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Old 30th May 2018, 15:45   #1
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Default Mizoram: A road-trip

Last leg of the journey:

Time: 1:30 am

We are parked for the night at a petrol bunk somewhere near Jowai, Meghalaya. I was surprised at how comfortable and spacious the backseat of my bolero felt. Pahar on the hand was struggling to get in some kind of sleeping position in the front.


Earlier, my mighty bolero 4wd forced us to stop near Khleriat, Meghalaya with a loud clang clang noise and steering vibrations. I was smiling to myself as I drove into the only garage we could find on a late Sunday evening. No, the bolero was not emitting laughing gas but itís just that I was planning to write glowing tributes to my vehicle and how nothing ever goes wrong on my mighty steed. And here I was at the roadside garage

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The problem was pointed out to worn out propeller shaft bearings and by the time we were done, it was already 10:30 pm. A quick dinner at Rajasthan Dhaba, Jowai (which serves everything from pork to paneer) followed by a quick nap and we were ready for completing our mission to travel from Aizawl, Mizoram to Guwahati , Assam in a single day. It did not matter to us that it was technically not possible as it was already 12:30 at night.


I tried driving but soon remembered the excellent thread on teambhp on the dangers of sleepy driving and drove into a well-lit petrol pump. Before the trip, we had planned to sleep in the car if we couldnít manage accommodation at any place. As we had done almost all the things we had planned to do on this trip, we decided against searching for any hotel and used this rather excellent opportunity to tick the sleep-in-the-car bit as well.

As I drifted off to sleep in the backseat of my bolero, my mind wandered to the past week travelling in Mizoram. It was one of my best trips till date and I tried to point out a single factor which contributed towards it.


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Was it the beautiful sunsets?

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Was it the parks beckoning us to be kids again?

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Maybe the neat and clean villages?

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Or the sleepy towns?

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Was it the rain kissed mornings?

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Was it the shops which have no shopkeepers?

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Its panoramic views?

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The drive which challenges man and machine?

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Was it about the diamonds in the sky?

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Or of love in the night sky?

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Driving into a foreign country?

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Maybe the joys of driving among the clouds?

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Or simply a cup of hot tea on a rainy afternoon?

Maybe it was one of the above or all of them. Maybe it was just its lovely and kind people.

This is an account of our road trip in Mizoram.
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Old 31st May 2018, 12:09   #2
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Background:
It always bothered me that I have never visited Mizoram. I have heard and read about the beautiful places, the traffic discipline, the shops without shopkeepers and the welcoming people of Mizoram. So, after a busy last quarter at office, we decided to visit the place in the month of April, 2018.

Preparations:
I canít thank my friend Mimi enough for helping me out in every way possible. She patiently heard out my plans about our trip to her home state and gave valuable suggestions for fine tuning the same. She translated the following list of words into Mizo which I thought would help me.

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Yes, you are right. The list contains mostly food items. Good food forms an indispensable part of road trips for me. Fortunately for us, the local food in Mizoram was excellent in all the places.

Also, for any person going off into the unknown, the logs penned by fellow travellers provide invaluable information and the same is true with this trip. I went through these two brilliant logs by bhpians amitsethi100 and Secretariat and also another excellent one by my friend Tapas on bcmtouring.com. The links to these logs:

1. http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...-vacation.html

2. http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...n-sisters.html

3. https://www.bcmtouring.com/forums/th...landers.67470/

As in our previous road trips, we did not pre-book at any place which gave us the flexibility to halt wherever we like. We decided to sleep in the car if we were unable to manage accommodation at any place.

Another thing which added great value was a shower gel. It took care of shampoo, soap, face wash, car shampoo and windshield wiper fluid.

Travel buddy:
Pahar, my friend and a man after my own heart.
On our trips, the conversations usually go like this:

Me: Bro, see that hanging bridge over that furious river with some planks missing. What to do?
Pahar: Cross it, of course.

Me: There seems to be something on top of that hill.
Pahar: Letís go find what it is.

Me: This food looks and smells funny.
Pahar: Letís eat and see if it tastes funny as well.

