My Trip From Kohima To Imphal: Part 1.
Somehow I think I was lucky that someone told me (or maybe it was written in the local newspaper Nagaland Post) that a road blockade was pending… I can’t exactly remember, but it was reason enough to reconsider my travel plans; I switched on to the Air India website to get a flight back to Kolkata from Imphal (Manipur). But first I actually had to get to Imphal…
Finding Out How To Get To Imphal.
Kohima in Nagaland is laid out on a few hills and public transport departs from various corners of the city – depending on the direction, so it was quite an uphill walk to check out my options on how to get to Imphal. It was a real hustle and bustle around the taxi stand. English isn’t really spoken, and I had enough hassle so I decided to skip this try to check out the big market nearby. It rained cats and dogs and after a while a guy took pity on me and asked where I wanted to go. I then found out that there was no direct bus or taxi to Imphal. I would have to change cars at the regional border, but it still seemed doable in a day if I’d start early enough.
So next day I was at the station at 6am. Definitely too early … I was the only one and the shops and market around the station were just opening. The first taxi was already pre-booked (bad luck for me). The second taxi in line was still waiting for travellers to the border but was more than pleased with my offer on paying the entire middle row (so that I can take pictures on the left and right side).
Off I Go.
It took about one hour to fill up the car with passengers intending to go my direction. And of course everybody stared at me. After leaving Kohima the driver stopped at a road block to get the travel permit and to pay the road tax. The area is heavily controlled by the Indian Army (called the Assam Rifles). They protect the roads because there’s a lot of tension in the area and sometimes home-made bombs are set off or important local individuals are kidnapped for money. I don’t know exactly, but it didn’t seem like that they were going to kidnap foreigners. I still heard a few times (from the few people who speak English) that the area was not safe. What can I say? For me the trip was very safe.
Luckily the driver didn’t think he was Michael Schumacher, so I enjoyed the ride which took me along a winding tarmac road. Now or then the trip was interrupted by earlier landslides. We stopped a few times to let people in and out, always with a few military guards in sight. These guys were all very (!) good looking in their combat uniforms!
Faster than expected the border to Manipur came in sight. The road was in bad shape the last kilometres, with some barriers along the road. At one of these barriers we had to strop and I had my passport ready – of course it was me they were looking for. The officer spoke English, said sorry for the delay but it was procedure that he had to copy my passport. After about 3 km we pulled into the taxi station I was ready to get off at. Now I had to look for another transport to continue my jounrey.
First I needed a rest through. A quick scan of the area showed me a big restaurant sign and I thought that I’d check it out. The food offered excellent vegetarian variety and the owner even had rooms to rent. I would have stayed, but since I already heard about the road blockade, I wanted to continue. I walked along the main road until I reached the border post of Manipur. Everyone seemed to be on their lunch break, because nobody opened an eye when I went in and said “Hello, is anybody here?” One guy looked at me and waved me out as if he was saying “Just go ahead.” So I did and stepped on Manipurs soil.
Here’s part 2 of my trip from Kohima to Imphal.