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Journey to the land of sunrise: Arunachal Pradesh, India | Nordostinidien und Sikkim Reisen - Bild zu Journey to the land of sunrise: Arunachal Pradesh, India | Nordostinidien und Sikkim Reisen - Bild zu Journey to the land of sunrise: Arunachal Pradesh, India


TRIP TO PASIGATH (07.12.2018)

Today was a special day. We were going to take the ferry across the Brahmaputra and I was excited to see what it would be like and what kind of ferry would be waiting for us. The drive from Dibrugarh to the port was relatively short, passing through huge tea plantations. To my astonishment, I recognized a long bridge from afar. My guide said that after 16 years of construction, the end of the ferry service was in sight. The bridge was actually opened in mid-December and this would make the ships here superfluous.

We reached the “harbor” via a temporary sandy road. Depending on the water level, there are different places on the sandbank where you can cast off. There were easy huts by the water and half a dozen ships. Each one could hold two to three cars parked across the loading area, several motorcycles and of course all the passengers, who simply looked for a free space on the ship. The loading process was extremely leisurely and required some courage on the part of the driver. Mon seemed to master this challenge with ease. There was just enough room for our jeep on the deck. And after an Indian while, we were ready to cast off.

The crossing took about an hour and as the water level was relatively low, the captain had to choose a strict route. We sailed more or less along the bridge past large sandbanks, which change their position after each monsoon, to the other side. It was a relaxed crossing, during which tea and snacks were served for cash. Unloading was very quick and the free-roaming pigs seemed to care little about what was happening.

We were soon on our way again, this time with a guest on board who must have cozied up to Teiso on the crossing. That was fine with me, as I had a nice chat with him for the next few kilometers. The area didn’t change much except that there were hardly any tea plantations on this side, but all the more tours. Even toddlers play with the sharp harvesting knives, so natural, wow.

Also new were the pot-bellied pigs or domestic pigs running around everywhere. We found dozens of them everywhere in the villages. Another striking feature was the houses built on stilts. Probably the logical consequence when the Brahmaputra or its tributaries carry massively more water in spring. This brings a lot of rock from the mountains to the plains in this area, which is now collected in winter for building work, as in Simen Chapori. So they use everything that nature gives them.

After the Assam – Arunachal Pradesh border, we stopped in a typical Adi-Gallo village with a view of the distant foothills of the Himalayas to immerse ourselves in the village life of these tribes. The Adi-Gallo is one of the largest tribes and consists of over 100 sub-groups. Here, too, I was fascinated by village life, e.g. the rice flour machine, and the children, who play games with easy things, are cheerful and open to foreign visitors. Truly a warm encounter.

After the village, we soon reached Pasighat, one of the first towns built over 100 years ago, and thus my hotel “Serene Abode”. A short visit to the local market rounded off my fulfilling day.

FAHRT NACH AALO & AALO (08.12.2018 – 10.12.2018)

The next morning we set off earlier than usual. This was because the roads would now deteriorate drastically, at the latest from Komsing onwards, and it would take a lot of time, as they could only drive at walking pace on average. At the hotel, they were just starting to drill a deep hole. A normal umbrella was enough to protect the drill master from the flying stones … Why buy something expensive when it’s easy?

Initially and after the checkpoint, the route went quickly up the mountain on a newly paved road. The sponsor was the nearby Power Company.

We stopped relatively early on this stretch along the Brahmaputra to stroll through another Adi village. It was great to stretch our legs again. Mandarins and oranges grow naturally everywhere in this area. This is also the case here in the village, where super practical mesh carrier bags are produced for sale. What a satisfying activity to weave the inexpensive bags at 100RP (0.70 CHF) in the morning sun. All around, the kids had plenty of space to run around and make a camera lens.

Most of the inhabitants of this area follow the Donyi-Polo religion. This means sun-moon and that everything is attributed to a god (Sedi) who brings forth and creates the whole universe. So all things and all existence are part of this … his hair is the plants, his tears are the water and the rain, his bones are the mountains and rocks and his two eyes are the moon and the sun. Seen in this way, we are all part of one whole … which is in line with my own philosophy, put in a slightly different way. As human beings, we temporarily come from the same source and go back to it, so we are never separate from ALL.