You get the drift

Vehicle:
My trusted Bolero Lx 4wd. Over a period of two years, I have come to love the simplicity and reliability of this vehicle. Coming from a temperamental RE Classic 500, I now appreciate the bolero and what it offers.

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ILP (Inner Line Permit):

Any person outside of Mizoram needs to get an ILP for visiting the state. I was too lazy to get the ILP done at Guwahati and wanted to get it done at the border town of Vairangte. A friend warned me that it would waste valuable time during the trip and this particular information came to me only two days before the trip.
My friend Mimi came to my rescue again. We went to Mizoram house, Guwahati and applied for the ILPs. Though the official time for applying and issuing ILPs is only in the first half of the day (we went in the afternoon), the officials at Mizoram house were kind enough to issue us the same that very afternoon. Of course, this was made possible on a large if not whole part due to Mimiís insistence and request to the officials.
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Old 31st May 2018, 12:42   #3
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Day 1: Guwahati to Silchar (via Jowai, Meghalaya)
Distance: 320 kms

We started at around 8 am from Guwahati after a heavy breakfast at home on a sunny Sunday morning. The roads up to Jowai and even after that are in good condition. The roads near Sonapur are a landslide zone during heavy rains however.

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Excellent roads leading to Jowai

There was a lot of truck traffic on this route which somewhat dampened the otherwise wonderful drive. Also, there was some local festival at Jowai with people putting up red rooster flags on their vehicles.

We had already tanked up the bolero at Nongpoh, Meghalaya and were looking for a fill up of our tummies. We found this small stall after crossing Jowai. Food was good with red rice, pork, dal and chutney for a total of Rs.160 for both of us. We ate some funny smelling raw green leaves as well which the stall owner told us will be good.

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Lunch time

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Break from driving

We reached Silchar at around 3 pm and lodged at Hotel Riya Palace for the night. Even though we had time to move further ahead, we decided against it as we did not have any idea of accommodation between Silchar and Aizawl. I feel the halt at Silchar can be avoided as there are stay options at Kolasib, Mizoram on the way to Aizawl. Some regular travellers drive directly between Guwahati and Aizawl and the driving time is around 14 hours.

I spent a mostly sleepless night while Pahar snored away to glory. Soft pillows, soft mattresses and AC induced coolness on a warm night apparently doesnít bother him as much as it does me. Or maybe it was just the excitement of what lay ahead which kept me awake.
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Old 31st May 2018, 16:36   #4
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Day 2: Silchar, Assam to Hmuifang, Mizoram
Distance: 230 kms

We started early from Silchar and headed towards Vairangte, the border town of Mizoram. We were wary of taking the Hailakandi route and therefore kept asking for the right route on top of using Google maps.

We slowed down near the entrance to Vairangte and tried searching for the place to show our ILPs. Nobody asked us to stop and just like that we were in Mizoram. I think the officials took us to be locals.

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We are in Mizoram!

The roads were surprisingly good and wider than the ones I have encountered in Arunachal Pradesh. The one thing I could notice on these roads was the lack of any honking. If any vehicle saw us in its RVM, it would make way for us at the earliest opportunity. I noticed a biker was tailing us for quite some time and was not attempting to overtake. I realised he was waiting patiently for us to let him overtake us which we did. I remember thinking at that moment that driving here would be quite an experience.

We had breakfast at a Nepali hotel just before Kolasib. The food was great with freshly cooked rice, dal, chicken and mutton. Our first meal in Mizoram set the trend for all the future food in the state during the trip. Also, all the roadside hotels/ dhabas we ate in were equipped with clean washrooms/ toilets. We tanked up the Bolero at Kolasib.

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Breakfast/ lunch at Kolasib

At Kawnpui, we were presented with two roads going towards Aizawl. Thanks to Bhpian Secretariatís thread, I knew both the options were equally good. We took the new highway on the right and planned to take old route via Durtlang on our return leg. We also bought some fresh bananas as well from a roadside stall.

Some pics near Kawnpui:

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From a resting shed in Kawnpui

We reached Aizawl at around 12 pm and were completely flabbergasted by its steep roads and busy traffic. Since it was still early in the day, we had decided to drive on another 50 kms towards Hmuifang.

