Crash Course In Travelling Solo

Photo of Crash Course In Travelling Solo 1/6 by Pratima Yadav
Photo of Crash Course In Travelling Solo 2/6 by Pratima Yadav
Photo of Crash Course In Travelling Solo 3/6 by Pratima Yadav
Photo of Crash Course In Travelling Solo 4/6 by Pratima Yadav
Photo of Crash Course In Travelling Solo 5/6 by Pratima Yadav
Photo of Crash Course In Travelling Solo 6/6 by Pratima Yadav

Going Solo..... no worries ... you are never alone out there ...

My friend helped me get a New year show in Guwahati, Assam. Flight tickets were sent to me.

I stayed with his family there. For a traveller staying at friend's place or with a family is a lot better than spending nights in Hotel rooms all alone. And, nothing can beat home food.

I thought of starting my 2016 with an experiment of travelling solo.

Early morning on Jan 1st reached Paltan Bazaar Taxi stand to get the share Sumos to Shillong.

Cost/head - 170/-

Travel time - 2 hours

As it was a holiday and dry day, there were rarely anyone travelling to Shillong from Guwahati. The sumo guy took almost 1.5 hours to fill his ride and start. It was already afternoon by the time I got there.

The Taxi driver guessed I am travelling alone and offered me tour to whole Shillong at 2000 bucks.

My whole trip budget itself was 2k. Any ways I asked him to just drop me at Police Bazaar , main centre area of Shillong where you get everything from taxis to hotels to restaurants to market.

Lesson 1: Never travel alone in an unknown place with a taxi driver.

And my first point was proved when I was trying to find some public transport or share taxis to various points in Shillong.

No one will easily tell you where to find what and half of them wont even know anything.

There are three main points in Shillong: Shillong Peak, Golf course and waterfalls. If you are travelling in group you can vsery well hire a taxi which will ask you to pay 1500-2000. But do not pay them more than 600-700.

Well I observed few college guys looking to hire a taxi to some location. It was already 3PM. Sun sets by 4:45PM in East. I thought let me go to some place at least today.

They agreed to join and we went to Umiam Lake - Bara Paani. Beautiful! Not exactly in Shillong but on the way to Shillong from Guwahati.

From Police Bazaar to Bara Paani - 300/- for private and if sharing 20-40 bucks per head.

Boating in the lake - 100/- per head.

I thought of spending only two days, so thought of getting a Hotel and with the experience I had with people and 3-4 degree temperature , I kept my backpacking spirit a little low.

Hotels near Polica Bazaar are expensive but keep searching and bargaining - you might be lucky to find one at 500-700/- - Single bed.

Lesson 2: Do Not tag along with people for long. Accompanying them for commuting and getting some information from locals is fine, but advisable to get back to your solo travelling, even if they are from other states working or studying there.

I decided to start Day 2 with Mom's blessings hoping to be better. I knew local places and hiring taxis can be a tedious job for me, specially when I had just two days.

I decided to search for sharing sumos going to Cherrapunji, 2 Hours from Shillong or Khasi Hills - 2.5 hours from Shillong.

I took local public bus from police bazaar to Bada bazaar which is hardly 700m.

I was roaming here and there asking people share transport to Cherrapunji or Mawlynnong - Cleanest Village in Asia. Luckily two local ladies observed me and approached to help.

Lesson 3: Searching places, transport or getting information may take some time - Have Patience and go along with the situations.

With their guidance I walked till Anjali Complex - 300m from Bada Bazaar which is the main Taxi stand.

A sumo was ready to leave for Dawki, and I just heard it is a good place. I decided to board that as there was no luck for Mawlyngnong.

Shillong - Dawki - Cost - 120/- per head - Travel Time - 2.5 hours.

To my surprise it turned out to be India Bangladesh Border with clean beautiful waters. My new year was made. The sumo drops you till the Dawki Bazar.

I tagged along with a guy going to his home town in Bangladesh to reach the border. He went to customs office and I continued my journey.

Local Taxi in Dawki from Bazaar to Border - 50/- or Bus - 10/-

I joined a family returning to Shillong for a drop till India Bangladesh waters for boating as the army don't let taxi drivers stay there until its your private booked taxi.

The distance from Waters - Bazaar- Border is hardly a Kilometer. The village is very very small.

To my luck, the driver along with the family referred his friend for my return as his friend just came for drop and was going empty to Shillong. He asked me to pay whatever I paid to the Sumo. As it was private he asked me to pay 200/- . I agreed.

The one trip boating will cost you 300-400/-. They don't let different group join and pay. I had to go alone and bargained to pay 200/-.

I asked Taxi driver to return via Mawlynnong and bargained a deal of 700/- from Dawki to Mawlynnong to Shillong.

Taxi Driver's Contact: Jamal - +919774974038

I know it was against my lesson 1 to go alone with the driver but at times your instincts guide you.

Dawki- Mawlynnong - 1 Hour drive and I was already late. The driver was good and understanding enough to drive fast and somehow make me see the place before dawn.

He dropped me to see the Living Root Bridge at Riwai Village. Its a hike down the river stream till the bridge and uphill hike to the breathtaking View Point through the village. I had to literally run and still it took me an hour to take pictures and enjoy the place.

We rushed to Mawlynnong finally and had food there. It was around 5:05PM and almost dark.

I took rest and had red tea.

We again rushed to Shillong as I had to catch Sumo cab back to Guwahati. We made it to Shillong by 8 PM and it was already too late. Sumos to Guwahati do not run after 6PM.

Private Meghalaya taxis with ML number plate will charge you 2000/- for dropping you and coming back until you are lucky to find Assam Taxis with AS number plate.

My day 2 went well and I was back on my backpacking mood. I searched a place to stay for just 200/- for a bed. The hotel guy was kind enough to help me and even served me tea. The common bathroom to use was huge and the whole arrangement was a lot better than any other Hotel around.

You meet all kinds of people on the way and you end up learning or gaining experiences. The Hotel guy helped me in every possible way and refused to even collect money while I was leaving.

Early morning found Sumo back to Guwahati at the same rate 170/-.

Remember always - "Friends and assets are the surest passport." - Aravindh Vinodh.

Photo of India bangladesh waters by Pratima Yadav
Photo of Living Root Bridge, Riwai Village, Meghalaya 793110, India by Pratima Yadav

Cleanest Village in Asia

Photo of Mawlynnong Road, Mawlynnong Rd., Riwai, Meghalaya 793109, India by Pratima Yadav
Photo of Umiam Lake, Umiam Lake, Meghalaya by Pratima Yadav
Photo of Umiam, Umiam, Meghalaya, India by Pratima Yadav
Photo of View Point Riwai Village by Pratima Yadav