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Old 11th January 2010, 17:01   #121
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Fantastic narration from you guys and great photos. In fact like this pace and build up as it has the images of the areas through which we went and just not the destination itself.


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Originally Posted by Ravveendrra View Post
What a breakfast it was, the board was truly groaning under the weight of that delicious spread. Hungry travellers that we were, starved for home cooked food, tempted by that sumptuous fare - we tucked in shamelessly. ADC's cousin and family must think we are absolute gluttons. I take this opportunity to thank on behalf of all of us, that wonderful family for welcoming us, four strangers, so warmly into their home for a real feast.
Quote:
Originally Posted by pulsar56 View Post
Thanks to ADC's cousin for the delicious breakfast.

Customary group pic.
Attachment 261966

Attachment 261967

That breakfast was a saver and much needed one, particularly when we think of that 2 hours spent at temporary road block at Cooch Behar, could do with some bananas and oranges for food around afternoon time.

As my cousin sister and I had commented that day, it has become like a "dhaba" for us while doing the Sikkim and N Bengal tours, a quick breakfast while going up after a night journey from Calcutta and while returning a quick nap around late afternoon and dinner before starting out for the night journey back home!




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Originally Posted by Ravveendrra View Post
ADC also expressed some reservations about the security situation on the road to Tezpur and wanted to stay back in Guwahati. We however wanted to continue to Tezpur so as to avoid an early morning start the next day. So we decided to go at our own pace to our respective destinations for the night.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sutripta View Post
Normally safe. A night super (as the long distance night buses are called) does get robbed once in a while.

Yes had a previous idea that it was unsafe due to Bodoland problems. But as when we came out at that intersection from where one can choose to take the NH31 or NH37, came to know from one truck driver that it was safe at night since Army presence is there but never to stop even if someone jumps in front, leave alone waving to stop. Took a decision that then to go via Guwahati, see how well feeling like driving, and if okay then continue to Tezpur.

As we reached Guwahati at around 9 pm, body and mind was like telling to rest and better to start early. It was already 34 hours of driving from Calcutta [including that fast 3.5-4 hours of sleep at Siliguri] and thus after much searching for 1 hour found a decent hotel with parking. Had some good dinner and soon was fast asleep for morning journey again at 9 am from Guwahati to Dirang via Tezpur.


Quote:
Originally Posted by pulsar56 View Post
Not much fog in the morning (well, relatively)
Attachment 261990

Great pics Nazim.

And what good Safari VTT-TMT pics on the run. Again thanks much for those pics, never had a pic of the TMT on the move.



Quote:
Originally Posted by akroy View Post
For me the group pic with ADC & Sutripta takes the cake. They are indeed the NE highway gurus.Abhi

This was my second meeting with Sutripta-da, first one was at Calcutta itself.

And i know absolutely less about those routes than Sutripta-da out there - having great knowledge of the routes of those parts and of lower Assam. In fact all those road and conditions came to know there and then itself from my cousin sister's husband and Sutripta-da.

Last edited by adc : 11th January 2010 at 17:16.
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Old 12th January 2010, 10:07   #122
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Excellent narration Ravvs and co. I missed the following stretch on my Mirik-Siliguri-Guwahati return journey on 31/12/08 as I had taken the Mainaguri-Dhupguri-Falakata-Coochbehar route.

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Originally Posted by Ravveendrra View Post
The road from Mainaguri to Mathabanga and onto Cooch Bihar was narrow but smooth with only a few small bad patches. The USP of this road however is the scenic beauty of the route. The road is lined on either side with lush green trees, plants and bamboo which give way to tea plantations. Boards by the BSF dot the route right from Jalpaiguri and serve to remind us about how close we are to the border with Bangladesh. The road from Mainaguri to Mathabanga skirts this border - literally hugging it and gives one the unique opportunity to see tea being plucked in another country - Bangladeshi tea anyone?

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Old 12th January 2010, 11:26   #123
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The broken bridge you mentioned is it between Malda and Raiganj.Last time in 2007 I took almost 1.30hrs to cross the bridge as it was maintained by army and only one truck could cross at a time and the trucks were standing for almost 2-3 kms on either side.While coming back from Darjeeling I made sure I crossed this bridge in night as the truck traffic was stopped on the bridge.
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Old 12th January 2010, 18:33   #124
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Have just glanced over the pics till now. But before I get on to reading the thread in full details, please take my bow complete with a hat tip, all five of you (the mighty Skoda included). Great achievement and awesome spirits!