As expected, there was absolute lane discipline being maintained at all places with zero honking. It was a pleasant scene to see cars jam-packed on the narrow roads and still no horns blaring.

Google maps was not helping my cause of finding a way to Hmuifang. One minute I am on the right direction and the next moment I look, I have jumped way off to some other route. Heavy traffic also meant I couldnít just stop and stop for directions. I think we spent around 1.5 hours just driving around the city looking for the right road. In spite of the heavy traffic, Aizawl city made a favourable impression on us with its clean roads and friendly atmosphere. We decided to stay in the city on our return leg.

The road to Hmuifang is an excellent one with lovely views on the way. A scorpio blew his horn at me while overtaking. Why do I mention a non-event like this? Because that was the only time someone honked at me during the time in Mizoram. Probably a non-mizo.

We crossed places like Aibawk (recommended for good mizo food) and Phulpui (recommended for good views).

Some pics:

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Between Aizawl and Hmuifang

We reached Hmuifang at 4 pm and went to the Government Tourist lodge there. As it turned out, we were the only guests for the lodge on that day. The Govt. tourist lodges in Mizoram are absolute value for money. A huge room with twin beds cost Rs.500 which is a bargain compared to the Rs.2500 which we paid at Silchar.

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Hmuifang tourist lodge.

The first question at Hmuifang tourist lodge was about food. What would you like for dinner? Lunch? Chicken? Pork? In fact, during the entire time in Mizoram, the first question at the lodges would be about food. I loved it.

Although the stated dinner timing at the Hmuifang lodge was up to 9 pm, the staff insisted on having dinner by 7 which was just fine with us. After a quick lunch of noodles, we went to explore the nearby park and cliffs.

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Pahar taking in the surroundings

The road so far to Hmuifang had been good with scenic views all around but it was the cliffs at Hmuifang which made us go wow! The pictures don't do justice to the beauty of the place.

One needs to climb a small hillock going parallel to the road to see the cliffs.


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To see the cliffs

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Me

We noticed a steep descent with some bamboo railings. Even though we wanted to go down we felt the railings would not hold our weight during a fall and decided against the climb down.

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Too adventurous a view point

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Cliffs

A strong wind was blowing as I settled to watch the sun go down. Pahar went off searching for tea somewhere.

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At peace

We retired to our rooms by which time it was already time for dinner of boiled pork, vegetables, rice and dal. Simple as the meal was, it was quite satisfying and I remember eating like a hog.

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Dining room at the lodge

Tomorrow we head towards N. Vanlaiphai
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Old 5th June 2018, 16:55   #5
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Day 3: Hmuifang to North Vanlaiphai
Distance: 120 kms

The caretaker at Hmuifang tourist lodge had informed us of a waterfall at Thenzawl (another 40 kms away) and we decided to visit it. Although, if one is going to N. Vanalaiphai, going to Thenzawl means taking a diversion. There are a couple of petrol pumps in Thenzawl and we decided to tank up there.

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Bye Bye Hmuifang

Our first stop of the day was at Sialsuk. One needs to take a right diversion to reach the place. I will let the pictures do the talking. It is a wonderful place with beautiful views and cool winds.

Some pics from Sialsuk:

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Tiny bolero

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Take a break

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Be kids again

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How would it feel to sit there and gaze at the hills?

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Feels just right

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Walk among the clouds

As we were coming to our parked car, two ladies who have shops at the entrance of the park said something to us. After some exaggerated sign language, the four of us talking in as many as 5 languages and lots of laughter later, we deciphered that the entrance fee is Rs.10 per person. We had some fruit juice after that.

We reached a petrol pump before taking the right diversion to Thenzawl and tanked up the Bolero. There were a lot of local dhabas nearby and we had our breakfast in one of them. Rice, dal, boiled vegetables, pork and one great tasting chutney. This chutney is made from chilli, onions amongst other things and at once became our favourite. We also bought some sticky rice and some sweet made from coconut from the dhaba.

A funny exchange occurred as Pahar wanted more of a particular vegetable and the dhaba person kept repeating the name of the dish in mizo. Thinking that Pahar was only asking the name of the vegetable, he also brought the raw leaf to show the origin of the dish. In the end, Pahar gave up and ended up eating more pork. How? Because I said more pork in mizo (Remember my quick guide to key words like pork, chicken etc.?)

