Day 2 was rough! We still had a great time, but it was definitely rough and not a day to repeat.
Lets start with a video of the day. Then I’ll give some details below.
From Guwahati heading north and west the roads were terrible. There was so much construction going on – well detours (diversions) for road work, but very little work actually happening. We tried to follow a route that Google Maps laid out for us, but the roads kept getting smaller and in worse condition.
The pavement was badly potholed, then disappeared altogether. The dirt and rock roads didn’t have potholes, they had craters! Then the road turned into more of a dirt bike path with huge mud holes in it. We figured it was impassible and didn’t want to risk getting stuck or damaging the rickshaw. We pulled off the road to try to reroute ourselves and happened to stop in front of someone’s house. Everyone came out of the house. Somehow word traveled and people started showing up from all directions. Pretty soon we had most if not all of the villagers watching us. One teen on a bicycle was so engrossed in watching us, he forgot to watch where he was going and hit a tree. He was stunned and likely embarrassed but seemed to be okay. No one spoke English, so they just watched us and were content to do so for the entire 20 minutes or so that we were stopped. Although being surrounded is overwhelming, they all seemed friendly and were quick to smile. The kids were all barefoot and running full speed ahead. Their feet must be tough as nails by the time they are two. There was no way around it, we had to turn around and go back the way we came. We waved bye and many of the villagers waved as well.
We went the entire day without a real meal. We just couldn’t recognize the restaurants. I don’t think there are many, because the villagers probably eat at home and we were NOT in places that tourists go! Someone speaking minimal English directed us to his snack stand where we picked up cookies, tea biscuits, and bananas. Not ideal, but it got us through the day. As we drive down the roads, everyone does a double-take as they pass by. We were worried we will cause an accident. In fact, we did. Another bicyclist rear-ended a taxi rickshaw while he was watching us. No one seemed to care but us. No damage done, no worries appears to be the attitude.
We also didn’t recognize hotels and found ourselves driving at night – not a good idea in a rickshaw! Everyone drives with brights and we were blinded most of the time. The roads were bad and there were random speed bumps that could take out an axle if hit too hard. Traffic was still heavy, the honking was nonstop, and it was very intense. We finally found a hotel around 10:00 that night. Exhausted, Dave squished the cockroach and we just looked the other way. It was a good night to use our sleeping bags!
Getting lost, going hungry, and driving at night are all things we would like to avoid in the future!