Have you ever worked on a project which resulted in nothing? Or walked a kilometre in the wrong direction for food?

The previous week has been exactly like that for me—every ticket I buy stands cancelled.

No, this is not going to be a post wallowing in self-pity. I haven’t been able to shudder this constant feeling of having done something wrong or incomplete. And this reminded me of my two-night stay in Miao, in Changlang district of Arunachal Pradesh.

Those who have been to Arunachal know that the transport is no major attraction there and the Eastern part of the state is garnished with the worst type of roads. Reaching Miao from Bordumsa was long and the last stretch of muddy, stone-chiselled roads after Kharsang were the least charming at night.

Getting people and a bike across the fierce river.
An attempt to ferry people across the river.

Namdapha Jungle Camp was farther away from Miao market but the two enormous puddles were the highlights that evening. In my mind, I wanted to return home after 14 days of travel in the state. And these sights were not encouraging.

The only thing that kept me interested was the work I had to finish.

And the next morning, I realised that I would need something stronger to give me hope. I was in the wrong place, looking to access a village which I could only get to by crossing the river and since the river was rough that didn’t look like an option. (See those things they don’t tell you online!)

To make matters worse, I hadn’t slept all night. Things looked quite pathetic even after my cup of chai.

We left for Miao market where I asked what were the villages accessible close by and if a quick visit to Namdapha National Park was possible. With nothing working out, we went back to the camp after a quiet lunch.

A vacation feels refreshing when it’s planned. But when it is thrown at us, it becomes worrisome—this I realised somewhere between the two puddles en route. And I had a choice.

So I picked one.

My cottage.
My cottage.

Namdapha Jungle Camp is near Dehing River, which tends to change its course. The camp has three cottages with attached bathrooms and the area is adorned with friendly dogs and farming patches. They grow potato, paddy and turmeric here, amongst others. The food was excellent! With the erratic electricity, the delicious homemade food was a miracle and needless to say, after weeks I had a satisfying cup of chai.

What truly came as a blessing was the clean bathroom and the hot water geyser. Sure, travelling teaches us to be modest but Eastern Arunachal is starved of clean toilets and I’m being kind with my words.

And so I splurged. I washed my hair, pulled out a fruit and my book, sat under the sun, played with the dogs and drank another cup of chai. Being wasted never felt so good.

In the evening, Phupla Singpho, the owner of the camp, visited us and I was rather happy to meet him. Apart from his matter-of-fact views about on socio-cultural issues of the state, I discovered that he works with SEACOW (Society for Eco Awareness & Conservation of Wildlife) and Help Tourism. He also designed and built the sustainable cottages himself and shared his ambitions of promoting eco-tourism in the state, as I sat admiring his words.

As I sat reading my book, the dark clouds came in.
As I sat reading my book, the dark clouds came in.

Miao was a complete waste of my time and money (well, almost). And yet, it has been one of my most scenic moments in Arunachal. I’m not sure if I was coerced to take that break from work because it had been a week since the last one, or if I needed to sit back and stare, or if I had to be better at research.

And so, I tell myself—perhaps this is my keeping-trying-relentlessly phase. After all, it is easy being an optimist when we have it all.

Good to know

-Namdapha Jungle Camp is a few kilometres away from Miao market. You will need someone from the camp for guidance.
-I paid 4000 INR for three meals for two adults. Prices differ seasonally.
-Phupla Singpho organises trekking tours and nature/bird walks at Namdapha National Park. Get in touch with him: phupla@rediffmail.com, namdaphatoursandtreks@gmail.com, +919436228763.

Read: Lessons From the Nowhere Land of Arunachal Pradesh

What do you do when work doesn’t get done?

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Amrita Das

I have been a travel and culture independent journalist. My bylines have appeared in many publications worldwide including National Geographic Traveller India, Lonely Planet Magazine India, The Indian Express and World Travel Magazine. A fellow of Media Ambassadors India-Germany 2019 program by Robert Bosch Stiftung and Centre for Media Competence, University of Tübingen. Currently, I am the photo editor for RoundGlass Sustain, a wildlife and conservation e-publication. I live in India.

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2 thoughts on “That Fruitless Travel to Miao, Arunachal Pradesh”

  1. You are in one of the most dreamy destinations in India.. I have colleagues who have lived in Arunachal Pradesh and I have longed to go there for very long…

    1. Go in November? It is a good time. I loved my very different experience in Arunachal. I’m sure you’ll be going back many times after the first.

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