Thenzawl is known for its handloom and handicrafts. We asked around for the waterfall and another funny exchange followed. This time Pahar chose a group of women who were busy weaving for his enquiries. He tried showing waterfall by dropping the water bottle he was carrying from a height and a big slpoosh sound as it descended. Pretty intuitive, I thought. In the end, we didnít see any waterfall but it didnít matter. We got the whole room rolling in laughter.

We turned back from Thenzawl and continued our way to North Vanlaiphai. The road on this route, in some parts is under construction. And in some parts, there are lovely, narrow roads which forces you to pay all attention to the road.

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we rested wherever we liked

As we approached N. Vanlaiphai, we saw the first plains of Mizoram. I am sure the place would look heavenly once the sowing season is over.

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Rice fields

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Rumble along

We reached N. Vanlaiphai at around 4 pm and enquired about the tourist lodge which is located on top of a hill. As in Hmuifang, on that day we were the only visitors there. Mr. Ngahktea, the kind caretaker of the tourist lodge asked us our favourite question- what would you like for dinner? With too much meat going in our system over the last two days, we opted for chicken.

As we moved the luggage to our room, the heavens opened up with strong winds. It suddenly became cold. We could see clouds and mists come slowly over the town and also into the tourist lodge compound.

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Tourist Lodge, N. Vanlaiphai

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Tea on a rainy afternoon

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Misty

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Clouds engulf N. Vanlaiphai

It was almost dark by the time the rains had subsided. Pahar and I took a walk around the small town. It was 6 pm and all shops had closed down. We imagined everyone warmly cocooned in their homes with their families having dinner. Somewhere a song was playing which seemed perfect for the cold, chilly, wet evening.

There was no electricity that night in the tourist lodge. After a lovely candle lit dinner of rice, dal and chicken, we retired to our lovely candle lit room. Pahar and I mutually agreed that we are not each otherís best company in such a setting.

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Our candle lit room

Tomorrow, we drive to Champhai (or so we plan).
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Old 9th June 2018, 13:48   #6
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Day 4:
North Vanlaiphai to Hnahlan
Distance: 200 kms

We planned to stay at Champhai for the day but ended up driving further 70 kms to Hnahlan. But more on that later.

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Gearing up for a long days drive

The route from N. Vanlaiphai to Champhai is one which is not generally taken if one is travelling from Aizawl. Our route for the day looked like this: N. Vanlaiphai- East Lungdar- Biate- Chawngtlai- Champhai- Hnahlan.

The road till Biate is in very bad condition and the going was slow. Things improve slightly after Biate.

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Leaving N. Vanlaiphai

Earlier, Mr. Ngakhtea very prepared a full course meal for breakfast for us. This was a very good decision as the number of eating options is next to non-existent on this route. The room rent was again Rs.500 for the night. Truly value for money.

We crossed many neat and clean villages on our way. A lot of public toilets shows the commitment towards cleanliness of the villages. In every village, the most prominent structure is the church. Also, one would find kids playing football and volleyball everywhere.

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Enjoy the drive

We were stopped by OIL people for one hour who were doing some research work before reaching Chawngtlai. There are lots of ginger cultivated hills on this route.

Some pics near Champhai:

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Let the light shine upon you always

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And you too

We reached Champhai at around 4:30 pm and went to Hotel Chawngthu which was suggested by Mimi. It is the best private hotel in Champhai, which is quite a busy and bustling little town. However, Pahar and I decided not to stay at the hotel as it was located in the heart of the market (which is not at all a bad thing but just reflecting on our preference) and more importantly because we were spoilt by the awesome locations of the Hmuifang and N. Vanlaiphai tourist lodges. So, off we went searching for the Champhai tourist lodge through numerous twists, turns, ups and downs of the town. Finally, we reached the tourist lodge and were disappointed at rooms not being available that day.

As we were breaking our heads about our next plan of action, a place called Hnahlan came to my mind. It is known for its grape plantations and winery. I had read about Hnahlan and at the planning stage was in two minds whether to visit the place.

