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The part of the journey that we were most looking forward to while also fearing the most is here – we are going to be exploring the “Seven Sisters” of India. The North East had always been one of the unexplored parts of the country for us. Hence the enthusiasm of seeing a new place/s was high as it could be. Enthu notwithstanding, the monsoon isn’t the best time to be calling on the Seven Sisters. Not unless you are in a sturdy SUV with 4WD and high ground clearance. A family hatchback? Nah, that’s not what you want here. Yet, here we are, on an easterly heading. In a pair of humble Renault Kwids that are turning out to be superbly rugged on the 29 States 29 Days challenge.
But there was a small and a relatively relaxed matter of heading off to Sikkim before we began worrying about the North East. And the roads to Melli, the border town of Sikkim, were just what the doctor ordered – twisties! They snaked around picturesque eastern Himalayas prompting our visual aids crew to go gaga. The rest of us weren’t too bothered by their antics either, as our night halt wasn’t far off. Also, we were made to do the stretches a couple of times, so more driving around them bends.
We had to come back towards Siliguri and crossed the famous Coronation Bridge to head further into the east. The roads post the town of Chalsa were buttery smooth. They weren’t wide by any means but the asphalt quality as well as the scarcity of traffic just kept the good vibe going on. It was further enhanced when we stopped for lunch to grab some momos!
No offence to my Assamese friends but man you guys have to get some traffic etiquette in order. The frequency of motorists as well as cyclists going in the opposite direction was significantly higher than even Uttar Pradesh. We had to significantly slow down, which was a bit of a dampener on what was a great day so far. The roads didn’t do us any favour either. Bumps, potholes, barricades and poor quality in general was not what we were hoping for. Thankfully, the town of Bongaigon was just a hundred kilometres away from the border allowing us to reach our hotel earlier than the past couple of days. And the Renault Kwids performed admirably.
The drive on Sunday is going to be similarly relaxed as we will be crossing the mighty Brahmaputra to head into Arunachal Pradesh for brunch and then settle down for the night in the neighbouring town of Tezpur, Assam for the night.