Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Day 1: Started and Stopped

I reached the extreme east point Kibithu on Saturday night 9 PM or so. Courtesy Mr Upadhyay, I didn't have any problem getting accommodation. Took about an hour to fit my bicycle and setting up my bag mounting arrangement.

Biting cold greeted me at 4;30 in the morning. Everytime the cold water touched my hand it actually felt devoid of sensation. Getting the bags ready and adjusting the bike took some time, but I was off by 6:30. Excellent riding with breathtaking pine forest views for a few kms. Then I longed for tea - so stopped and asked at a house - and got it too with bonus biscuits! The house owner was displeased when I tried to offer him money, so I backtracked double quick. I was trying to aim to reach Huyaling (pronounced hai-long by the locals), about 140km away. Fireworks on day 1. Time was running short, so I took leave of my kind hosts and continued down the serene road.

My riding joy was short lived - 8km to be precise. After that my cycle stopped. The deraileur had gone for a short trip towards the rim. To my dismay, the deraileur hanger had broken off. Now, this piece is made of aluminium and getting it welded here was improbable. Meanwhile, the same sumo which brought me to Kibi-thu came along and I hitched a ride till Walong. We tried finding a welder but no luck in either GRF or in the military camp. Some suggested we go till Huyaling (100km away) to the army camp and try something there.

One option was to remove the deraileur entirely, reduce the length of the chain, and ride on a single speed bike. My driver told me there was hope of getting it repaired in Huyaling, I ended up taking the sumo back till Tezu.

So I have missed seeing the few tourist attractions around - the hot water spring near Walong, a grounded plane from World War II, and helmet point. But the bigger thing I have missed is interacting with the people. This area is dominated by the Mismi "tribe" (in double quotes since they are much civilized).

Many of the Mismi I have met have the regular occupations - teachers, govt servants, but one was a farmer. Many of them wear the traditional dress red colour dress made of wool. The climate here is quite cold year long, so that helps. Many have stylish swords too. Some of the women wear excessively large ear ornaments - some of them as large as a small 50ml bottle! Many things grow here - from food grains to bananas, and abundant quantity of oranges (Oranges are sweet, quite cheap too - in one place we got too for a rupee). Some of the Mismi seemed to be simple folk, while others I'll write about later. Their houses are made of either wood or bamboo. Most of the time the hoses are slight above the ground. The dwellings of the poor are made of leftover tar barrel covers!

The biggest joy on the Sumo rides were the magnificent views of the river Lohit. It is WIDE and the view from the viewpoint is magnificent. The view resembles lots of snakes strewn around.

Finding accommodation in Tezu turned out to be a problem, with most rooms booked by some students. I finally was able to get a makeshift room for 120 bucks - I had grains of sand for company. My brain was still heavy with the thought of not having ridden till Tezu - I had missed so much by what I thought was a hasty decision to transport the bike back till Tezu. I reckoned I could ride on a single low fixed gear all the way, and I had clearly not applied myself before I had made the decision to transport. Lots to think about! But I was upbeat about my immediate rides for the simple reason that Assam is mostly flat. Asom (anglicized name is Assam) => A-sam means "uneven". Slept early at 8!

1 comment:

Gauthaman said...

Nice writing style as ever. I agree your mind should have been heavy as you could not enjoy a apart of Asom. No probs! Buddy... ride back all the way and startover again... ha..ha...its easy to say as we are keyboard cyclists (oldman's proprietary word reused). Keep moving keep moving keep moving...keep mooovuu... remember... our song on the inclines of mountain2sea ride.