Now for the chai and the rest of the thread...
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Old 12th January 2010, 18:48   #125
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Quote:
Originally Posted by akroy View Post
Nice pics of NE there pulsar and Raveendra.

Keep the pics flowing. BTW, didnt expect such a beautiful hotel in Tezpur. The rooms look damn professional.
Thank you!
Hotel KF takes the 'first place' in the list of hotels we stayed during the trip. We were really impressed with them.

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Originally Posted by adc View Post

Great pics Nazim.

And what good Safari VTT-TMT pics on the run. Again thanks much for those pics, never had a pic of the TMT on the move.
Thank you.
Let me know if you need the larger (original) images of the beast.

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Now for the chai and the rest of the thread...
No Chai please, finish your dinner instead and check this thread again for the rest of the pics!
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Old 12th January 2010, 20:22   #126
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Originally Posted by MileCruncher View Post
Ravvs garu, One thing that I forgot to ask yesterday was that how much toll did you pay between Vijaywada and Kolkata on the GQ. Its almost Re.1/Km on the Delhi - Mumbai section of GQ
We will tot it up and let you know. The last pic posted by Tirtankar shows the negative camber. It will also be visible in the pics of the next few days or one's we took of Laura taking a bath.

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Originally Posted by adzegeek View Post
Now I understand what Ravvendra meant when he said we didnt compromise on hotels ;-). where was the nearly 1K+ sft accomodation?
The huge rooms were in Tawang. As Nazim just said, the KF's rooms were truly impressive. In a metro it would be called a boutique hotel and the rates would be sky high.

Quote:
Originally Posted by adc View Post
Fantastic narration from you guys and great photos. In fact like this pace and build up as it has the images of the areas through which we went and just not the destination itself.
.........
Thank you sir, sometimes the journey is a destination by itself!

Quote:
Originally Posted by gajadonga View Post
The broken bridge you mentioned is it between Malda and Raiganj.Last time in 2007 I took almost 1.30hrs to cross the bridge as it was maintained by army and only one truck could cross at a time and the trucks were standing for almost 2-3 kms on either side.While coming back from Darjeeling I made sure I crossed this bridge in night as the truck traffic was stopped on the bridge.
You are right the broken bridge in the pic is between Malda and Raiganj. Seems that the new bridge has been erected since then and there are no more queues at that place. The NE abounds with narrow bridges put in place of broken bridges and there will be several other queues.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pulsar56 View Post
.....
No Chai please, finish your dinner instead and check this thread again for the rest of the pics!
Seems Nazim has re-loaded whatever needs to be re-loaded and we will have the flow of pics again.

Now to get on with the story:

Tezpur marked the end of the 'transport run' and our vacation & sightseeing were to begin once we got out of Tezpur. The mood was very different even over breakfast that morning in Tezpur. Breakfast was a nice long relaxed meal. There was no sense of urgency, we did not feel the need to rush to our destination and we were totally relaxed and looking forward to seeing things during our journey. We are also hoping to get some great pictures. Unfortunately, the best views and experiences could never be captured by the camera, no words will ever be enough to describe them, we did however try to capture it all.

All of us had our warm clothes out and ready to be put on. The D60, D90 and FZ were taken out, cleaned etc and kept in readiness. The mood was so upbeat that even Jr.'s stomach shrugged off the niggling problems caused by that Ghar Dhabha and he was in fine fettle and good cheer, eager to see the Himalayas up close. When we got down to load luggage into the car and get on our way, I almost did not recognise the car. Arun managed to get someone from the hotel to clean the car and she looked so different from the dusty tired bedraggled looking babe of the previous 2 days. Now she looked clean & shiny with no signs of fatigue or any worse for her 3000 km run over the past few days. The car seemed to match our mood and looked just as eager as us to savour what lay ahead. The poor baby did not know that what was to come would probably be the most gruelling roads she will see in her life. We made the last few phone calls since we were not sure our phones would work once we were out of Tezpur - how right we were, no phones other than BSNL post-paid connections work in the Kameng and Tawang districts of Arunachal Pradesh.