I asked the manager of the Champhai lodge if Hnahlan has a tourist lodge to which she replied in the affirmative. Ms.Nguri went the extra step and booked us in Hnahlan tourist lodge and also gave her contact number for stay at Champhai in the future. I was also put on line with the manager of the Hnahlan tourist lodge and after asking about the number of persons, the second question was about our dinner menu

Ms. Nguri informed us that it would take further 2 hours to reach Hnahlan and wished us safe journey. A gem of a person who would help us in the coming days as well.

It was getting dark by the time we started from Champhai and we were pretty tired even before reaching Champhai. However, the road to Hnahlan (approx. 70 kms from Champhai) is an excellent one with narrow but smooth tarmac.

Some pics while exiting Champhai:

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Rice bowl of Mizoram

Pahar and I were really hungry as the only food we had was the breakfast at N. Vanlaiphai. We were both irritable and kept bickering with each other. Looking back I find the situation quite funny. After driving for 2 hours, we reached a bridge with a signboard saying welcome to Hnahlan tourist lodge. We looked around but saw no entrance way or gate (Hnahlan is another 15 odd kms from this point and this signboard confused us).

With our hungry tummies making louder noises than the DI engine, we marched on in the dark for any signs of civilisation. Pahar started prophesying a night in the bolero

Finally, after what seemed like infinity we saw the welcoming lights of Hnahlan glittering in the distance. After asking about a dozen people on the way (we didnít want to get lost. Not at this late hour), we finally reached the lodge at around 9 pm. The first order of the day was food and the caretaker had a lovely dinner of rice and chicken ready for us. After gorging on the food, we retired to our rooms with a lovely view of the lovely Hnahlan village.

As in Hmuifang and N. Vanlaiphai, we were the only guests at Hnahlan tourist lodge that night It soon started to rain heavily with strong winds and I tucked myself in bed under a warm layer of blankets feeling very happy about the day gone by.
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Old 11th June 2018, 19:30   #7
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Day 5: Hnahlan

We woke up at a leisurely place as we would be staying at Hnahlan that day. Mimi had told me of household wineries which make grape wine in the village. We got some grape wine for our friends and family from one such household.

The rains previous night had made everything fresh and green. We could see from the tourist lodge little kids busy with football right from morning.

Some pics:

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Sleepy Hnahlan from our balcony

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Hnahlan tourist lodge

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Rain kissed

The caretaker (I am sorry I did not get your name) told us that the Myanmar border is around 7 kms from Hnahlan. We never got around to seeing the border from Hnahlan but we set out anyway.

We were on the Hnahlan- Champhai road when we saw a mud road running on the opposite mountains. We later found out that it leads to Selam. We soon found an entry to the mud track and saw a board welcoming us to Tualcheng village around 15 kms from that point. With nothing else to do, we took the mud track.

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Mud track beckoning us

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Off we go

We came across entire hills covered with ginger cultivation. The cleared hills with the red mud tracks made for an entirely different landscape. There were sacks of ginger waiting to be loaded on trucks and we inspected one such sack to confirm it was indeed ginger.

Some pics enroute Tualcheng:

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Ginger cultivation

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Bolero 4wd

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Cant have enough of this landscape

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A hut for cultivation work

The road looked a little challenging especially with mud caused by the overnight rains. A good time to try out the 4wdís prowess. We had to engage 4*4 on some tricky inclines where 2wd had kept the bolero sliding and slipping. One thing we noticed was that almost all bolero pickups we came across in Mizoram were 4wds.

We came across two young guys near a small waterfall who were plucking something from a tree. They were from Tualcheng and joined us for the ride to the village. Once in the village, they went out of their way to show us the village- their mizo school, english school and a park. All this while, we never understood each otherís language yet somehow we got along just fantastically.

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Tualcheng village

We went to the only eatery in the village (we were hungry as we didnít have any breakfast) Since we didnít understand what was on offer, the owner went ahead and gave a sample of the menu. First up was rice soup with some tough noodles. Next was some snacks and eggs. I asked for Chaw (meaning rice in mizo) and we got chow-mein which was not bad at all. We topped it off with some soup and boiled eggs.

