Rains having already begun while we were in Dibrugarh, we were expecting the same weather on our way to Likabali on the second day of #EyesForArunachal but nothing had prepared us for the watery onslaught we were ill-prepared for.
After a late breakfast, we were driven to the banks of the Brahmaputra River, where we would be getting onto a vessel that would take us to the other bank of the river. We drove past the Jumeirah Tea Estates before we reached the river bank. I had pictured a long and wide wooden raft that would somehow been run by a diesel engine or a large vessel ( as large as a ten room apartment perhaps that would have space for 20 cars ). What we got on however was probably the size of a three room apartment all put together including the engine room, the “captain’s” cabin and deck space.
The walk from the road where our vehicle was parked, till the boat had us soaked in the rain. We did have umbrellas but those are no match for windy rain at the banks of the Brahmaputrs river. It was slashing it our feet and I could barely manage to tuck my camera undder my arms AND hold an umbrella. The camera got a little wet but nothing a quick wipe with a dry cloths wouldn’t solve. We scurried into the lower-deck level and waited to be ferried across.
For about 45 minutes we waited as someone “important” had requested the boat to wait. Our tiny wooden vessel already had one Army Gypsy that had been driven onto it for transport and about 12 Army soldiers. I couldn’t understand how this little thing could possibly take on an additional 4-5 person entourage!
But there we were. Waiting. This person faw finally spotted at the horizon and another boat, which had been anchored next to ours this whole time, was commissioned by the occupants of our boat, that now had to be emptied for this new person. I was too nervous about the impending river crossing to bother with this new person’s tardiness and we quickly moved to the new vessel.
The new boat turned out to be better than the previous one, mainly because the “captain” offered us his cabin to cool our heels while the boat wound its way to the other bank of the river. the river didn’t look half as dangerous from this new vessel as it had from the previous one!
We were soaked and shivering in the cold breeze but now we could hide inside a cabin and avoid the breeze at least. Besides, not too long ago, even the Indian Army had to use elephants to cross the river here and I was glad I didn’t have to go through THAT.
The bridge in the photos, over the Brahmaputra River, has been “under construction” for almost the last twenty years. Quite a way to keep one part of the country completely cut off from the rest of it. Makes me feel empathy for the people who live in the North Eastern states of India. What a sad state of affairs.
The Brahmaptura river has slowly started to swell as rains from the hills all collect into it. Rainy season is completely upon Arunachal Pradesh and we were told that it rains for eight months straight from March to November and December to February is slightly more dry but much colder.
The drive from the Brahmaputra to Likabali took about 45 minuts. the first one third of the road is terribly broken and remaining 2/3rd is beautifully well-laid and wide. “Madam, the road gets washed away as it is being laid! What to do? It is like this only.”
I’ve been at the room at Likabali for about three hours now and it has stopped raining thrice for precisely 5-7 minutes each. It seems to me that as it gets closer to night time, those intervals are becoming smaller and smaller.
There isn’t much to do at Likabali, except maybe visit the Silapther Market, which was drove through on our way to Likabali anyway. Silapather is in Assam, while Likabali is in Arunachal Pradesh. The mountains are visible now and we will be driving towards and into them for most of tomorrow. Onward to Alon / Along and the roads are supposed to be worse.
I am preparing for tomorrow’s six hour drive over terrible roads by sitting in my room, sipping on wine and listening to the raim come down on the asbestos sheets of the roof.
Likabali is beautiful though – more than Dibrugarh. And the town is sparsely populated and with more local population, rice fields, large pigs and green as far as the eye can see. I could hear and see a multitude of brids in the trees here. They hide under branches and leave when the skies open up but the moment there’s even a small respite in the downpour, out they come and I can hear their chirps and twangs and twitters. I’m not carrying my 70-200 mm leans so there’s almost no chance of me photographing any of the birds. Which is ok I guess because I made the choice to carry two speedlights with me, one camera body and only one lens this time. It gets to be too much weight to carry to a “vacation” otherwise and I was determined I would at least TRY this time. To catch a vacation.
This is my first time in Arunachal Pradesh!