On this next part of my India trip, after visiting the incredible Darjeeling and Sikkim, I wanted to go Assam. Going to Assam is a wide objective, as it is a very big state. Thru the luck of random traveler conversations, in some random restaurant in Kolkata, I met some Canadians who had just been to Kaziranga National Park in Assam and said it’s a must see. If you like nature, wild animals and a very relaxed atmosphere, then you should go there. Well it sure made sense to me and narrowed the scope of my Assam adventure to something manageable. Man oh man, were they right!
After a very long train all day ride from Siliguri to Guwahati, and arrival into an intense electrical storm into Guwahati, and a 1 day recovery, I was ready for the six hour bus ride to Kaziranga. I had a place pre booked, and so when the bus dropped me off in Kohora in Kaziranga National Park area, I didn’t see any signs to my hotel. But what I did see was a sign to Bonhabi Resort, which was highly recommended by some travelers I met in Gangtok. So with backpack slung on my back, I walked to Bonhabi to see if they can direct me to my place. But then I realized, I’ll just see if they have a room, even though when I inquired on line, it was sold out..but they had a room, and as it turned out, it was just the kind of place I needed…to chill, relax, recover from some strenuous travel days.
I had a bungalow on the grounds of a very back to nature place, excellent food, and pretty much the place to myself except for some one off Indian families here and there, and the very helpful hotel staff, and attentive food staff. Other than that, I was all alone…and to accentuate all that, there was no internet, no wifi, and I was pretty much cut off from the world. There was a TV in my room, but felt the mandatory need NOT to watch it. I never turned it on the entire time.
So let’s talk about why I came all the way here, for the animal safaris. First morning was the elephant safari riding the elephant and looking for and coming fairly close to the famed one horned rhino, and many of them, such regal and sturdy beasts, as were the elephants we rode.
And within an hour or so, it was over less the memories and photos, and back in my bungalow. As I stayed there all day nursing a back spasm, and I will tell you fellow readers, if you ever find yourself alone such as I was, with no mobile phone, computer, Facebook, etc, and nobody around, be prepared to get to know yourself very well! The highlight of my day other than the actual safari was the Assamese, no English speaking room cleaner who as I lay there on my bed, diligently and meticulously cleaned the room. I was spellbound watching her methodically work, as she hummed a song. I was spellbound. This was real Assam simple life.
Day 2 was pretty much the same thing only this time was a jeep safari, and of course, only me and the driver in the jeep. There was a magical moment of momma and baby Rhino lumbering crossing the road, a sight to be seen. There were wild buffalo, deer, multiple species of birds, but no sighting of the famed tiger that does also inhabit these parts.
And when this safari was over, it was back to the room, the room cleaner did make an appearance again, as I was equally enthralled to watch her work from my bedside, my only real human contact all day. When it was dinner like the night before, made my way to the dining area where gecko lizards graced the walls, my only dinner companions.
I can’t say I was lonely because I felt good about my stay here. But solo traveling like this takes tons of courage, mental stamina, and a very vivid imagination. I was relieved to leave the place with great and memorable memories intact, and head back to civilization as we know it, Guwahati, with wifi, and people. I never did find my original hotel that was reserved, and it really didn’t even matter.
And an interesting note: the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, the famed William and Kate came to Kaziranga the day after I left. I’m sure the place was jumping, but while I was there, I pretty much owned the place!