I left early’ish to catch a boat to Phulbari on the southern bank of the Brahmaputra. It left around 10am, when it was full enough.
As mentioned yesterday, the islands in the river erode away and form anew every year with the monsoon. The maps I have and the satellite images are way outdated. That’s also why the trip to Phulbari takes more than 2 hours.
I left Phulbari around half past 12pm towards Rongram. The countryside quickly became hilly and forested. And very beautiful. It must be even more amazing here when it rains more and everything is even greener and not as dry. The riding was good, and the inclines and declines mostly short.
There were very few people on the way, and even fewer villages. Almost all of the little stalls at the roadside were closed. Maybe (hopefully) because it’s Sunday today. I saw a couple of Baptist churches and I remember having read that most people in the state of Meghalaya, which I entered with my arrival in Phulbari, are in fact Christian.
I made it to Rongram and asked at one of the open stalls for a hotel. The guys were just about to point me north, when a black car with three tipsy guys plus a seemingly sober driver stopped next to me. The driver, Francis, explained that Rongram was not a good place for me to stay and that I should continue to Tura, 15km further. In a lower voice he added that there was a lot of terrorism going on here and I shouldn’t stray off the main road.
On the way I had seen (text-only) posters inviting to the ‘1st International Mongoloid Festival’ to some village for this weekend. In Tura I saw more posters about this, this time with pictures, and it is in fact a festival for/with/by tribal people and has nothing to do with the down syndrome genetic disorder (for which mongoloid is a derogatory term in German), as I first thought (and yes, I found the name weird). It’s in a village not far from Tura. I contacted Francis and we went there. Unfortunately, it was mostly over, today being the last day, but it must have been quite a fun party. There were still lots of people and an all-female band was playing various cover songs. “Summer of ’69” was the crowd’s favorite.
Many people were drunk and heavily armed police was patroling the festival area, but it was all peaceful.
I ended up with a bottle of amla wine that I have to squeeze into my luggage, somehow. I don’t know what amla is, but the wine is quite tasty. I do think ‘wine’ is a euphemism in this case, though.
Cycled: 91 hilly kilometers