If exploring the remote unknown floats your boat, look no further than the Siang Valley in Arunachal Pradesh. Any further, you’re in China.
The best reasons for visiting the valley are listed here.
Also Read: Ten things you learn while travelling solo
Aane Siang – For the river shaped the valley. Simply put. Unsurprisingly, it is venerated as aane (meaning mother) by the Adi and other indigenous people that populate its basin. Just as mothers are wont to do, she cares and cautions in equal measure. The temperamental watercourse, called Yarlung Tsangpo in Tibet, thunders into India’s largest northeastern state at Gelling to become the Siang. Some 300 kilometres downstream she merges with the Dibang at Sadia (Assam) to form the country’s sole ‘male’ river called Brahmaputra.
Hanging Bridges – Any long-harboured courage goals? These madly oscillating cane and bamboo structures, slung hundreds of feet across the Siang, could be your best shot at realising them. Don’t let the happy locals, habitual of scampering back and forth over these vertiginous lifelines, fool you. The loosely woven foot bridges, while unmatched in workmanship, are clearly not for the fainthearted. As pre-travel research, watch Sanjay Kak’s short ‘In The Valley Hangs A Bridge’. It vividly documents the community effort that goes into crafting and securing one of these thingamajigs.
Kala Apong – A little Dutch courage doesn’t hurt. Although this is not an encouragement to ‘swig and swing’, surely all is (or should be) fair in achieving the afore-mentioned objective? A celebratory drink that flows fast and furious, Kala Apong, a local beer, is drunk copiously at any and every occasion. Made from rice fermented with an herbal concoction, it is green-grey in colour, somewhat sweet to taste, packs quite a punch, and yet leaves imbibers generally clear headed the day after. Time to ditch the BYO tradition, don’t you think?
Rafting Expeditions – Should you seek white-water thrills; the Siang is well-equipped with rapids ranging from Grade I to Grade IV. For the uninitiated, that would be placid to highly hazardous. They come bearing names like Begging Rollercoaster, Big Pongging, Pulsating Palsi, and challenge with frontal and diagonal waves tens of feet high. The punctuating smooth stretches help catch your breath and bring into focus hitherto blurry surrounds. Rocky confines, gaping caves, unspoiled beaches, and precariously positioned hamlets.
Digital Detox – If these words set your heart a-flutter, start packing. I dare say there is no greater pleasure than a zero-notification getaway. You know, the way a break is meant, and used to be? That the ‘no-network’ alerts become increasingly steadfast as you ease into the Siang hinterland is a joy worthy of tears. Ditch that device for birdsong, snaring sunrises, catching sunsets, campsite conversations, crackling bonfires; sounds of silence, even. Should you want to replace the virtual with the real, and choose life, Siang Valley is just the place to make the switch.