So, after this philosophical interlude, we continued on our way … to Komsing and along the Siyom River on an unparalleled bumpy road. If we had been carrying full cream, it would certainly have been stiff at the end. In between, we stopped every now and then to take a few pictures or walk across a suspension bridge. Its construction was very interesting, all the more so as it is also used by scooter riders. Although there were some significant holes in the bamboo. No problem for the driver, even if there were others coming towards them. With mutual consideration, everything is feasible, respect is the key word.

Of course, another village visit was not to be missed. It seemed that rice wine was being prepared in many places for the coming festive season. For this purpose, the rice husks are roasted until dark brown to black, mixed with cooked rice and yeast and everything is poured into a large bucket with water. After a few weeks of cooking, the wine is ready.

We finally reach Aalo. The sun has already gone and we drive through the town. There is often only light from the stores and car headlights. I was looking forward to the guest house. Maybe it was in the distance from the village so I could have a look around. Tia. We left the village behind us and the night enveloped us again. After half an hour, we stopped in front of a sturdy iron gate and were allowed through. I wondered where I had ended up. It was a large, beautiful estate with a huge guest house. The owner greeted us warmly and my visit to the village was forgotten in an instant. We ended the day in good spirits and enjoyed a delicious traditional dinner in the common room by the open fire.


I was up early as usual and took a tour of the property before breakfast. I first got a picture of it on the balcony. Oh, there was fog everywhere. Hm, must be the low night-time temperatures and the nearby river. I saw streams, a small lake there and wonderful plants everywhere, tangerine trees, mangoes and flower beds.

Today was a day of relaxation and recreation. On the program was a hike along the Siyom River and visits to villages, completely informal.

So after breakfast – an English breakfast with a group of hungry Indians from the south of the country – we set off. After a short drive, we spontaneously decided to visit a nearby village. A Gauer bull (also known as Gayal, Mithun) crossed our path in front of us. This largest representative of the cattle species weighs over 1 ton and can grow up to 3.3m long and 2.2m high. It was a magnificent specimen.

In the village itself, Teiso knew the wife of one of the residents. After a short chat, we walked on. A young man was carving a handle for his axe and others were building a new house.

Mon waited patiently for us and after another stretch on the road we reached the starting point and crossed the river.

On the other side, we discovered a group of Bengali fishermen who lived here on the river during the winter, not entirely to everyone’s satisfaction. Naturally, we were interested and quickly struck up a conversation with them.

We were accompanied by glorious sunshine on this day too. Only now did I realize that it had never rained and never would. The hiking trail was well developed. Along the river, we spotted other fishermen and a group of young people having a picnic. They had brought rice, a whole chicken and, of course, rice wine. Everything was plucked, cooked and shared, even with us. There was an exuberant atmosphere in the square. One or two older people looked after the younger ones, just as they do in the village.

The two of us soon walked on, resting among the mandarins, and finally reached our destination after a few hours. A village was visible further up and so we climbed up the path, unsure of what to expect. The palm thatch houses were scattered all over the hillside and we didn’t see too many inhabitants. At some point we met a group of women who were busy preparing rice wine. We immediately joined them and were able to move freely around the house, which was a kind of multi-purpose room for the village. Here, too, we handed out some sweets to the kids and they really enjoyed it. We moved on and said our goodbyes.

We didn’t get very far. We had barely descended a hundred meters when we found ourselves in a party. Everything happened very quickly and we sat on the owner’s veranda, drank rice wine and ate delicious grilled chicken, fish, pork and beef, accompanied by rice wrapped in leaves. The wine flowed everywhere in quantities. In the house itself, a priest blessed the home and visitors, I was also invited and my face was smeared with a rice paste as a sign. The cheerful mood intensified over time … and I think the copious amounts of wine I drank were the reason for what happened next. The paste was no longer spread gently on my cheeks, no, it was emptied over my head and clothes. They didn’t spare me and after a while many of them were dripping with it, their clothes newly dyed white. Wow, a mega party, I just made sure that the lens glass didn’t get smeared … In the end, this resulted in pictures of great personal value.

