East By North-East: My Blue Diamond Did It Fast

J.Ravi

Petrol Powered + Diesel Driven
It's time to look back on our previous drives to NE.

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In April 2012, my erstwhile petrol Linea took us to AS and ML and then to Bhutan.

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Three years later, in April 2015, my erstwhile XUV 500 took us to AR from SK.

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Last year, in January 2018, XUV 500 took us to NL and MN and then to Myanmar.

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Now, recently, my Nexon took us to MZ and TR and then to Myanmar again.

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J.Ravi

Petrol Powered + Diesel Driven
24/25 JAN 2019

We had a nice, filling buffet breakfast at Ginger Guwahati. Idlies were one of the best and super soft. We were served with dosa too. The main advantage of having a filling breakfast was, we can even skip lunch and/or dinner en route in the absence of good eateries, so that we could manage with biscuits, chikkies and nuts.

We left Ginger Guwahati at 8:15 am on 24/01/2019. Blue Diamond had a tankful on the previous day while returning from Mizoram House, GS Road, Guwahati after obtaining the inner line permits [ILP]. During my stay at Ginger Guwahati, I had tried in vain to contact Govt Tourist Lodge, Chaltlang at Aizawl by my/wife's mobile and landline for reserving our accommodation. The lines were out of order, it seemed. I should have booked accommodation at some other hotel. I didn't do that as I thought we could get the room after reaching Aizawl. A big mistake.

I enjoyed the beautiful 4-laned NH from Guwahati to Shillong, but we bypassed Shillong near Umiam [Barapani] Lake. Then, the 4-laned NH turned into 2-laned one. This decent two lane NH continued. On our way, I stopped at many places to call Govt Tourist Lodge, but in vain. I wasted more than half hour for that. We were guided by Google Maps through Android Auto, which began to disconnect frequently for the reasons best known to itself. Then, I switched over to my NaviMaps, which decided to take me via Jowai>Hailakandi>Lala, which totally avoided Silchar. At Lala, NaviMaps first wanted me to take the bypass, which I did. But, suddenly, I found that the road was closed due to works in progress. I took the diversion and went into the village. Then, my date with the worst roads started until we reached Aizawl.

The road turned from bad to worse and from potholes to craters, that too in pitch dark. Loaded HTV and LCV coming zig zag in the opposite direction to avoid these hurdles. Dust came as bonus in dark.

After entering MZ, crossed a check-post, where I submitted ILP. One cop getting out of bed, came and inspected the documents. He wanted to know the duration of my stay. Instead of saying three days, I told him 'upto 30th'. He misunderstood it as '38th'! He started lecturing me that there were no 38 days in a month! I repeated, '30th not 38th'. He decided to continue his lecture. 'No..no..no 38 days in any month'. I did not enjoy this comedy, that too, after driving on the worst road for many km. I simply told him 'three nights including tonight'. 'Oh..then it's ok' said the cop. Then, he signalled his junior, who signed and stamped ILP and returned them to me.

We crossed Kolasib, where we could have stayed in another Govt Tourist Lodge, but we continued towards Aizawl, still 80 km away, another mistake. We reached Aizawl at 10:30 pm, with all the shops and establishments closed. I had set Chaltlang Tourist Lodge in NaviMaps. We were guided on a narrow, steep road and the road became further narrow. Behind me there was a Santro following. I guessed NaviMaps was taking me to nowhere. So, I stopped and enquired with the gentleman in Santro. As I expected, that was not the way to my destination. He took out a paper and drew a map and explained the route. But, that involved going reverse. He smilingly obliged and reversed and helped me reverse too! Another gentleman, who wanted to take out his Royal Enfield Classic was also waiting for the way! I profusely thanked them and reached Govt Tourist Lodge with the gates locked. I parked Blue Diamond near the gate, opened another wicket gate, went inside and gave a shout out. One person came out of his deep slumber and informed that the hotel was full and no rooms were available. He suggested Regency and gave phone number. I came out and called Regency. That was also full.Then, he recommended Florina. So, drove there, where I was told only suites were available, costing ₹ 7,500 plus taxes. Then, he suggested Royal. While searching for Royal after midnight, I bumped into two boys returning from their shift at KFC. Immediately, they started searching for hotels using their phones! When I told them to guide me to Royal and I would manage the rest, so that they could go home, they said, 'nothing doing. We will get a hotel room for you then only we will go!'. By that time, we were almost decided to sleep in the car for that night as we did in Kargil in 2011. They searched many hotels on that road using their phones. I walked with them to some only to get the negative responses. Murphy's Law worked overtime against us, it seemed! Finally, they could get us accommodation at JIT, costing ₹ 4,500 including taxes. We clutched at straws immediately. Dropped them near their homes. They invited us to KFC later. When we crashed on the bed, the time was 1:30 am on 25 Jan 2019.

After a well-earned sleep and breakfast, the first thing I did was to book our room in Regency for one night on 27 Jan 2019. By the time we were ready, it was evening. The Mizoram State Museum was closed. We had time to drive to KV Paradise, which was a memorial built by a husband for his wife, who was killed in an accident. Even that was closed by the time we reached there. But, the view was breathtaking. We clicked some photos and returned to hotel, which had a stunning view from its balcony.

