One of the hardest things about travel is the broken routine and ungodly hours for trains, planes and buses. We had a 4.30am wake up to call to get to Mumbai airport and take our flight to Guwuhati. There would then be a six-hour car ride ahead of us before we would finally arrive at Cherrapunjee, home to the living bridges.
Our Uber again had trouble finding us. Each day has been a battle with Uber. I’m not sure if it’s my app or the internet on my phone, or If the drivers just truly can’t work out where we are located. I realised quickly it’s best to call the driver … then the game of miming and broken Hinglish (Hindi and English) begins. Luckily we allowed plenty of time and the drive was quick with no traffic at stupid o’clock.
Mumbai airport has improved dramatically over the time I’ve been coming to India and I was pleasantly surprised to see that I no longer needed my print out of my ticket to enter the airport – just our e-tickets on the phone. Check in was all fine and security relatively swift. We enjoyed a way over priced coffee from Café Coffee Day and awaited our departure.
Flying Indigo airlines was great. A low cost carrier with a cheeky sense of humour. Their inflight magazine is called “Hello 6e”. Get it! I slept for half the flight and the three hours passed quickly.
Arriving to Guwuhati, I was in foreign territory. This was my first time to the North East of India and I wasn’t sure what to expect. Hindi is the national language, of which I can speak a little. English tends to be more scarce in regional parts, though tour guides and drivers are generally fairly fluent. We were met by a lovely porter who ushered us out with our bags quickly to meet our driver, Bablu, and Tour Guide, Bhuban, arranged by our tour company Take Me To India.
As we drove, we learnt from Bhuban about the area and that in fact we were in the capital city of the state of Assam. The people speak Assamese here. We would then drive into Meghalaya, of which Shillong is the capital. Ohhhhhhhhhhh. I have worked on a campaign about India for four months of 2016 and all along I thought Meghalaya was a place and Shillong a separate place. All along I’ve been saying “We’re going to Meghalaya to see the living bridges.” Not realise I was talking about the state as opposed to the place! We are actually staying in Cherrapunjee, which is the home of the living bridges. Look, geography isn’t my strong point.
I mentioned to Bhuban that it was Matt’s desire to pat a cow in India. Half joking, I said “Can you arrange that during our time?”. Next thing I know, we’ve stopped the car to meet a woman with two calves and Matt is patting them.
Our drive was filled with sleeping, snacks, chatting about the local areas and about travel in India. We stopped for a wonderful meal at Jiva Veg along the way. Beautiful restaurant with such sweet décor and a lovely view of the surrounding hills. We enjoyed two dahl dishes and naan – So so tasty. Matt has been most impressed with all my food choices so far.
Quick stop at Luke Umiam, also known as Borapaani- basically meaning Big Water. It was stunning and such a pleasant break from the drive. There are so many natural gems around India.
The views around Guwuhati reminded me of other rural parts of India I had seen before. As we climbed towards Shillong, it changed dramatically and the geography was like nothing I’d seen before. Hilltop villages, tea plantations and towering terrace houses.
We drove on and it completely flattened out to dry arid land on the top. Then it opened up completely into gaping valleys. Completely flat on the top with steep ridges then diving down into deep valleys. It looked a bit like the side of a table with able cloths flowing down the way the hills rolled and creased. It was breathtaking.
The drive was a tad sketchy as we rolled around these hilly roads. As we got closer to Cherrapunjee, we saw more betel nut trees and palms popping up, it was changing into rainforest like foliage. So lush and green. Sadly there would be few waterfalls as we are quite a way out of monsoon season now, but the weather in the Winter/ dry season is great for travelling around.
We reached the Cherrapunjee Holiday Resort, resting on top of a hill with valleys dipping down all around, it was just perfect. Modest interior with sweet décor in our rooms. The staff were lovely and welcoming and before we knew it we had tea and biscuits as we watched the sun go down.
There isn’t much to do in this area except appreciate the nature. It was just the getaway we needed! We got there just in time for sunset and it was absolute perfection.
At night, we were treated to a musical program put on by the local Kashi people. They sang adaptions of English songs as well as local Kashi folk songs. They also had a dancer who was popping and locking all over the place. Quite the show. And as always with India, we all had to get up and dance in the end. Our cheeks were hurting from smiling.
We started chatting to the other two ladies who were staying, and of course, one was Aussie! No matter where you go in the world, you’ll find an Aussie. Even the remote hilltop resorts of Cherrapunjee. We enjoyed sharing stories about India over a lovely buffet meal. By 8.30pm, we were full and tired and it was time to snuggle up on this cool winter evening and catch some z’s.
If you would like to follow our journey on Instagram, please check out @Lovellyem and search the #tag #EmmaMattyIndiaSing2017.
Written on Day 6 of our 24 Day trip in India with stopover in Singapore.