We piled into the car eagerly, original documents and Inner Line Permit in hand and headed north out of Tezpur. The landscape changed gradually at first and then more dramatically. Men in various uniforms became more visible. Some were on foot patrol, scanning the area around the road carefully, some were at vantage points along the road keeping a close vigil on the happenings on the road. Some were on trucks, weapons at the ready, eyes peeled and looking in every direction. One hapless motorist's car broke down and he was trying to fix something - with one soldier standing watch on him from 5 feet away and four others about 20 ft away in each direction and scanning every direction carefully. I thanked god I was not in that motorist's place, I would not have been able to think straight with so many armed soldiers watching me.

We drove along that miserable single lane road with its rutted surface to Bhalukpong. There is however hope for this road as work has begun on making it a 4 lane dual carriageway. We passed a forest area that is part of the Nameri National Park on the way and marvelled at the tall trees. Mercifully the check-post at Bhalukpong was not crowded and we were shooed-in in about 5 minutes. We spotted ADC's TMT but were not able to see them and presuming (correctly) that they were having b'fast somewhere, we proceeded.

The road past Bhalukpong is maintained by the BRO and they are always at work on it. I do not envy those guys, they make the road and it gets washed away by the rain, else the mountain under it gives way taking the road with it or the soil above slips covering the road. I do believe that this road was initally built by the Chinese when they illegally occupied it in the 1960's. Knowing Chinese quality, the BRO's job would be that much harder.

A little out of Bhalukpong one catches sight of the Kameng river that lends its name to two districts in A.P. and what a lovely lively river it is. Even at the time of our visit, when the flow was minimal due to the lack of snow melt and freezing of the sources, the Kameng had this lovely playful quality to it gushing over rocks with a roar and jumping about joyously as it careened down the mountains. The river keeps the road company for much of the way and is an arresting sight with its colour varying from green to aquamarine to deep blue - almost black in parts - all topped with white foam and spray. I do not think we were able to capture the real magic of this river through the lens.

AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-p1040181.jpg
One of the first views of the R. Kameng

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Another mood of the R. Kameng


With the river for company we drove along that road with majestic mountains on all sides. The sun played hide and seek, throwing sharp bright light on some mountain sides and leaving others in deep shade, sometimes the sun played peek-a-boo with the clouds and threw a diffused light on the mountains. The play of light was mesmerising. The mountain sides here are a verdant green and covered with various hard wood trees, wild banana, bamboo and cane.

AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-100_2612.jpg
Undergrowth of fern and other plants

AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-100_2638.jpg
Cane

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Wild banana above!

Sometimes one comes across small paths that cut through that thick vegetation. Houses here are not built with their backs to the mountain, they do not use the mountain as one wall (at the back) instead they are built with their entrance facing the mountain, the front flush with the mountain side and the rear perched on stilts. Single houses or small hamlets consisting of such houses peeped sometimes making us wonder what it must be like to live in a place like that. Cows and goats roamed freely in the day and were tied up at night. Every house and settlement had loads of firewood neatly stacked for the coldest part of winter that was yet to come. Men, women and children were hard at work with an older child often taking care of younger ones. In spite of the hard work and obvoious lack of prosperity, the people seemed somehow contented.

The road: The road definitely needs special mention. It is at present a single road but the BRO is hard at work trying to make it a 4 lane road (at least in parts). It is tough enough maintaining that road and any attempt to improve it needs to be admired and appreciated. The road is tough to maintain because it is prone to land-slips. Heavy rains which rob it of its top layer. The streams and rivulets are flood often in the summer and monsoon and bridges and culverts often get washed away.

That road is an absolute challenge to drive and is often nothing more than a track made of loose soil and stones, this is the good part. Sometimes mountain streams let water onto the road and then it becomes really tricky for the soil turns into slush with the stones blended in. The problem is compounded by the heavy traffic of goods laden lorries and army trucks. The traffic churns the slush and there is no way of knowing how deep the wheels will sink in, an examination later revealed slush marks upto the rim and a wee bit up one spoke of the alloys. The steering fights you and wants to go its own way taking the car in the direction of least resistance from the slush - often right into the oncoming lorry, even with the steering held straight the car often moves sideways - a bit like a horse performing a leg-yield. The stones and rocks scrape the underbody as one is desperately trying to keep the car on the chosen course. The necessity of keeping away from the valley edge of the road only added to the challenge. The need to keep away from the valley edge was drilled into me by Arun - there is a very real danger that the loose soil may give way and take the car (with us in it) down into the valley with it. The points to remember are - hold back and give yourself enough space from the guy in front, let the vehicle in front pass the worst slushy bits before you attempt to do so; do not follow the tracks of the lorries & trucks, keep the right tyres (sometimes left) on the 'hump' between the tracks of the lorries in front; shift down to 1st and keep the revvs moderate; if you get stuck or if the slush turns into something harder - roll back and try again taking a slightly different track. We made it quite safely through the rough bits and the car took it swimmingly. We only had one heart stopping moment when the belly of the car scraped a rock, we were negotiating a really deep patch of slush just after an army convoy and the belly struck the stone somewhere under the front seats and the grinding noise continued till it passed out the rear. What happened was that I chose not to ride my tyres through a real huge heap of slush fearing that I would lose traction and there was no place to drive keeping that mound to one side so I decided to keep it just to the left of my wheels. To my bad luck, it turned out that the mound of slush was a rock with a few inches of slush on top. Once the rock hit the bottom, I realised what had happened and changed angle to raise my front tyres onto the mound hoping to minimise damage, thank God it worked.

