We reached Guwahati at 8 am and went to Neil’s room to refresh. Vaibhav had a client from Chennai, a couple, to entertain. So he departs from us. Now for the second leg of the tour, Neil will be the coordinator.
I must tell you few things here. The first part of the tour was done by me alone. In this second part I have three more families with me. They are: Mr Prakash Oak (4 persons), Mr Desh Kulkarni (3 persons) and Mr. EG Bhat (3 persons). So now we are 11 people.
It is important to mention a crucial factor that has played a major role in the decision making. In Bangalore, we can get 13-seater Tempo Traveler (TT). It is 3 (seats) X 3 (rows) and at the last row we have 4 seats. This vehicle is slightly uncomfortable for long journeys as the seats are cramped.
In Manali, I had travelled in 10-seater TT. The length of both the vehicles is same, but one row of seats less here, so it is more comfortable. This type of Tempo Travellers is not available in Bangalore. And in Guwahati, we have a 16-seater TT. The length of this TT was more than the 13-seater Tempo Traveller. It had one extra row of 3 seats. It is fairly comfortable.
These vehicles are used as local mini buses and not generally available for the tourists. Our logic was like this. We are 11 people plus one guide (Neil), makes it 12 seats, i.e. first 4 rows. So we leave out the last row vacant as generally nobody wants to sit on that row. And it can be used for relaxing. To be frank, the 16-seater TT is more comfortable than the 13-seater one.
So, with the TT, we go to Guwahati Airport. It was foggy till around 12 noon. Hence all the air traffic was delayed. The weather was like this for the past three days, we were told. So we wait patiently for everyone to arrive.
While waiting for my friends, I observe that the city of Guwahati, including the airport is one of the dirtiest I have visited. At the airport arrival gate, there were lot of taxi drivers and general public. The ground was full of stains of Pan Parag. Actually I can count the waves in a sea, but it was difficult to count the spitting of Pans falling on the ground. And all the travelers coming out of the arrival gate used to pull their wheeled luggage on that shit.
Our team arrived at around 6 pm, instead of 2 pm. And we depart to Shillong at 6.30 pm. As in case of any big city, even Guwahati has also traffic problems. The endless traffic jam delays our exit from the city. And soon we are on to Guwahati-Shillong Road – NH40.
Now, here is something interesting. What will you do if a shop keeper on the left side of the road charges you one rate and the shopkeeper on the right side of the road charges you some other rate? Or say, if an IOC petrol bunk on the left side charges you Rs 69.21 for a litre of petrol, but the same is charged at Rs 66.06 on the bunk on the right side. Or say, something you do is legal on the left side of the road but is illegal on the right side of the road. I would say, you simply enjoy the benefits, because I am talking about NH40, or rather the Guwahati-Shillong Road. A few kilometers of this busy road is a boundary line between Assam and Meghalaya. It is one of the busy roads of NE. It is a four-lane at many places. And the work is in full swing to make the entire road four-lane. For few kilometers, the divider of the four lane acts as the boundary line between the two states. So depending on the tax structure, the prices vary from this side to that side. I haven’t read this info at any web sites. And I have travelled in many states. Yet this is something new to me.
We reach Shillong at 10 pm, and check in to ‘Travelers Nest’ Contact No. 03642501108, 09774077511. The hotel is a value for money type, and I would definitely recommend. We got some hot food around 11.30 pm, and then called it a day.