– ODO- 14162 – 14324km
– Location- Riverbank, Purbachak Chaka, East Bengal, India
– Weather- 28-30 Mostly overcast
My experience with rain forests up until this point has been sitting and watching David Attenborough programs in the sofa with my mum. A family favourite when I was young. Once I left Siliguri, the first major Indian city across the border, I hit verge to verge rainforest. The trees were unending, only interspersed with military bases, the entrance to a safari park and the rare village with wooden huts on stilts. Signs warned of crossing leopards and elephants. Very different to anywhere on India I’ve visited so far.
By five in the afternoon I’d already crossed a border and cycled 145km. I felt like I deserved an early rest. I’d been expecting to struggle to camp back in India but with every corner came a new ideal spot. I stopped to buy the two litres of water I needed to cook and rehydrate after a day in the sun. After turning back here and there I dove down into the verge through the green saplings brought up by the beginning of the rainy season. My original path dropped down steeply into a gully so I chose instead a spot under a short tree. With two hours of light left I sat back and wondered what to do with myself.
From my seat under the tree the forest around me was never still. Never silent. The first thing I noticed were the monkeys. Often by the side of the road in packs I was now in their home and their shouts and arguments joined with crashing of trees warping and leaves falling as they chased each other in the branches above. I liked to muse on their story. The brother and sister monkey competing for their mothers attention. The baby learning to climb and swing for the first time.
As I began to cook and tiny brown beetle attached itself to a nearby tree and began a ratcheting buzz with the quality of a circular saw. As I pitched my tent the ground below the new green was a moving sea of ants and beatles and spiders. Sitting out to read I found mosquitoes suddenly took an interest in my exposed sleeves. I lay back in my bivvy to escape them. At 32 degrees and full humidity I sweated into the air mattress dreaming of a little battery powered fan to circulate the air. I slept restlessly.