Our trip, up to this point, had been concentrated in a pretty small area of the Himalayas in West Bengal and Sikkim. However, we would have kicked ourselves if we had come to this region of the world & failed to visit the Living Root Bridges of Meghalaya.
We leave the Makaibari tea estate in a car driven by a teenage driver acompanied by his friend, loud bengali rock blaring on the CD player. We like it. We leave the mountains, & are soon driving thru a monkey infested military base & then thru Siliguri, the 2nd largest town in west Bengal. Arriving at the New Jalpaiguri train station several hours early for our train, we are quickly overwhelmed by this, our first exposure to Indian train stations. We are soon befrended by our "gardian angel", Theja, from Nagaland. He senses our confusion & stays with us & directs us to our train, arrainging to upgrade our tickets from "sleeper" to "first class" for us. We travel thru the night, & I am disapointed that there are no windows in our train car to see out of, but we get some sleep and arrive in Guwahati, Assam at about
4:30AM. Theja, who has also been on our train, in a different car, meets us after we disembark, to guide us thru the busy train station & secure us on a share jeep bound for Shillong. We bid a grateful farewell. as he is heading back to Nagaland. While waiting to leave Guwahati, Patty spots a "flying fox" bat above us & we wnjoy the dawn of a new day in the Northeast of India.
Shillong looks and feels different from the rest of India. The majority of the people here belong to the Khasi tribe, & belong to their traditional religon or are Christian. They are very hospitible to visitors like us. They love music and Betel nuts. We stay 3 days in Shillong & visit the facinating Don Bosco Museum of Indigenous Cultures, the Huge Bazaar, & the Tir or Teer (archery gambling).
The archery gamlking is a lottery of sorts with the local archery associations shooting at a target. People all over maghalaya place bets on the last 2 digits of the number of arrows sticking to the target. It is rally a facinating mixture of sport, culture & gambling.
In Shillong we
also had one of the most amazing meals of our trip (& we had some good ones). It was the "chilli Baby corns" at Bombay Bites!
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