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Published: September 25th 2011
As we neared Cherrapunjee we drove higher and higher, becoming engulfed in clouds and mist with visibility being approximately 5 metres. Being dropped off in lower cherra we wandered into a hotel to discover the rooms were out of our budget range and only available for one night. Wandering further down a lonely remote road through the mist in search of hotel, we came across an elderly local lady who informed us we should head to upper Cherra. As she was heading there herself, we shared a taxi to the local market located right next to Plaza hotel. Discovering the rooms were well priced the four of us checked into a shared room. Hungry from our days travel we headed straight to the restaurant and gorged ourselves on the worlds best momos and much more great food. With little to do in this town, and feeling rather tired, we decided to call it an early night.
Day 1 - After waking, eating breakfast and dodging the stone-cold shower, we headed out in a taxi to explore three local sites. With Cherrapunjee living up to its reputation as the wettest place on earth, it was absolutely bucketing down! Nevertheless we headed
to a nearby cave network where we squeezed our bodies through tiny gaps in the rocks and waded through waist-deep water barefoot. Next on the list was the worlds 4th highest waterfall but unfortuantely due to bad weather it was not visible, neither was the monaliths (giant stones). With not much else to see or do and all rather drenched, we headed back to the hotel for more food and to dry off. Over dinner we became acquainted with another couple - Lou (England) and Yogi (Argentina), with whom we spent the night drinking countless bottles of extra strong Kingfisher beer before carrying ourselves off to bed in preparation for Cherrapunjee's main attraction the following day - the spectacular living root bridges.
Day 2 - Waking hungover to the sound of pounding rain, we suited and booted, ate breakfast and checked out leaving the bags behind. Agreeing a taxi price to take us to the starting point of our trek - the living root bridges - we made our way, making a stop at Cherra resort to pick up a crudely drawn-out map. Nearing our drop-off point, the clouds passed and the sun emerged. Upon arrival at the small
village, we set off down the worng path before the trek had even started. This path was to take us in the wrong direction - four unneccessary hours deep into the valley! Meandering through overgrown vegetation and wading through verocious rivers from rock to rock, we stumbled across a root bridge which we crossed. We were later to learn that this bridge didn't appear on the map, not surprising given it didn't look safe in the slightest! With the other side become unpenetratable jungle, not to mention that we hadn't seen another human being since we had set off, it confirmed our belief we were definitely heading in the wrong direction. Heading back across the rickety brige and retracing our steps, we soon stumbled upon the correct footpath, which unlike ours was well trodden and maintained.... all of a sudden our map began to make sense and we proceeded to view all othe bridges we had set out to explore. The walk to the bridges was very strenous (not to mention dangerous given we had to cross raging rivers) as expected but well worth the effort. Reaching the grandest of bridges (the double decker) we posed for photos and retreated
to the nearby village for much-needed food and drinks. Heading back to the start point village, we had to carry ourselves up 1000's upon 1000's of near-vertical steps - this proved to be one of the toughest challenges we have faced (1.5km straight up). Reaching our finishing point absolutely knackered and soaked with sweat, we were met by our taxi driver who drove us back to upper Cherra village. Back at the hotel, all seemed quiet on that Sunday night when all of a sudden at 6:10pm the earth began to move and shake violently. Realising this was an earthquake, everyone ran out into the street for safety. After about 30 seconds the tremor stopped but panic was very much still in the air. Heading back into the hotel we switched on the news channel to discover an earthquake measuring 6.9 had struck nearby Sikkim. Eating dinner we watched the headlines pour in. Exhausted and shaken to the core from the days events, we soon retired to bed.
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