Moreh to Imphal 112km
Imphal to Senapati 74km
I met the local Chairman of the Community Board as I was wandering around the streets of Moreh. He had heard there was a westerner in town, and he searched me out. I guess I wasn't hard to find. He was keen to Iet me know how pleased they were to have westerners visiting their town, not many, and mainly cyclists, but he thinks it will lead to better times. The villagers are in the main pretty poor. Most of them act as middlemen for importers. This week it is watermelon being imported. Truckloads arrive first thing from Myanmar. The locals buy them, and line the main street. Mid morning, the little vans begin arriving from Imphal, and the buyers cram the vans fill to overflowing, and drive out of town. Makes for four or five hours of chaos in the main street.....India.
So the plan is to ride about 70 or 80km today. I know there's a hill, and I need to average 66km a day to get to Kathmamdu in time to meet Ju and Pricey. We're on Kolkata time, so it's light at 5am, so getting an early start will ensure getting some kms done before the heat of the day.......great plan.
Im on the road by 6am, but before getting out of the village, I'm in granny gear....and there I stayed for 47km, and eight hours, and it got very very hot.
The road was reasonably quiet traffic wise, but very busy with military. A little disconcerting. Several roadblocks to negotiate, passport details taken at each, and continuous road patrols, heavily armed solders zooming back and forward along the road in small 4 wheel drives, huge machine guns mounted and ready. Seems there are a few baddies in this area.
Finally I reached the top of the hill, and for the first time since Australia, had to put on another layer...it was cold and windy. A major checkpoint, vehicles were being strip searched, and then 17km downhill. I have to say, all the soldiers were incredibly friendly, helpful and chatty.
Also saw a French couple, going the other way. They were running late for the border crossing, so had packed their bikes in a van, and we're making a dash for it. They suggested a town to stay in, but they had heard the hotel was suspect, ( run by baddies) so had stayed at a Christian church. When I got to the bottom of the hill, to the town they recommended, I couldn't find a hotel or
church, and a couple of ladies, who spoke really good English couldn't help me. They did buy me some food and drink, and suggested for safety I needed to go to Imphal to stay. Damn, that's 50kms, and it's getting late. Still there's another town about 20km away.
Every intersection has armed police patrolling, and as I ride into the first town, feeling weary, I stop to ask about a hotel. No hotel. I need to go 24km to Imphal. In the town itself, at each corner, sits an armed troop carrier, with a serious looking guy behind a very big machine gun......hmmmm. Maybe I'll keep going. 7km later, at an intersection, not on my map, I stop and ask the cops which way....24km to the left......still 24km?
It's dark as I ride into Imphal. Makes it hard to find hotels, but the police are always helpful. Some of them are very excited as well. India has just beaten Bangladesh at the Cricket World Cup quarter final. One group want to get photos with me.....because India and NZ are going to play each other in the final........
Finally, I find a hotel. It's a dive, but I've had enough. The host arranges for a meal to be ordered and delivery to my cell. There's tons of
food, far too much for one meal.....breakfast.
Next morning, riding out of Imphal is a breeze. My route follows up a 70km long valley, and it's really pleasant. I feel really relaxed riding here in India. Perhaps it's the lack of pressure of Permits and Visas that I had in Myanmar. The people are not as forthcoming in their greetings, waves or smiles, but every time I stop, they flock. By the time I had bought a drink at one shop, I turned to find twenty or thirty guys sussing out Fiona. Normally one of them becomes spokesman, and lots of laughs are had......CWC hopes help.
Another hill climb tomorrow. I'm rested and ready.