We drew a lot of curiosity from the villagers of Tualcheng as the small eatery was filled up with people and kids asking us something or the other. One kind person who spoke English translated their queries and our answers for everyoneís benefit. Soon, it was a really lively discussion.

We were particularly impressed with the school kids looking smart in their uniforms and running around happily.We turned back from Tualcheng and the sun had dried up most of the muck and slush. 4wd was not needed on our return journey.

The hills around Hnahlan were covered with grape cultivation. On our way back, we were hailed by two ladies who were working in one of the grape plantations. We gave them a lift to Hnahlan. They thought we were mizos and happily went about talking and chatting with us. Pahar was determined to find the way to Myanmar from Hnahlan and kept asking about the border route. As with Paharís most queries so far in Mizoram, the answer was lots of good natured laughter. Once in Hnahlan, they invited us for tea in their home which we happily accepted.

We decided to drive on further for 7 kms and see if we could locate the border. We drove for another 25 kms towards Khuangphah. The road is excellent and the views even better. We didnít see any border but we were not complaining.

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Lovely village after crossing Hnahlan

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Drive among clouds

It was around 4:30 pm and the only food we had was at Tualcheng. The caretaker of the tourist lodge prepared a lovely meal of rice, dal and chicken for us. By this time, it was already dark and Pahar and I went strolling on the streets of Hnahlan. The streets were full of kids of all ages playing football. Service was going on in the beautiful church and we heard some lovely music coming from it.

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Good night Hnahlan

Tomorrow we go to Zokhawthar, the border town of Mizoram.
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Old 13th June 2018, 13:11   #8
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Day 6: Hnahlan to Zokhawthar and back to Champhai

Total distance: 120 kms

We started at around 9 am from Hnahlan for Zokhawthar on a bright sunny day. The caretaker prepared a heavy breakfast of rice, chicken and dal and wished us Godspeed. The hospitality at Hnahlan tourist lodge is something to be experienced.

We were still not sure of where to stay for the night. We planned to stay in Zokhawthar but ended up returning back to Champhai for the night.

We tanked up at Champhai and tried finding our way to Zokhawthar. Not for the first time, we messed up the directions and at one point drove into a personís lawn . With the owner smiling, we backed out sheepishly and went on our way.

Zokhawthar is around 25 kms from Champhai and road widening is going on at many places. After a bumpy ride of around 2 hours for those 25 kms, we were suddenly at the bridge which separates India and Myanmar.

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Driving into Myanmar

One thing I had missed mentioning was the sheer number of a particular Myanmarese bike/ scooter we saw in and around Champhai.

People seemed to be going freely about and we didnít see any checking etc. at the entrances of both India and Myanmar. Still, as we were driving we decided to make an entry in the police outpost on the Indian side and drove across the bridge to Myanmar.

The first adjustment in Myanmar is to drive on the right sand side of the road. It felt a bit weird to be driving on the RHS and it seemed to me that I was concentrating on keeping my bolero on the right side even if the road was narrow/ empty. I dutifully stuck to the RHS even if that meant going over huge potholes. I was that preoccupied.

The situation becomes a little bit funny when one encounters a Indian vehicle coming from the other side. Imagine a narrow road and a Assam registered vehicle approaching a Mizoram registered vehicle. Should we follow the countryís rules and stick to the RHS or as Indians stick to LHS? I know the legally correct answer but it was fun guessing each other.

We spent some time in the nearby market place of Myanmar. Language is again a problem and it is difficult to make each other understood. We bought a lot of eatables like wafers, rice cakes, munchies etc. for our friends and family back home.

We enquired about the way to Rih Dil lake but were met with blank stares. We spotted a signboard which had a picture of the lake and its local name. Armed with that, we rumbled along towards the lake.

Some pics of Rih Dil lake:

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Rih Dil

We spent some time at the lovely heart shaped lake and then proceeded to have some fried rice at the nearby restaurant. The lake is of significance to the Mizos and on our day of visit a lot of visitors had come from Champhai.

A man travelling with his wife and kids offered his Myanmarese scooter for a test ride. We declined as the wife was already seated with her kids.

