Picked up a few backup tools for the bike in Imphal. Lent them to a friendly tuk-tuk driver to help with his maintenance. Naturally he forgot to give the tools back.
And so here I am, stranded 10km out of Kohima, with a broken chain and again not even a basic wrench to fix what would otherwise take me two minutes.
Got a lift to town — with Nemo on the back of a truck. Got new wrenches. I’m hiding those from everyone now.
Roadside sign: “You are now in the reign of the Naga Konyaks.”
Is it a welcome or a warning?
Culturally, Nagaland seems by far the most distinct of this region. There is a legacy here of headhunting which by some accounts only ended in the 1980s. Apparently human skulls are still displayed by local tribesmen, although buffalo and deer bones (and an occasional rotting tiger corpse, which I would’ve preferred not seeing) are much more common.
The road is a flashback to the “adventure highways” of Manipur and then there’s that guy! — he comes out at me with a spear, face and body tattoos, a dorky haircut and an outfit more reminiscent of Africa than Asia. Oh — he wants a photo. Oh — now he wants my jacket…
And no matter how hard I try to stay unjaded — it’s rip-offs galore on every corner and crisp western dollar signs twinkle in the locals’ eyes, blurring their vision. I’m leaving with mixed feelings…
Changed my very last US$100. Still a looooong way to go. Kicking into Travel: Expert Mode.
The Craptastic Roads of India
Roads in India are like the occasional girls and boys in my life — there to tease, never to stay.
Off-road challenge for today; like a hunter, following old car tyre tracks through a vast swamp where every inch looks exactly the same! Then I see three ridiculously crappy ferries that don’t have set docking spots and you just hope to spot them above the tall grasses. And it’s bumpy but fun — until I fall off a bridge. Dammit!
And laughing, because it’s all just too ridiculous to be a route between two major cities. The Crapfest of a Road Award goes to… India, of course. Yay, take it all! — gold, bronze, silver — it’s all you, India.
Last 10km of the day and suddenly wide, smooth tarmac! And I push Nemo to 70kph, just for a moment, just in case we may not get another chance, another road. And Buddhist prayer flags decorate my way. Ah, I’ve missed those. Surely I’m nearing Nepal and the Himalayas.
Perfect camping stop by a river, surrounded by mountains.
Two men come by:
You sleep here? It’s dangerous! Bad people come here! They drink beer!
Well, as long as they bring one to share, we’re all good!
They leave. There’s lots of dry wood around and I get a brilliant idea — let’s start a fire. I have two matches left. Let’s see if it’s meant to be.
Half an hour of creative blowing and puffing, and right as I’m about to give up — a flame! And with the starry sky above my head, I just couldn’t feel happier.
Two other men show up:
You sleep here? It’s dangerous! Bad people come here!
Are you bad people?
No, no… You want beer?
They also brought chicken to roast. How awesome.
For more on Matt’s films and travels, check out the Etherium Sky Production Blog at etheriumsky.com/prodblog