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Thursday 24 Mar 2011
Guwahati, India

Back to Guwahati

My flight to Kolkata from Guwahati was due to leave at 7.30pm so, judging by the traffic experience I had coming up here, I deemed it a smart move to head off around 9am.

I went for a local taxi to Shillong for 1,200 Rs and then got a taxi to go cross-state from Shillong, Meghalaya to Guwahati, Assam for 1,700 Rs. Apparently that's the sort of price I should have paid getting up here instead of the 3,500 + 200 tip, although when I later checked the price from Guwahati airport to Cherrapunjee the guy said it was a fixed price of 3,000 Rs. So assuming I went Bus station - Airport - Cherrapunjee, it would have ended up more or less the same sort of price that I got off the bribing cops... Wink

Despite the ongoing road-works, we got back to Guwahati in relatively no time. The road back was typically diesel-fuelled, dusty and hot. Not a great combination and I found I was covered in sweaty soot and had a headache again (I seemed to get quite a lot of these in Indian traffic so I put it down to the diesel fumes). When I arrived at the airport as I looked a right state so had to wash all the gunk off me in the airport toilet.

You can't go through Guwahati without meeting at least one corrupt cop, so, true to form, there was a police roadblock on the way into the airport and an attempt was made to extort a bribe from me. As I was so sweaty & filthy I wasn't in the mood and pretended I didn't understand, and tapped my watch saying I was late for a flight. He let me through and the taxi driver laughed, saying that he'd never seen a tourist get away with that before. I must have given off a threatening vibe Innocent

I bought some Assam organic tea before leaving... after my first taste in the police station in Khaziranga I became addicted and for the rest of the trip Masala tea would become a firm favourite.

As I waited to board my flight, there were rolling blackouts at the airport... this was common enough among Indian airports, and it caused much consternation among the other passengers who were following the Australia v India cricket match during the Cricket World Cup. I don't follow cricket or can begin to understand the rules, but it was a good time to be Irish while in India. Ireland's performance in the Cricket World Cup this year had really raised awareness, within India, of an otherwise unknown country and so while saying "I'm from Ireland" would normally result in blank faces, saying "Kevin O'Brien" (who helped Ireland beat England in the recent cricket match) would receive a lot of cheers!

On arrival at Kolkata around 9pm I had about 6 hours until I was due to check in for my 5.30 am flight to the Andaman Islands. Not really enough time to warrant getting a hotel, so I searched desperately for a place/seating area that I could crash in the airport. There isn't really anything like that in Kolkata domestic-arrivals as it's essentially one big room, so there was nowhere to slip away quietly. Then, as I was enquiring if I could bribe my way into the "Reserved" lounge (normally for politicians etc) I was told that I should should look into the "sleeping room". It transpired that the international terminal (about a 5 min walk away) had a large dorm of 24 beds that can be rented for 400 Rs. Handy!

The dorm was dark, clean and had nice firm beds. Despite the other 23 beds all being full, it was safe enough to sleep here with my luggage as the 400 Rs price tag ensured that I only shared the room with "wealthy" Indians. I had my ear plugs handy incase of any snoring neighbours too. Nevertheless, so consumed were the local poplace with the Australia match that there were 2 TVs showing it at either end of the dorm and it didn't end until around midnight! Gah!

I slept for about 2 hours before waking up at 3...

I didn't mind too much though as from here on the rest of the holiday was going to be low-pressure and relaxing.

In India? I must be mad...

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