06.01.2019 - 06.01.2019
After leaving the tranquility of loktak lake, I returned to the hustle and bustle of Imphal (capital city of the state of Manipur). There I went to a massive wonderful market run by women only.
There was almost a riot between the women and the police, due to an argument between store holders. When the police have guns and the women were throwing things at them I thought it was going to get nasty. I took a picture only to then hear a policeman yelling at me for taking the picture... Being the brave fellow that I am I ran into the crowd and disappeared down the side streets. I didn't want my phone taken away, or shoved up an oriface where I wouldn't be able to reach it!
Talking of markets, I forgot to mention some of the delights on sale in Nagaland. As well as fried crickets, snails and such wonderful bar snacks, there were also bags of frogs for sale (about 40 live mini frogs in a plastic bag for £1) - used to make soup. Frog soup is apparently used in the same way that chicken soup is used in the west to aid recovery when ill. I'm glad I didn't come across the dog market stalls that also exist.
In Imphal there is the oldest natural Polo ground in the world. I stumbled upon the ground in the city centre and there was a match going on. It was really exciting to see 8 horses galloping at full speed around the pitch. Great fun.
On New year's Eve I got a flight back up north to guwahati, in Assam. The flight was just £17, the alternative was 2 full days crammed into a sweaty Jeep - a no brainier! Being NYE I had booked and paid in advance a 3 day stay in a nice homestay. This seemed like a great idea until 2 hours before arriving at the homestay I got a message cancelling my stay (despite me paying in full online). Bastards!
This left me wandering around a massive city in the late afternoon on NYE desperately seeking a bed. Eventually I found a really nice place. I partied the night away with a single beer, curry... and an early night!
In guwahati I visited the zoo, the only green space around. Being the only white guy there I felt like one of the "exhibits". Lots of people talk to you with the usual conversation of "where you from, what's your name, can I have a selfie". I've even been asked for my autograph - what the bloody hell are they going to do with that?
I travelled to the next town, jorhat, by train. Much nicer than the previous train. No mashed potato shaped deposits left around the toilet holes. I had booked myself a hotel in advance only to find out on arrival that it had no electric or hot water. The bedding in my room was filthy - good choice Simon, plus I'd paid in advance online. The luxiry and apparent optional extras of electric and hot water eventually were available between the hours of 5 and 11pm only!
I spent the night in my sleeping bag trying to avoid the damned mosquito that was buzzing around my head. It sounded as if it kept going in one ear and out the other. I thought I'd got away with it... Until in the morning I clapped my hands on the little blighter, only to then find my hands covered in my own blood, that had exploded from inside the Mozzy.
The next day I was off to Majuli - the world's largest river island. A beautiful ferry ride to the island, where unsurprisingly I had a few more selfies taken. A very nice bunch of school kids on a day trip out.
The island is eroding at a fast rate. It has halved in size over the last 50 years. It may not exist at all in a few years time, with global warming. The people are wonderfully friendly and helpful. Many of the tribes people are desperately poor - all of the children yell "hi" as you pass and always have huge smile on their faces. The island is very flat, with many banana trees, coconut palms and bamboo, which is used to build almost everything.
I visited a mask making museum - made from bamboo, cloth, clay and cowdung!
I really enjoyed my time on the island, staying at a great homestay. They couldn't do enough to help. Though the bike that i borrowed with the seat that took half the skin off my testicles, could have been a little better.
Spending the evenings outside by a wood fire drinking local tribal rice beer was lovely. The "beer" looked like a glass of milk and tasted a little like a slightly sour yogurt drink. It doesn't sound great, but it tasted pretty good.
I'm now back in jorhat and have opted for a hotel with the added benefits of electricity and hot water, available only in a bucket upon request (typical of most places here). Beer on the balcony, curry (for a change) in a minute and another train to catch tomorrow morning.
Life is pretty good. Apologies to those reading this and going back to work tomorrow!