Day 32 of the Great Himalayan Drive marked what would be many days of adventurous, and sometimes dangerous driving, into the lesser known after I left Pasighat.
After an hour of driving, I came across a broken bridge with little choice but to drive over a dry river bed. It took another hour to negotiate a rock strewn path, going over a shaky bamboo bridge over a stream and then losing my way before a boy out hunting guided me back to the highway. Incidentally, there are ‘Hunting not allowed’ signs all over but that does not deter locals from using slingshots and air guns to bring home dinner.
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And then came the Debang river, with a raft waiting to take vehicles across. An enterprising family had even set up a kiosk selling aloo puri and other food – much needed after an early start from Pasighat. Amazingly the raft, rowed by four, took my SUV and a tractor with a trailer all at one go. And everyone was so patient: When I said I was eating, everyone including the tractor driver agreed to wait and even catch a wink. Life moves at such an easy pace here.
More river beds and forests followed before I reached Hayuliang for a night halt. The Inspection Bungalow had no rooms available, and the only hotel / lodge was not exactly the place where one could stay. Fortunately, I managed a room at the Government run Circuit House, at Khupa, 8 km away. Only a year old, it was still in near mint condition and the best place I stayed at in Arunachal Pradesh. It started raining at night – I was later told this marked the onset of the eight month long monsoons in the region – but no one told what challenges this would throw up later as I set out on the final leg to Kibithu the next day.
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