Tia, buzzed and happy, we left the party and Mon brought us safely home to the guest house after nightfall.


A little groggy from the previous evening, we set off today. The mood in the car was correspondingly calm. The fresh air did us good as we visited a village. Teiso even managed to chop some wood for an elderly resident. In return, he showed us his home. His wife, who is paralyzed on one side, and his daughter were also there.

By the end of the village, we were feeling noticeably better. Another conversation with a local concluded the walk. We would spend the next 7 hours in the car … the road was similar to yesterday’s, if not a little more challenging. | Nordostinidien und Sikkim Reisen - Bild zu Journey to the land of sunrise: Arunachal Pradesh, India

In any case, we reached the town of Daporijo again in the dark, which was under construction and therefore had countless building sites. My easy place to stay, the Singhik Hotel, with a huge room on the 3rd floor was more than enough for me. Somehow I had the feeling that this floor was being developed for tourists and that the rooms on the floors below were still in a different state. However, after a freshly prepared à la carte dinner and the patience to eat it, it was time for a deep sleep.

TRIP TO ZIRO & ZIRO (11/12/2018 – 13/12/2018)

Wisps of mist roamed the land and the sky. Daporijo was also overcast in the morning hours. This natural spectacle often provides mystical images. As so often before, I took to the streets before breakfast. Here and there, the easy-living inhabitants lit their small fires in front of their corrugated iron huts to dispose of their garbage and do their morning ablutions, such as brushing their teeth, by the warm fire.

We were expecting a similarly long journey today. Accordingly, we set off early so that we might arrive at our destination before dark. As we only arrived in the dark yesterday, we went back a little today to take a closer look at the bridge in the village. We also took the time for a quick visit to the local market.

The jungle along the way was densely forested with lots of ferns, bushes, banana trees, bamboo and giant poinsettias – a real rainforest. The journey first took us up into the heights, where a veritable sea of fog spread out before us.

We moved along the hills in countless bends. It seemed to me that a new valley opened up around every bend. Every now and then it was easy to stop to enjoy the view or watch a tree picker. It was also amazing that at some point the rainforest turned into a pine forest. There were only fir trees like in Canada. It was a very special moment and I wondered how these forests got here.

A tea break in Raga was good to stretch our legs and take a closer look at the poinsettias. In Tamen, we crossed a massive steel bridge that could probably tell a few stories. From here on, the road improved a lot and we made rapid progress.

Tia, we reached Ziro at 6pm, so nothing before dark J. It was cold here. My attached room promised a fresh, if not very cool, night. It did have electric heating, but I was reluctant to use it. Two blankets should be enough. So we spent the evening in the warm dining room of the “Abasa Homestay” host family, enjoying the best food on my tour and chatting animatedly. I only left this warm room with its familiar atmosphere when I was definitely going to sleep. It was too cold in the room before then. Even though I was wrapped up tightly, I could still feel the cold in my short pyjamas. As a result, I only had a light sleep and was glad when it slowly became daytime.


Ziro is located on a high plateau and the Abatani tribe is widespread here. The special feature of these people is that the women used to have their noses pierced in the form of a 1 cm wide wooden plate and also had their faces tattooed. The men buttoned their hair into a knot. I looked forward to these encounters.

When I got up, I had to decide whether to take a shower or leave it for once. I opted for the cool water, which felt about 4 degrees. It was more than an effort for me. So standing completely under the shower was out of the question. It was enough to lather my head and then wash it out, bending my upper body forward so that not too much cold water flowed down my back. As my room was around 6-8 degrees, I told myself that I would be very warm when I got dressed. Well, it was warmer than in the shower. I could hardly feel my fingers at first.

Well, I saw the rising sun outside and it motivated me to take some pictures of the morning spectacle with the fog. To save my batteries, my cameras were allowed to spend the night under the blanket with me. I went for a walk at around 7 a.m. and the grass and leaves had ice crystals on them. So it was 0 degrees or colder at night. The sun was already beginning to embrace nature with its warming rays, a beautiful sight

Breakfast was delicious and the toast with tea was very tasty after my walk in the cold. Then we set off, as we had a full program ahead of us, visiting 4 villages in the area: Dutta, Hija, Bamin Michi and Mudang Tage, then to the Ziro Putu observation tower and finally local crafts and the market in Ziro.

