Ailawng to Hawlhhah
The third day was perhaps the diverse walk that we experienced during the trek. We started from Ailawng, passing through the village one last time before we entered the forest again. An hour later we were walking through meadows of waist high grass with a soothing breeze accompanying us as we moved further uphill. We then entered a rocky terrain which finally led us to the Reiek peak, the highest peak of the area.
The view from there was a sight to behold. Saying that it was spectacular would be an understatement. One needs to be in places like these to truly appreciate the sheer magnitude and unparalleled beauty that nature beholds. Something that sadly man has gradually forgotten to value.
The breeze up on the peak was cool and light, freshening us up even more than what a hot shower would. Below the cliff we could see the river snaking across the land at a distance. We were told that during the days with lesser cloud cover, we would have been able to see the shimmer of a lake on the Bangladeshi side at the horizon. But frankly at that point I could not understand the concept of borders. Everything I saw before me was just nature and its bounty, no matter which country it belonged to.
We didn't feel like going away from that place. But we had to reach the next camp site and it was quite a distance away. The route downhill was quite treacherous, with a steep drop on one side of the path, and a steeper drop on the other. We went past amazing rock formations. We passed a tourism resort which had preserved an old Mizo village to depict the ways of life of the people, all of which had changed with the onset of urbanization.
The villages that we went past were so immaculately maintained that I felt embarrassed and to an extent ashamed of how filthy we make our cities. Post lunch, we then walked for another 3 hours, going past orchards and farms and moving into the jungle in the middle of which our third campsite was hidden.
Hawlhhah to Nghalchawm
The night in the middle of the jungle was surprisingly comfortable. But the next day was anything but. Today was what I called in hindsight 'The leech day'. We started our trek with downhill walk for about an hour till we reached a stream of cool, refreshing water.
Our tour guides warned us to be careful while stepping out but we being the naive trekkers that we were just went with the flow. The result? Half of us found ourselves bitten by leeches, resulting in bloodied clothes. Anyway we moved forward, moving uphill from there for a couple of hours till we reached another village. From there it a much more comfortable journey as the road was tarred and the slope quite comfortable to walk. It took us about two more hours from there to finally reach our final camp site of Nghalchawm. This was by far the most comfortable camp site we had had. A stream flowed nearby and we had a refreshing bath. And then, like every other nite, we tucked in quite early.
Nghalchawm to base camp
So the final day had arrived. I didn't actually know what to feel. On one hand, my body was crying out for this ordeal of sorts to end. On the other, my mind was racing, wanting to go on. Confused with my thoughts, I set out with the group soon after breakfast to our destination.
Today's walk was supposed to be quite a short and easy one as per our tour guides Mama and Zika. It was short but as had been the norm during the trek, when they said easy, it only meant easy for them.
After a short walk through inhabited areas, we again entered the jungle. The path however was wider in these parts. After about an hour, we reached a suspension bridge over the river. It was scary to an extent, walking on the bridge as it swayed under the weight of our bodies, with a 200 feet drop into the gushing waters of the river below a very real prospect. It seemed a scene right out of an Indiana Jones movie, as we evaded loose planks of wood, hoping to just reach the other side somehow. Once we did we were greeted with a hour long vertical climb, which almost felt like torture.
However we all made it through. And once that climb was done, we were welcomed by the sight of the highway and a bus waited there to take us back to the base camp.
All of us slept like logs in the bus. Once we reached, we all were handed out certificates for completing the trek. And then slowly everyone said their goodbyes and went their different ways.
I can safely say that it was one of the most exhilarating trips I have ever made in my life. By the time I reached back home, my body was in a pretty bad shape. My muscles ached. My bones felt brittle. But my spirit was stronger than ever. I felt, perhaps for the first time a sense of liberation. I felt that at least for a week at least I had lived my life the way it should. Yes I was back in the concrete jungle. And soon the worries and stress of this life will again come back to haunt me. But now I know that there always is a way to give your body a release. Thanks to YHAI. Thanks to Mama and Zika. And thanks to the group that made me realise that.