Beyond The Pagodas

beyond the pagodas

The past year has taught me to slow down. As a traveller, I now find myself free from the pressure of ‘seeing everything’. Our trip across eastern Arunachal Pradesh focused on taking rare experiences everyday rather than trying to squeeze in as many places into the itinerary. Visiting Chongkham is a case in point.

There were hills, there were those grand pagodas, there was great food and there was absolute serenity but it was the people who made it special. For instance, Sukiyo Chow Mein, our driver, tour guide, man Friday and now, a dear friend. He had been a sheer delight. We first met him at Dibrugarh Airport. Almost my age, the Khampti boy with cool tattoos vibed with me and Sandipan instantly.

Getting spiritual in NamsaiA smooth drive blessed with tea gardens takes us to the Golden Pagoda Eco Resort in Tengapani. By the time we reach, it’s dark but fortunately we can see the beautifully lit pagoda from our cottage. And zillions of stars. Soon, a bonfire is raised, copious amounts of homemade rice beer is served. There is wine too, followed by a wholesome Khampti dinner. We have paasa, a soup made from raw fish and herbs. There is namson tongpuk, a curry made by fermenting yam leaves and rice, paapho or steamed fish which is prepared in banana leaf and cooked over fire and there is steamed chicken with dry bamboo shoots…

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