As I arrived in Guwahati on a Friday morning, I smiled at the thought of what the next ten days might hold. I was visiting Kaziranga and Majuli in Assam, followed by Mon in Nagaland to celebrate the Aoleang festival. The Northeast has been on my travel wish-list for years now, and apart from a 5-day trip to Meghalaya last year, the region remained largely unexplored.
What made me smile, though, wasn't just the adventure that lay ahead, but also that I was getting out of my comfort zone by traveling with 5 strangers. I was traveling with ChaloHoppo on one of their pre-fixed group trips, and 'the ChaloHoppo guy', Nishant, had set a rule that none of us would tell each other what the other person did for a living (until the end of the trip), so that we could get to know each other as people first (without any preconceived notions attached to professions). As an introvert on most days, I've always preferred traveling solo or in small groups with known people, so this was only the second time I was traveling with an unknown group (the first time was when I went to Spiti, a place I wouldn't dare venture on my own, and that time too I had a relative traveling with me).
As I got out of the airport, I met Bhumika and Avishek, a couple traveling to the Northeast for the third time, and Ashish, who had just finished a week of solo travel through Arunachal Pradesh. We then set out to pick up Himani, another solo traveler from Delhi, and Nishant, the ChaloHoppo guy, from Decathlon, where they were stocking up on a few things we needed for the trip.
For the next couple of hours, our slightly grumpy driver, Abhijit drove us towards Kaziranga, while we played a concoction of our favourite songs. We stopped for lunch at Anurag Dhaba (a restaurant on the highway) to have our first Assamese fish thali of the trip, and I cannot describe how good it was! We also ordered some pork curry on the side (which, needless to say, was delicious!) and I could already sense that this was definitely gonna be one hell of a (food) trip!
Greeted by Fireflies
"You would not believe your eyes
If ten million fireflies
Lit up the world as I fell asleep
'Cause they fill the open air
And leave teardrops everywhere
You'd think me rude but I would just stand and stare."
- Owl City
It was dusk by the time we reached Bokakhat, where we were staying at the Dhansiri Eco Camp run by Mr. Gautam Saikia and his family. As we turned into a from the main highway, we could only see a bumpy road, no lights, no sign-boards, and not a person in sight. Most people would panic with the thought of this, but for me, this was exactly what I wanted :) The adventure had begun!