After the cement works we had a brief stop at Elephant Falls which was full of retail opportunities but sadly short of water. There were far too many steps for people with overworked calf muscles.
Next, onward to Shillong, with another slow but interesting drive through the busy city to reach the Don Bosco Museum, first to explore the exhibits, and then to eat an epic lunch. The drive did, unsurprisingly, provide many photographic opportunities and gave us the title of our next novel The Sign Painters of Shillong.
The museum is on seven floors and well laid out, with touch screen displays rather than conventional labelling. It has a rather splendid central staircase.
At the first available opportunity we rushed to the top of the building to see the Skywalk
which affords great views of the city
and its countless churches
and purple paint.
We demand that all museums everywhere install a skywalk. Campaigning will start now.
Inside the displays covered art, culture, clothing, textiles and jewellery, weapons, agriculture and religion.
This display was in the religions section, and made you feel like you’d accidentally wandered onto a Babylon 5 set.
Whilst being one of the best laid out museums we have visited in India it still managed to show that typically quirky side we have come to love.
There were so many dishes served for our lunch – on the ground floor of the museum – that we have failed to record anything beyond not liking the bamboo shoot dal, finding the Manchurian veg very tasty, and being daunted by the excess.
Between Shillong and our destination we had planned to stop several times, including to buy fresh coconuts, but the traffic was so bad we just kept going. And going. And going, missing the obvious charm of The Lovely Dhaba along the way. As we travelled back into Assam we were strangely relieved to see churches being replaced by temples.
Our marvellous, calm-but-assertive driver was superb, but clearly shattered by the time we arrived, having followed the roadside instruction “Beep, Beep, Don’t Sleep”. The driving was tough anyway, but doubly so after dark, with its combination of slow, people-powered vehicles, reckless lorry drivers, vehicles with no lights on, pedestrians, animals, and general chaos.
Much to our delight, the hotel in Kaziranga stocked a beer called ‘He-Man 9000’.