That road is also full of army convoys. If you are stuck behind an army truck(s) the thing to do is follow patiently till the driver(s) find a place they can pull over and let you pass. They did it unfailingly every time. Honking and flashing your lights and trying to squeeze in does not work as the road is too narrow. Wait and he will cheerfully wave you ahead at the first opportunity. Even the civilian trucks and taxis do this. The only guys who seem reluctant to let you pass are the bus guys.

Driving along this road one comes to the Tenga Valley and the town + cantonment of Tenga which are at an altitude of about 1500 m . Tenga valley is outstanding for its beauty with the River Tenga, streams and numerous waterfalls and lush green vegetation.

From Tenga the climb starts in earnest and one climbs to Bomdi La (pass) and the town named after that pass at 2300M after passing Baisakhi which is essentially an army town. A funny thing happened on this bit, Arun was to meet someone in Baisakhi and called to get directions. We religiously asked every sentry on the way whether we were at Baisakhi and were told that it was further up the road. We saw one gate where some soldiers were getting out of a truck, the truck was probably blocking the board and we did not ask the sentry. After driving for several km, we realised that the only gate we had not enquired was - Baisakhi. We then decided to push on as night comes early in this the eastern most part of India and we had a long climb ahead.

We stopped a little after Munna for a late lunch of roti, rice, dal and eggs washed down with laal-chai as the sweet black tea is known in these parts. I drove after lunch and was rewarded with a sighting of a Mithun just after I switched on the headlights. We came upon it suddenly at a bend and were caught unawares, therefore no pics of it. The Mithun is a lot like a cow, its coat is silkier and the face is more regular and not as angular as a cow. The horns are perhaps more curved and regular and the hooves are always white.

After we passed Bomdila in the gathering dusk, I heard a warning beep from the car. I feared the worst and let out an expelative, hands holding the wheel tight, feet at the ready and tensed, I was steeling myself to look down at the MFD to discover which of the warning lights had come on when Arun exclaimed "4 deg. C and there is a symbol before it". I was so relieved, I laughed out loud and informed the others that it was an 'ice warning' from the car that comes on when the outside temp falls below 4 deg c. That warning set off a new game amongst us - a temperature countdown - 3 sets of eyes (all passengers - the driver kept his eyes on the road), would watch the temp displays on the MFD and music system and each half degree drop would elicit a loud cheer from the group, that night we did not see any snow or frost though we saw the temp drop below 0 even on the MFD and the temp on the MFD would be a good 2 deg above the actual temp due to the engine heat.

At one point, we spotted the lights of Dirang in front of us and the road being real XXL wide, we decided to stop and out came the tripod.

AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-p1040194.jpg
The tail light outlines the director of photography, put a camera in his hands and Arun becomes an acrobat!

AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-p1040195.jpg
I do my photography the old fashioned way - use a flash

AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-p1040200.jpg
Lights of Dirang - the pics taken by Arun and Nazim at this location as well as the ones of Barkeshwar convinced me that I too need a tripod!

AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-100_2747.jpg

AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-100_2771.jpg

AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-100_2772.jpg
Is the same thing we photographed last night? Views of Dirang valley & town.

Incidentally Nazim informed me early yesterday morning that there is some software glitch which prevents him from uploading pictures. He has promised to re-load some stuff which he now seems to have done and we can expect that he will start uploading soon. Till we get the real stuff, we will have to make do with the pics from the FZ and Kodak. Night photos taken, we piled into the car and set off in search of the Hotel Pemaling in Dirang. We found it easily enough. The hotel is a lovely old property with a lot of charecter and a charm all its own unfortunately, it is not well looked after and the facilities are pretty bare. I learnt with a shock that the Pemaling is part of the WelcomHeritage chain of ITC.

AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-100_2787.jpg
The tourers outside the Pemaling


AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-100_2791.jpg

AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-100_2790.jpg
Driving through Dirang. Those banners fluttering overhead give a festive feel.


AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-100_2649.jpg
I love those misty cloud topped mountains

AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-p1040182.jpg

AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-100_2644.jpg
Mandir to the protector of the road

AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-100_2637.jpg
Hey slow down - these cornering forces are getting close to 'G' forces.


AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-100_2690.jpg
BRO @ work on road widening


AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-100_2658.jpg

AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-100_2707.jpg

AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-100_2710.jpg

A river and the bridge across it. (Is this the 'Shaitan' bridge?)


AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-p1040185.jpg

AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-p1040186.jpg

AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-p1040188.jpg

AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-p1040190.jpg

AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-p1040193.jpg

Cheers,
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Old 12th January 2010, 22:56   #127
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Amazing! I want more
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Old 12th January 2010, 23:58   #128
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ravveendrra View Post
Attachment 263745
Hey slow down - these cornering forces are getting close to 'G' forces.
@Ravveendrra: Lovely travelog. Thanks for sharing in such detail.

Question: How accurate was the GPS in those areas? I can see it shows one long road, which is probably the case in the inner regions

-genesis
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Old 13th January 2010, 00:01   #129
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Yes Ravvs , you got the Shaitan Bridge pic correct . Its the detour route into Dirang town away from the Army camp ( largest settlement base in Arunachal ) we passed on our return
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Old 13th January 2010, 00:04   #130
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Quote:
Originally Posted by genesis View Post
@Ravveendrra: Lovely travelog. Thanks for sharing in such detail.

Question: How accurate was the GPS in those areas? I can see it shows one long road, which is probably the case in the inner regions

-genesis
The GPS does have the access roads mapped out , however , we reckon it was logged out of GSI surveyed data ( of which era is a question to be answered ) and not by traversing the path. Hence you'll find that many turns would lead you to raging white waters and empty forests,.
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Old 13th January 2010, 01:20   #131
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Another pic from Nameri. Did not see any wildlife on the roads though.
AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-dsc_1019.jpg

AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-dsc_1020.jpg


Nearing Bhalukpung
AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-dsc_1022.jpg


Always Alert. Our Salutations to the Brave Soldiers of the Indian Army.
AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-dsc_1023.jpg

AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-dsc_1024.jpg

The sheer size of the mountains and the gentle flow of the Kameng during the winters...
AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-dsc_1027.jpg

AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-dsc_1028.jpg

AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-dsc_1451.jpg

AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-dsc_1467.jpg

Perspective!
AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-dsc_1032.jpg

AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-dsc_1446.jpg


Something to learn from here? Definitely YES. Have a closer look!
AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-dsc_1448.jpg



And it drizzled...
AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-dsc_1464.jpg


And then it stopped...
AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-dsc_1465.jpg


And then we got a sample of what lay beyond that curve...
AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-dsc_1466.jpg



Was someone talking about Slush?
AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-dsc_1471.jpg

AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-dsc_1472.jpg

AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-dsc_1473.jpg

AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-dsc_1474.jpg

'One Vehicle at a time' bridge.
AP to AP: In search of a white X-mas and found a street party!-dsc_1478.jpg
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Old 13th January 2010, 08:37   #132
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Nice pictures Nazim. Some of the pictures of the landscape with river flowing in between so very much looks like the Himachal Terrain. You will know when similar pictures of mine will come up shortly.
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Old 13th January 2010, 13:14   #133
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its a great travelogue, nice effort guys.

cant wait for the rest of the posts.
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Old 13th January 2010, 16:08   #134
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Nice travelogue Ravvs, Defiantly it will a encouraging travelogue for all. Nice to see Sir Arthur Thomas Cotton’s Photos who is known to be the GOD of Andhra. Nice statistics at your 107 post
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Old 13th January 2010, 16:46   #135
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If I remember correctly, in some topic regarding Laura, you had mentioned that you had installed Petes but generally don't use it in the city driving. You said that you may use it on steep inclines, etc. So did you guys use it (and find it of any use) in those hilly regions?
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