An unintelligible telephone alarm call from the receptionist woke us and we sleepily bundled our stuff into a waiting cab which drove across Delhi to the domestic airport. Chris, Rup and Philip had taken the 15-hour overnight coach trip from Manali to Delhi and were waiting for us with hugs and handshakes when we arrived.
We checked our stuff through Spice Jet’s process but found we were overweight on luggage. We opted to risk taking my bag of hooks, lures and tackle as hand luggage instead. I was doubtful but Chris said we’d be fine. As expected, the X-Ray wallah’s eyes popped out of their sockets when he saw my bag go through his scanner so the bag was opened. A security wallah asked what on earth all the things were but Chris smiled at him and explained we were fishermen, not terrorists. Bizarrely, the security wallah simply accepted this and we were waved through.
The flight to Guwahati took three hours and we were treated to a spectacular view of the high Himalayas rising above the puffy white clouds. Assam came into view below us and we saw the recent floods that had deluged the region. Vast swathes of land and villages appeared to be in the middle of large lakes of brown water.
We landed at Guwahati airport, met our drivers, loaded our gear onto two jeeps and headed through Guwahati to the hills of Arunachal Pradesh. The drive was slowed by many traffic jams and the drivers explained that bombs had gone off in the city two hours before we’d landed. Many people had been killed, no-one had claimed responsibility and city districts were being locked down by curfews which was creating traffic chaos. We escaped the worst of it, crossed the mighty Brahmaputra and drove through Tezpur on the NH52 towards North Lakhimpur on the Assam/Arunachal Pradesh border. Our drivers chose a drive-to-rule policy and kept stopping for meal/rest breaks every few hours. Whilst we sat grumbling at the roadside, they stuffed themselves at every opportunity. The roads were in terrible condition and after a spine-jangling eight hours, we arrived at midnight and checked into the Maple Leaf hotel. A meal was prepared and beers cracked open to wash away the grime of the trip. To our disbelief, the drivers wolfed down yet another meal as we were eating our first. We couldn’t figure out where they were putting it all.
We fell into beds and slept soundly. Well Rup did anyway. He started snoring before his head even hit the pillow and it was some time before I managed to filter his noises out of my head. A few of my unwashed socks stuffed down his throat did the trick eventually.