While we had planned to stay at Zokhawthar, we decided to head back and try our luck at Champhai. This would save us around 2 hours of journey to Aizawl the following day.

On our return journey, the road started looking unfamiliar and upon enquiring we found that we were indeed on the wrong road. We were pointed in the right direction and even this road was a new one. We were driving on the Melbuk- Hrualkawn road which is above the road we travelled on our onward journey to Zokhawthar. It is a mud track at present but a better drive than route we drove on the onward journey to Zokhawthar.

It was evening as we reached Champhai and it was time to face Ms. Nguri, the manager of Champhai tourist lodge. She had specifically told us to call beforehand for booking accommodation at the lodge and yet here we were arriving unannounced for the second time. Well it was time to man up and face the music. I sent Pahar for making enquiries and stayed back pretending to click pictures of the lovely lawn of the tourist lodge.

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Champhai tourist lodge

As expected, Ms. Nguri gave us an earful like we were two delinquent kids. Please note that it was more to do with concern for us than anything else. After that, she offered us a lovely double bedded cottage with a view of rice fields in the distance.

We went for an evening stroll in Champhai and found almost all shops closed. It was a Friday. We went to Hotel Chawngthu and ordered some sandwiches and french fries. The fries were very good.

I was happy to note that I was not really getting out of breath while walking up and down the steep inclines of Champhai. We had dinner at the lodge and went to sleep grateful at having managed accommodation at the lodge.

Tomorrow, we return to Aizawl but via the normal route.
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Old 13th June 2018, 16:26   #9
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Day 7: Champhai to Aizawl

Distance: 190 kms

I was in a dilemma as to where to stay in Aizawl. Mimi suggested Hotel Chief and Hotel Regency for Aizawl. My primary concern was parking space for my bolero. I was not worried from a security view point but about creating a nuisance trying to park in the crowded streets of Aizawl. I even thought of crossing Aizawl and staying somewhere else but then I really wanted to see the city also.

Ms. Nguri enquired where we were off to next and on learning we were going to Aizawl offered to book us in the Chaltlang tourist lodge, Aizawl. This was God sent and I cannot thank Ms. Nguri enough for this kind gesture as getting a room at the Aizawl tourist lodge is difficult. With that my parking worries were over and I could fully enjoy my drive. Chaltlang tourist lodge is located in a very good place and has ample parking space.

Our route for the day was Champhai-Khawzal-Kawlkulh-Dulte-Seling-Aizawl.

The road conditions are good till Khawzal are good but expectedly busier than the route we took in our onward journey. Beyond Khawzal, roads are broken at many places and the going gets slow.

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Slow and steady

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Got mud?

Shops without shopkeepers:

One of the most amazing things we had heard about Mizoram is the shops without any shopkeepers. The items on sale are marked with their respective prices and a small box is provided for depositing the money. We came across many such shops selling vegetables and fruits. We stopped at one such shop and bought some papaya. We deposited the money in the box provided and went happily on our way. It is such a great idea based on trust where the owner is free from sitting at the shop.

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No shopkeepers here

We had a heavy lunch at a small hotel in Kawlkuh. The food was one of the best we had in our trip-boiled vegetables, rice, dal and chicken and of course the yummy chutney. A lady waiting at the hotel took lift from us till Dulte. What I especially liked about the hotel was the family members also taking lunch at the same time eating the same food as us.

Heavy rains and wind lashed at us after crossing Dulte. I asked Pahar to make a video but he asked me to concentrate on driving. The rains followed us till Aizawl.

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Winds and rain

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Chasing rains!

We reached Aizawl at around 4 pm and checked in at the Chaltlang tourist lodge. I believe it is the biggest of all the government tourist lodges in Mizoram. We were booked in a spacious double bedded room.

Pahar and I decided to go the main market of Aizawl. We left the bolero safely parked in the lodge and enjoyed being driven around in a taxi.

Aizawl is a busy and bustling city with maddening traffic. But of course, no one honks and in spite of the traffic jams, it is peaceful. We enjoyed walking around the town before it started raining heavily. That did not dampen our spirits much but as the mists seemed to cover the place, the shops closed down. Drenched throughout, we made it back to the lodge with a happy feeling. Walking the streets of Aizawl was ticked on the list.