We started with the villages. A special feature are the special speaker’s podiums, where village men’s meetings on important topics are still held today.

If you stroll through the village, you will notice strange arrangements containing feathers, empty eggshells and small baskets. I was told that the village shaman is consulted in the event of illness in a house to check whether the person has been attacked by a spirit that wants to suck their blood. He then swings an egg over the body. If it breaks, a ghost is very likely. If not, the person should be taken to hospital for further examination. An afflicted person is cured by means of rituals and such arrangements are placed outside the house as further protection. A similar one is placed in a sacred place in the nearby forest. The flower arrangements distract the spirit from taking possession as they have been activated by a blood sacrifice (chicken, pig, cow).

We also met the expressive older women with their nose plugs in the villages. As I have already read, they avoid being photographed these days. However, Teiso, with his empathetic nature, almost always managed to get us to take a picture after a little patience. Sometimes it meant giving them a small gift in the form of rupees. He also explained to me where this tradition came from. There are two stories about this:

  1. As other tribes, such as the Nashi, practiced polygamy and it could be quite expensive for a Nashi man, they used to take wives from other tribes. To keep them recognizable, they had tattoos and nose plugs.
  2. There was a beautiful daughter of a family. It is customary for the woman to choose her husband. However, the daughter did not receive any offers because of her beauty, so she had herself “disfigured” a little so that she would receive offers.

Either way, I find it impressive and a certain pride is palpable. Speaking of pride … some villagers maintain their own bamboo forests. These forests are full of relatively thin bamboo poles. We were lucky enough to be shown such a forest. He proudly felled one for us. The bamboo grows to a height of 5 meters within a year, but then needs another 2 years to reach the quality that allows the poles to be used.

There is a kind of viewpoint near the airport, the Ziro Putu. At the end of our several-hour tour of the village, we settled down there to internalize what we had experienced and simply enjoy the silence. Especially in the evening, the light is perfect for immersing yourself in this beautiful area.

It was time, the local craft factory and the market were waiting. So we set off. Unfortunately there were only a few artists in the factory, one was making the stools, another was painting bamboo cups and in another room women were weaving the typical capes and shawls. I love this kind of color and garments.

Slowly tiring from the full day and the walks, we visited the market after a tea break. I was particularly impressed by the production of bush knives. In this country, each knife has its own appearance and ornamentation, depending on the tribe to which it belongs. However, the metal underneath remains the same.

Back at the homestay, we met a family from the south. They were photographers looking for bird motifs. As I was feeling a bit fitter again, we played a round of badminton outside before heading into the warm living room to enjoy a tasty meal.

A really intense day was coming to an end. That night I took 3 blankets and my silk sleeping bag. That was the solution, I slept wonderfully soundly. Namaste to Ziro and its inhabitants!

SCHLUCLOSING WORDS (08.02.2019)SSWORT (08.02.2019)

Looking back, this tour was worth every minute. What remains are heart-touching memories with 5000 pictures, encounters and moments with nature and above all with the people, especially the children, in this corner of India, close to the Himalayan mountains and surrounded by Myanmar, Sikkim and Bhutan. Countries that I have had the pleasure of visiting before. So the circle closes, the picture is complete and I am infinitely grateful for the time I was able to spend here.

I would like to thank Teiso Yhokha, my guide, my driver Manoranjan Rhaba and Helen Kämpf from Terralaya Travels for all the organization and their valuable tips and support. It is a pleasure to write this report for all of them and the people of North East India.

May it inspire you, dear readers, to go on tours, let go of the ropes, set sail and encounter other cultures, including yourselves. If you travel with your heart, you will be given a lot. It was an all-round feel-good package for me and I am sure that we will all meet again. Namaste to life!!

Link collection: for unforgettable travel planning – more information about North East India

Auswärtiges for information about the country and its people and safety instructions