Sheela and I traveled to Cherrapunjee (Sohra as it is locally called). I found the village to be one of the strangest and eerie places I have been to. Not from any material threat, but because it was the dry season and all around us were burning fields of tall grass (apparently used as a harvesting technique). The air was heavy with smog—I would say the air was mostly smog—and the air pollution was far worse than Calcutta.
It was dark, despite being the middle of the day when we arrived. There were no trees, either.
Cherrapunjee exists on a narrow plateau, which is part of the reason that makes the rain fall there the second highest on earth (the highest being a neighboring town), as clouds from the Bay of Bengal are forced up the valleys in between the plateaus and deposit rain on their way up.
I remember walking off to the edge of one of these cliffs, and looking down. I couldn’t see anything.
We checked into a decent hotel, which was recommended to us by the fantastic owner of By the Way Hostel (we decided not to stay there—eastern toilet, not attached. I was feeling a little sick.)
The hospitality given to us by the owner of By The Way was fantastic. He brought us to excellent local restaurants, where we had great food.
The next day we went to see the living root bridges, which was by far some of the coolest sights I have seen in India. Along the way we met a few backpackers, including an English couple who were staying at By The Way, and we trekked down with them to see the bridges.
At the moment the living root bridges are still fairly pristine. More tourists are coming however, and that means more plastic bottles and trash. I saw people who were certainly seemed educated throwing their wrappers and trash into the water. It would be terrible to see the consequences of these bridges ending up like so many other things in India: polluted.
We joined other travelers on the way up: an Indian couple from a city in northern India I can’t remember, and a British woman.