As Mimi was not in Mizoram, she requested her friends John and Kimi to show us around Aizawl. Another friend of mine had suggested to go to Falkland to get a view of the nightscape of Aizawl city but with heavy rains and mists I had my doubts of seeing anything. I also started feeling sorry for disturbing John and Kimi on that cold and rainy night. Thank you guys for taking time out for us.

We started at around 8 pm in Johnís car and by this time the weather started to clear up. Our first stop was Falkland where the sight of Aizawl city knocked us out.

Some views of Aizawl city:

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Like diamonds in the sky

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Aizawl nightscape

John and Kimi took us around a night tour of the city where even at a late hour people were still roaming around. We went to a place straight out of a movie where the night lights form a shape of a heart:

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Love mountain

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Ghost rider?

We went to a view point called J.F View point and one has to climb up a hill and then a tower. All that effort is worth it as the view is out of the world.

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View from JF Viewpoint

At JF view point, John knocked on peoplesí doors living nearby to request for parking space. And the people actually help you to find a parking spot for your car. If this example of cooperation and kindness is not amazing, I donít know what is

We roamed around the city and it felt wonderful to see its schools, churches and lovely viewpoints.

John and Kimi dropped us off at our lodge after a brilliant tour of the city. We would have roamed around more but I guess the past weekís constant driving was taking a toll on us and we were dog tired by the time we crashed in our beds.

Tomorrow, we drive to Guwahati. At least, that was the plan.
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Old 13th June 2018, 16:48   #10
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Day 8-9: Aizawl to Guwahati

We were able to start from Aizawl at around 9 am. Being a Sunday, everything was closed in the city and the streets were free from traffic. Even the petrol pumps were closed.

I wanted to travel on the old road to Aizawl via Durtlang but ended up going by the same route we had come. This was only because I could not find the old highway on google maps.

With more than a tinge of sadness, I said farewell to the beautiful city of Aizawl. Being a Sunday, the entire stretch up to Vairengte was empty with an occasional truck or sumo for company.

We had lunch at the same Nepali hotel in Kolasib. Soon, we reached Vairengte and said bye to the wonderful state of Mizoram.

We crossed Silchar at around 2 pm and were positive about making it to Guwahati that very day.

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Tea break

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My humble beast

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Storm clouds gathering

Heavy rains, truck traffic and winding roads near Sonapur, Meghalaya slowed our progress. I could hear a low metallic sound coming from underneath the vehicle but could not stop at that time. Also, we could see the beginning of landslides as rocks and muds began their downward journey onto the road. A week after our trip, there were reports of the road being blocked due to landslides. We were lucky in that manner.

After the rains subsided, we took a look at the underbody of the bolero but couldnít see anything amiss. Honestly though, we had no idea what we were looking for.

The low sound soon became a loud metallic banging noise and my steering started vibrating like one of those vibrating combs. We were still far away from Guwahati and with the steering wheel giving me a massage, we started looking for a garage. Being a Sunday, the whole place seemed to be shut. We finally found a lone garage open and drove in.


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Little mechanics fiddling with the bolero


Day 9: The final drive

I woke at around 5 am after a surprisingly good sleep in the bolero. After freshening up, I took the steering wheel for the final drive of this trip. We discussed about driving to Karbi Anglong via an internal route but I guess we had had enough adventure for one trip and drove non-stop to Guwahati instead.

Pahar had to join his office in Diphu the same day and as I dropped him off at the railway station, he said ďSo, when are we going to Dzukhou Valley?Ē
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Old 13th June 2018, 17:22   #11
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Thread moved to the Travelogues section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 13th June 2018, 20:11   #12
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This trip log is nothing but magic! You have cast a spell on all of us!
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Old 13th June 2018, 20:12   #13
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Lovely Travelogue!

Looks like your friend & you had an exciting adventure exploring Mizoram. The landscape looks beautiful.
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Old 13th June 2018, 21:48   #14
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Superb travelog Gunin! Rated 5 stars. North East has so many places that we need to visit. Please keep traveling and sharing!
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Old 14th June 2018, 09:25   #15
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Simply Awesome Gunin.How are the road conditions generally?
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