Luck saw that I had bagged ‘the last’ seat on the bus. Number 30. In the back corner – a window seat, perfect for dreamy landscape watching whilst running dialogue through my head.
We set off just after 1.30pm. There was a spare seat on the bus which happened to be my neighbouring seat. Tucking my head down I brought my hands together with the crowd. The entire bus prayed out loud – I’m assuming for a safe journey, and for us to all arrive in good health – I prayed that nobody would take the spare seat and that I would be able to bag some shut eye.
We bumped around, the Naga lady infront of me was literally sitting in my lap. My legs were strategically placed either side of her chair so that the next bump wouldn’t sever my legs off at the knees.
Two and a half hours later, we reached Dimapur. A young couple got on. Now this is the point in the Bible were God teaches me about selfishness and greed.
The couple made a beeline for the vacant seat. Note: two people, one seat.
Squashed up against the window, being elbowed left right and centre, the young girl, who poked my left boob to insist I take a sour fruit that, when bit into, smelt like the morning after an over indulgent night on Lambrini’s finest, leans over me, wedges her elbow in my groin and spits out of the open window without a word of warning or an apology.
You may or may not be familiar with Asia’s urgent necessity to rid bad spirits from their bodies via violently conjuring up saliva from, I’m assuming the pit of their stomachs by the sound of it. Anyway, all aspects of ‘spitting’ is gross, from the noise to the motion to the mess it leaves anywhere and everywhere they insist on performing such a task. Especially when there’s a bus load full of people and you have nowhere to hide. The best solution I’ve found is headphones on, eyes closed, dream of pink flamingos on whitewashed beaches.
At around 7.30pm we stopped at services in a place in Assam – I’ve committed to not looking at the map as my 42hr bus journey from Bayan Olgi to Ulaanbatar taught me that checking your estimated ETA every hour does not make your journey any quicker – nor any more comfortable, and in fact, the only thing it’s good for is setting you up for disappointment. I bought some nuts, some bananas and sat an had a cup of tea with a lovely Nepali lady who’s lived in Assam for 26 years.
I began to write a post about how overland travel trumps flying. That was it. I jinxed myself. For the next 9hrs I was crushed in the back seat, the chair in front of mine balanced on my knees, a man stretched out on the seat next to me ploughing me even further into the corner. The road only got worse. We bumped and crashed and swerved til 5am when we pulled into Mon town. I was dirty, tired, miserable and angry.
I had already decided I wasn’t going to like Mon before I even arrived, so focused on finding a guide, a homestay and a ride to Longwa Village that day.