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J.Ravi

Petrol Powered + Diesel Driven
The distance from Kolkata to Agartala, enveloping the India-Bangladesh international border is 1528 km, but through Bangladesh, it is 434 km only. If we are allowed to drive through Bangladesh like Bhutan without hassle, we can save about 1,100 km one way!

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Thanks for the appreciation, dichkaun.

Great Helpers ! Great Details ! Great Places ! Great Moves ! Great Efforts ! Great Views ! Great Pics !
Thanks a lot for the compliments, appreciation and nice words, adsatinder.
 
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J.Ravi

Petrol Powered + Diesel Driven
26/27 JAN 2019

We checked out of JIT, Aizawl after a quick breakfast of bread toasts and tea and left for Champhai at 8:30 am on 26 Jan 2019. As Google Maps predicts the drive time realistically based on traffic and road conditions, I switched over to Android Auto Google Maps on the infotainment system. We drove 191 km and reached Govt Tourist Lodge, Champhai at 3:45 pm after more than 7 hours due to road conditions. Bad roads lead to beautiful destinations. Champhai is no exception. It's a beautiful district headquarters perched on the top of hillocks. Originally, I planned to visit Rih Dil, Myanmar in the afternoon, but it didn't go as per my plan due to our late arrival at Champhai, thanks to bad roads.

We got a double room, costing ₹ 600/day as the cottages, costing ₹ 800/day were all full. There was a wedding anniversary party going on in one of the cottages. We too were invited during our chat with some of the guests, who came and started chatting with us after seeing the registration number of Blue Diamond. So, we barged into that party, wished the couple, got photographed with them and had sandwiches, cake and tea. Later, we had our dinner served at our room and called it a day.

On 27 Jan 2019, we got ready and left for Rih Dil, Myanmar at 7:30 am. After reaching the border check-post, I paid ₹ 20 to MZ police, got a gate pass, deposited my driving licence with the Indian Customs, crossed the bridge, paid ₹ 150 to Myanmar immigration staff and continued my drive to Rih Dil, which has a legend. After reaching the heart-shaped lake, we spent some time there photographing the beautiful lake. Since it was a Sunday, there was no commercial activity on both the sides. Even getting a cup of tea was difficult. We returned to India, parked Blue Diamond near the check-post, got back my driving licence from the Indian Customs and got the information from a friendly Indian soldier about the availability of coffee in Myanmar across the border. So, we walked back and had coffee - made out of condensed milk and instant coffee - in Myanmar at last!

We returned to Govt Tourist Lodge, Champhai, which was deserted. I settled our stay and food bill, had tea, got some more tea in the flask, left for Regency, Aizawl at 11:15 am and arrived there by 6:30 pm. Regency is a good hotel at Aizawl. We were charged ₹ 2,799/day including tax and good buffet breakfast. They have a parking space for 4 cars at the ground floor and another big parking lot on the top of their fifth floor. After completing the checking in process, the lady staffer at the reception told me that I could park our Blue Diamond near our room on the fifth floor. A helper accompanied us in the car and guided me to their fifth floor car park. I drove out of their building, went and took the right-hand hair-pin turn, climbed the road, reached the parking lot, parked Blue Diamod and reached our room. Later, we had our dinner at their restaurant and crashed on the bed for a well-earned sleep.

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J.Ravi

Petrol Powered + Diesel Driven
28/29 JAN 2019

Having rested in the previous night, got up early and checked Blue Diamond thoroughly before yet another long drive to Agartala on presumably bad roads. Got Blue Di rid of dust accumulated during to and fro drives of Champhai. Then, packed, loaded the luggage and got ready for a wonderful buffet breakfast. Checked out after settling the bills. Later, B Diamond too had a tankful. When we left the pump, the time was 9 am on 28/01/2019. The first 30 km of the road was very good since it led to Lengpui airport. Then, Blue Diamond's tryst with bad roads started again. More of bad roads, rough roads, metalled roads, work-in-progress roads, narrow roads, dusty roads and less of good roads all the way to Mamit and then to MZ-TR border. After 11 hours and 339 km, we reached Ginger, Agartala at 8 pm. After a good dinner, we retired for the night.

On 29/01/2019, after a good buffet breakfast, we headed to Ujjayanta Palace Tripura State Museum, which was a treasure of information, rare photographs, exhibits and models. Since photography was prohibited inside the museum, I could not click any pics inside. We enjoyed going through the exclusive section dealing with the liberation of Bangladesh. Then, we headed to Udaipur, where Tripurasundari temple was located [55 km]. After visiting the temple, we returned via India-Bangladesh border. While returning, Blue Diamond recorded 10,000 km on its odometer. By the time we reached the border, it was dark even at 5:30 pm. The ceremonial parade and lowering of the Tricolour were over. A friendly BSF soldier offered to click photographs for us. We returned to Ginger and rested after a good buffet dinner.

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