Monday, November 21, 2011

Monday November 21

Left Iora Lodge around 8:20 AM after a large breakfast. Aditya had made chicken biriyani and korma for us to take on the road, what a nice touch.

The lobby area had an interesting array of trusses, most of which were bamboo poles.

Mr. Guha said everyone was checking out today but there will be more guests coming in the afternoon. Everything and everyone was wonderful at Iora retreat except for the one unfortunate incident with the noise generated by the construction and the inability of the personnel to do anything about it.

The road to Manas went via Tezpur and we crossed the Brahmaputra. It is a huge river but there was patches of dry river bed in the center.

The road was under construction and had some really bad patches. We ate our packed lunch at a stop around noon. The road from the Guwahati turn off was even worse, it is under construction for a 4 lane highway.

We were running very late and decided to skip formal lunch and drive straight to the lodge. Nayan, our contact for Manas met us at the wayside were we were supposed to have lunch and briefed us on our itinerary. He didn't appear anywhere as enthusiastic or informed as Somnath.

We finally came to the Bansbari Lodge at 4:00 or so. It is located right at the entrance to the park where the elephant safari starts from.

My first impression was a stark, dusty and lonely building managed by a Mr. Dutta who was waiting for us and left for the night for his family home after making sure we would be properly settled in.

The staff appears to be very friendly and helpful. Khiru, was one such person ever attentive and always with a smile.

After a cup of tea/coffee we went for a short walk and talked with the guard at the entrance.

Apparently the Jeep safari is the best way to see animals since it goes way into the jungle and stays out after dark and spots animals by the spot light. I am looking forward to this.

Our Tata Docomo SIM does not work here anymore and of course I had figured out by this time that my AT&T SIM is not going to work anywhere in Assam. Manoj loaned us his BSNL SIM which is allowed to roam only on Cell One and the signal is extremely intermittent.

There is no wireless at the lodge either. A rather unique experience for me and a test of my ability to survive for 3 days without any Internet or cell coverage. I hope I make it, this is a first for me since I got my first GSM phone in September of 2003.

There is only two other guests in this lodge, it has 16 rooms. There will be 7 more rooms filled tomorrow. Similar to the Iora, all the guest except this one Danish couple checked out this morning.

It appears to be warmer here than Kaziranga and I expected the opposite being further north and closer to the mountains. We had an early dinner at 7:30 pm and retired for the night by 9:00 pm.

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