My Trip From Kohima To Imphal: Part 2.
There was the same routine again: taxis were waiting for customers and I got two front-row seats for myself on my way to Manipur. The landscape in Manipur is really beautiful with lots of hills, valleys, little rivers, rice paddies and pineapple fields – it’s no wonder that it’s called the Switzerland of India.
Again, there was heavy military presence everywhere and one of my fellow passengers told me that the area wasn’t safe (which I have heard throughout my entire trip). Some groups obviously want independence for their province or aren’t happy with the current situation. As I have said before, for me there was no kind of trouble but you definitely get the feeling that something’s brewing in the area. People along the way with their goods in baskets seemed to be very peaceful, but still … when we stopped at some intersections to change passengers, we were carefully observed by the military.
After An Odyssey, I Arrived In Imphal.
The taxi only drove up to a larger village, where I had to change for the local bus again (déjà vu anyone?). I was pretty exhausted after all this changing & delays and during the last 50km this was topped with having to give up my second (paid) seat. The bus was really overcrowded and two small Indian ladies sat down next to me. They hesitated at first and were pretty shy but after a while they giggled and seemed to be excited to sit next to a foreigner. Towards Imphal the road improved and so did the driver; he started speeding as if there was no tomorrow. I can honestly say that I was relieved to arrive in Imphal in one piece.
After a few times asking around for a hotel, I booked myself into the “best place in town” – Classic Hotel. It had working air-con, clean beautiful rooms, a hot shower and even a fridge. There were still a few power blackouts but I didn’t care as long as I had a nice place to sleep.
Imphal has a very interesting market called “Imas” (mothers) markets. All 3.000 vendors were women, which is an interesting concept and as far as I’m concerned, these ladies seemed to be pretty good businesswomen. The hardware section on the other side was occupied by men. The market really seemed like a giant beehive, because there were so many people – who were all super friendly. I bought a couple of materials and a fishing net as a souvenir.
My impression of Imphal was actually really good but there was also a disturbing part: the day I left, a home-made bomb was set off in a market a bit outside of the city and ten people lost their lives. Events like this are not uncommon and I guess that explains the heavy military presence…
The road blockade of the National highway N39 (which btw was lifted – after 92 days – today) was also a sign, that some groups want reformations or changes in the province. The ones who suffer most of these incidents – as it’s always the case – is the common population. Prices were sky-rocketing: food, petrol and major provisions were running short. Ambulances (if needed) couldn’t get through… I guess I was really lucky in the end because I probably couldn’t have gotten out of Manipur easily. But since the blockade is lifted, I’ll return again soon for sure!
Read about the first part of my trip from Kohima to Imphal.