I've finally started discovering my country. If you've been following me, you'll know that I've just come back for Meghalaya, a most wonderful and magical land. OK OK, it isn't all wonder and magic and especially not so for the people who live there. As usual it is a question of grass being greener. and to me the grass is definitely greener in Meghalaya.
I joined a tour group, a very focussed tour group run by one of my students, Vinod. Vinod feels very strongly about sustainablity and has put his future where his mouth is, has followed his passion through some pretty dark times and come out with an even stronger mission. Look him up at Journeys with Meaning.
So we land at guwahati and drive to Shillong, (a terribly crowded city the highlight of which is the police bazzar), pass through Shillong and drive further to Mawphlong. Mawphlong is a lovely little village, and in the valley is a homestay called Maple Pine. Maple Pine is run by James, an Indian married to a Khasi lady who cooks the most amazing food. James is no slouch in the kitchen either, his drunken chicken drove me to raptures and his home baked bread had me cheating on all type of diets. But I wasn't there for his cooking. I was there for what he has done and is still doing at Maple Pine.
James is a completely hands on person. He bought the land as a clean slate and one by one, I'm assuming painstakingly, built each of the structures on the land. Right now there are 5 complete "homes" and 1 that is in the process of completion.
All the homes have the same essential the wood frame construction technique, with pine planks overlapping each other and attached to the studs. What is really cool though is that each home has a unique architecture and you can see the expertise growing with each build. All electric and plumbing services have also been done by James.
We had a lot of fun at James' place, 5 of the 9 days were spent with him. Cycling around the villages (46 kms, back and forth).
Camping for 2 nights in a valley next to a river. Trekking to see the living root bridges. It was all an experience that I wont forget. I was usually up by 5 and watching the sunrise over the mountains, would take a walk to the nearby hills and be back by 7:30 for breakfast.
All in all I had an awesome time. and now for the main portion of the trip; the reason I was there in the first place. James is still building and improving on the place and I'm most interested in having a workshop around building wooden structures. The idea of helping James and learning a pot load of stuff really appeals to me, So if it makes sense to you then do drop me a message