In search of paradise
A lull in their lives led a bunch of friends on an adventure of a lifetime. Here’s a first-person account of moments of their journey
TAKTSANG – IN SEARCH OF THE TIGER A lot has been said about Bhutan, and honestly, almost everything is an understatement, for it is so much more. Awestruck as I was, I could hardly believe my eyes as we entered the beautiful city of Paro, built on the hill surrounded by coniferous forest. We had decided to take a trip to the Tiger’s Nest early in the morning.
It was a chilly day on the way to Taktsang, a 7th-century temple, now rebuilt after a fire destroyed it in the 1990s. The route was a difficult one and when the rain gods decided to make their presence felt, things got tougher. We started the ascent to the nest, which is placed 10,000 feet above sea level, at around 7:30 am and walked for nearly three hours in temperatures as low as 3°C. I didn’t want to get back from the heavenly abode, but as they say, we have to get back to reality.
JOURNEYING TO THE ABODE OF CLOUDS Our plan now was to get to Meghalaya and get lost there, somewhere over the rainbow and under the clouds! Mayborn, our cab driver, dropped us off at Nongriat and bid adieu. Our next trek was to the double-decker root bridge. How to get there? You just walk down – thousands of steps – and you just walk to an extent you feel you are on a ‘boulevard of broken dreams’. So we started the descent to the double-decker root bridge. These bridges are built using the roots of Ficus elastica, and then they build a pathway over those roots, covering them with sand and laying wooden platforms. It takes nearly 15 years to build one. After a few thousand steps, we came to a standstill as we stared at the long cable bridge we had to cross in order to get to the destination. As we walked, I saw the majestic nature surrounding me, the gushing waterfall beneath my shivering feet and the feeble shaky bridge helping me get to the other side, and all I could think about was – what if I miss a step? We cautiously walked our way through and what a relief it was to get on to the other side. We walked a few more miles and saw the beautiful bridges built by a man with the help of nature. Wouldn’t the earth be prettier if man always thought so sustainably?
CAMPING – A ROOF OVER OUR HEADS On our way back to the top of the hill, we walked under the heavy raindrops sabotaging our road ahead – an uphill task that was already difficult. The heavy rains of the wettest place in the world drenched us, almost killing our spirit. Almost. We ran, we walked, we stopped, we crawled, but we made it back to the top. In Shillong, we met Harsh, whose car we rented during our stay in Meghalaya. The car had an overhead tent. We camped near Sa-I-Mika resort, setting up our tents – one on the floor and one on the roof of the car. Our fortresses were ready to protect us from the stormy nights of Meghalaya. We then set the wood on fire. The rains of Meghalaya are as unpredictable as life. Though we experienced a beautiful sunset and sat by the fire under the starry sky, the storm started at around 2 am, drenching me head to toe as the waters penetrated through the ground tent. I tried to close my eyes as I needed that rest, but, as I tried to get that sleep, I saw Andrew holding the tent, like Hanuman held the mountain. I asked him, “Andrew what is wrong?” He replied, “Dude, the tent is going with the wind.” I got up and helped him hold it as he went out and put the hooks in place. Indeed, the storms of Meghalaya are untamable. As rough as the night was, the sun was the brightest in the morning, as if nothing had happened. Well, what made my morning beautiful was a fresh pair of clothes and a good breakfast with the strongest coffee I could get.
ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL And that was it. Here we are, home again, back to figuring our lives out, earning that money and hoping for another trip to wherever the winds take us.
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