morning in Assam was one of the better experiences , I got free tea and a selection of little sweets and pastries to eat there and they bought me a packed lunch of bread jam and cake. And after posing for many photos I got one for myself with one of their guns.

Well I have had a days R and R here in Aizawl and fixed my handle bar bag which the bumpy roads broke and am ready to set off or my last 3 weeks. Tomorrow I will leave towards Imphal, in Manipur which looks like it is going to be a hard 500km ride over very hilly terrain. Wish me luck.

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