cherapunjee, India, Meghalaya

Northeast Indian adventure, part four: Cherapunjee, the wettest place on earth.

July 9, 2016

MORE RAIN PLEASE.  It’s not wet enough here.  We just love the rain.  Said no British person ever.  Although when the chance of visiting the actual wettest place ON EARTH arises, it’s a different story.

We left our lovely little hut at Langkawet retreat after breakfast and the owner, Victor accompanied us on a journey to Shillangjasher, so that we could climb up a natural root ladder!  Shillangjasher village was about 45 minutes from Langkawet. When we arrived, we had to first hike through lush green wilderness. We had to clamber down precariously positioned rocks and put a lot of faith in whatever branches and tree roots we could grab onto.   It wasn’t that far but it was hot, sweaty, steep and super slippery. This set of steps took about 45 minutes for Amy to descend. Not really.

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The walk was totally worth it to discover the living root ladder. Same deal as the living root bridge from our previous blog, only this time the roots enabled people to climb up the side of a mountain. A vertical climb up the side of a mountain is always that bit more adrenaline-y than horizontal walking across a flat bridge, no?
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The ladder was an incredible sight!  A work of art and almost incomprehensibly sturdy!  Like something from a fairy tale.

The view of the valley wasn’t too shabby either!
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The walk back up was pretty fun too. Check out Steve being silly. Ha.

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About halfway back to the car everyone needed to take a little rest. The humidity made it really hard work.  When it’s humid, there’s too much moisture in the air for your sweat to evaporate from your skin.  Because of this, your sweat forms an extra layer over your body which just sits there and makes you feel hotter, rather than cooling you down, like it’s supposed to do.  Your body has to work harder to cool you down and so you become tired more easily.  Your blood vessels dilate to release more heat, sending more blood to your skin and away from your internal organs and your brain.  This is why humidity can make you feel totally out of it.  (See image below for what this looks like)
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Amy managed to spot a tree frog. Everyone else walked straight past this little fella. Amy has good eyes. (Thanks Tom) (No prob) (Note: we write these blogs together)

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After the morning’s activity, we jumped back in the car and began our journey to the wettest place on earth, Cherapunjee.

Tom finally got to tick “drive a car in India” off his bucket list.

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The car horn has a very different purpose in India than it does in UK. It means “I’m coming” or “I’m here so move”.  If you drove around London honking like Indian drivers do, you would get into some serious trouble.  Needless to say  a certain person took full advantage of this.

En route to Cherapunjee, we witnessed this.

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4 in the front

5 in the back

1 in the boot

and a shit load of other stuff crammed in.

Crazy.

Right, so, around 4 hours later we arrived in Cherrapunji and as if it were trying not to let us down, it rained. Hard.  Luckily, the rain did not spoil the view of this waterfall

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We attempted to buy an umbrella to protect us from what was obviously going to be a very wet few days, but after trying out a few brollies in a shop and accidentally shooting one across the carpark, we gave up.

Fortunately we were able to take refuge in our beautiful little cabins for the night.

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A very cosy little cabin in a very tranquil, wet area.

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An amazing place to call home for a couple of nights. It was so moody and wet. They call it the Scotland of the north. Unfortunately, we weren’t the only ones calling our cabin home.  Steve had to rescue us from a genuine face sized spider.  There was a lot of screaming and jumping on the bed.

The accommodation was mainly made out of corrugated iron so when the rain came down in the evening it was LOUD. It was magical to be woken up by such a powerful noise. Usually it would be annoying to be woken up at an ungodly hour but this was joyful!

The next morning, it was snowing inside our cabin.  Tiny droplets were falling to the floor, covering everything in a powdery white layer of…wood.  Woodworm.  Yay.  Above our heads and in the frame of our beds, little creatures nibbling and nibbling some more.

Amy: We were due to visit Cherapunjee’s most famous attraction, its double-decker root bridge, which is accessed by climbing down 3000 stairs.  As is the nature of stairs, one is then required to climb up another 3000 to get back up.  Although geared-up and ready to be the sweaty and panting guy at the back, I did have my doubts about whether this kind of a walk was really a good idea for my dodgy knee.  Following advice from my trusted physiotherapist back in Mumbai, we decided that it would probably be too much climbing.  Being the doting husband that he is, Tom insisted on giving the bridges a miss as well.  (We can’t live without eachother). We waved Steve and Sarah off and went on a little adventure of our own.

