When I transferred my Namdapha trip pictures from the camera onto my computer, I automatically named the picture folder as ‘The Trip-2012’ instead of using my regular naming convention ‘Name of the place – Year’. I suppose that gives a pretty good idea of the impression that the place has made on me.
So even though 2012 has been good on the Nature trip count with Kaas – the plateau of flowers and Phansad Wildlife Sanctuary, Namdapha is really ‘The Trip’ of the year.
‘North East Forests’ had been playing on my mind and dancing on my soul all of 2012 and I still have all of the research on them saved on my hard drive. One fine day however, the needle stopped spinning and pointed at ‘Namdapha with BNHS’ and so there I was… on the 9:40 AM flight to Guwahati, Assam.
It was a relief to discover that the flight I had picked was popular with 6 other trip participants as well including the group leaders and I wouldn’t get a chance to be lost, trying to get to the meet-up point in Guwahati. I didn’t know any of the participants though, besides a couple of people who were my course participants at BNHS, who I knew were not on my flight.
So I spied two of the participants, on the seats right ahead of me by their loud and engaging chatter about Namdapha with an equally enthusiastic neighbouring passenger…who seemed to be reminiscing about his own Namdapha Trip. Well…hehe…Eavesdroppers often hear interesting and highly useful things! ;-P
And once the flight landed at Guwahati at 2:30 PM, these two introduced me to the group leaders of the camp two or three rows down the aisle…all with beaming smiles.
Outside the airport, we all parked ourselves with our luggage in two taxis and reached the meeting point in about 45 minutes at Hotel Mayur, Paltan Bazaar. Half an hour later…read… ‘A hurriedly half eaten and half packed lunch and a washroom break later’, we were all lugging our bags in the afternoon heat to the bus-stop for Network Travels, which is the government recognized Bus transport service. The bus started around 4:45 PM and took us to another bus which was going to transport us overnight to Arunachal Pradesh, Miao.
The comfy seats in the bus for the overnight journey, that started at about 5:30 PM soon had most of us nodding off. I was one of the few, who were awake though and took in the night scenery enroute from Assam to Arunachal Pradesh. The road was full of mini speed breaker families…I don’t know what else to call them. Every now and then the bus would go up and down on six or seven of these small speed breakers one right after the other. This would result in the window glass edging open and me resolutely pushing it back to keep out the cold night air. There seemed to be a lot of smoke in the air. It seemed that the locals lit fires, either to cook, to keep themselves warm or maybe to keep the mosquitoes away.
Every now and then the open landscape would suddenly sport a small house at ground level, surrounded and almost hidden by a grove of trees with a small lantern twinkling sweetly in the dark. Very very picturesque even in the dark!
Dinner halt was at 9 PM. The restaurant, a typical from that area, served either Rice Thali or a Roti Thali with a couple of Vegetables and a Dal. Cost was INR 40 per Thali. The food quality matched the price. And so it is advisable to carry your own food for the journey. I gave a pass to most of the food other than a few spoons of dal rice and survived on the Cheese sandwich that I happened to be carrying. Washrooms at the restaurant were just awful…no two ways about it and there were no other washroom breaks, so be sure to empty your bladder before starting the bus journey.
The Bus journey came to an end the next morning around 11 AM and from there onwards we were split into 4 Sumo vehicles for the journey ahead. A two hour rocky ride and a halt where the Inner Line Permits were submitted and we crossed the Assam border and travelled on to Miao, Arunachal Pradesh. Next instalment of the journey…coming up soon…