Our sweet and gentle driver Tums is a man of few words, but we were able to get a chuckle out of him quite easily and he was lovely company.  He took us to see some beautiful waterfalls. Unfortunately we didn’t catch the name of the first one, but it really was breathtaking.  Due to to the start of the monsoon, water gushed across the steps that led down to some huge rocks.  Being daredevils, we waded through and admired the view from the middle of the waterfall.

Tom: Waterfalls had started to feel a bit like temples did in Rajasthan.  Beautiful as they are, you get templed out, or in this case waterfalled out (poor us). Our first stop re-ignited our love of waterfalls, yay!  The true magnificence of a waterfall is best discovered from up close. Hearing the water crash down on the rocks, seeing the constant flow of water, experiencing the assault on the ears. It made me ponder the constant supply of water falling from up high. Where did it come from? How had it shaped its environment? How does it play a part in local life?

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As we headed back to the car, some locals showed up and showed us how it played a part in their lives. Some were using it to wash in. One dude even got down to his pants. The other guys seemed to be washing their dishes or filling up their water bottles.

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As we drove higher and higher, the clouds came in closer and grew thicker.

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We could barely see each other!Cherapunjee_Assam-18 Cherapunjee_Assam-17

Amy: After the falls, we headed to some caves.  I was kind of expecting a big open space similar to other caves we’d visited in other countries.  Unfortunately, this was a crawling through small gaps type of thing, which is a total no-no for me.  Despite Tom shouting “It’s ok, there are old people in here”, memories of my year 5 trip to some adventure resort where we had to slide through a muddy tunnel came flooding back.  Instead we had some tea.  They call black tea red tea here.

On the way back, even though it was raining cats, dogs and frogs, we pulled over and had a peek at this moody graveyard. It sat on top of a little hill for all to see from miles around. It’s nice to be pulled out of your (dry) comfort zone sometimes so you can capture a shot like this.

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Tom: One thing about travelling solo is that you get to stop and snap pictures whenever you desire. We loved travelling with Sarah and Steve, but if i’d had it my way then we would have stopped every 2 minutes which would have been highly impractical given the distances we needed to cover in the given time. It would have also been a little frustrating for everyone else, I’m sure. Amy is used to it though. Such a good wife. Thanks Amy. As Sarah and Steve were having their own adventure that day, I used the opportunity to ask Tums to pull over while I grabbed some shots of some locals.

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The colours of the buildings in this part of the world are beautiful.

India seems to have it’s own colour palette for painting the exterior of its buildings. Next time we visit we should probably document the colours.

These locals were both friendly and excited to see me.

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We spotted some smoke on the horizon, so we took a walk to see what was happening.

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We discovered a couple of ladies wrapped up in plastic bashing rocks.Cherapunjee_Assam-12

Still no idea what they were doing it for, but this dude decided to hold one of the rocks up for the camera. Sadly the language barrier round these parts was unbreakable. Our guess was that they were making charcoal.  It stank of fumes, so we didn’t hang around for too long.

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The drive back to the cabin was stunning. Here are some of the sights.

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These boys are sporting the local interpretation of a rain coat.Cherapunjee_Assam-8 Cherapunjee_Assam-7

The food we had been eating, although incredible was getting a little samey. Dhal, rice and veg almost three times a day. Power food. Perfect to help provide the energy needed for the locals to tend to their manual labour, but we were really craving some new (old) flavours. Luckily for us, a restaurant which seemed like the only one for miles sat on the horizon. Orange Roots was an authentic south indian restaurant serving dosas and thalis. HOORAY!! Really, really good food.

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After our feed we decided to walk back to our accommodation and got really wet.

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It was really fun to be walking in the rain. We threw our bags under our coats and decided to take the shortest direction to get to our hut. The shortest direction didn’t work out for us as there was a river which had been obscured by a hill. No worries though, we were happy being wet and had nowhere to be, so we turned back and found a different route. Nice to get a little lost sometimes. No good getting annoyed.

It also didn’t matter that we got DRENCHED because we had an open fire in our room.

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Posture!!

The dude in this photo was so nice. He was also well prepared for the rain. We spent the next few days looking out for this pink number, but alas we could not find one as good.
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1 Comment

  • Reply MummaChris July 11, 2016 at 6:50 pm

    Nice……………..and probably the longest blog so far. Biggest blog, bestest blog……doesn’t matter. Soooooooooo good to see you xxxxx

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