Menchuka, September 27, 2013
The place is beautiful. I did expect to see higher mountains and a dash of snow on the peaks, however, the town of Menchuka is at approximately 6000 ft and while it is surrounded by high mountains, they don’t appear to be as high and rocky as the ones that can be seen in Tawang, Bhutan and Nepal.
A short drive north side, towards the China border did reveal higher mountains in the distance. To explore that side would require a permit from the Indian Army and a reason to head there. Neither of which I have.
The people who live in Menchuka are very friendly. Right from the beginning of my 7 hour long jeep ride from Along [Aalo], the people from this town didn’t hesitate to walk up to me and ask me about myself. They couldn’t believe that my trip to Menchuka was as unplanned as it turned out to be. Heading to their town without knowing anyone there, or having a good reason to be heading that far, or not even knowing where I’d stay appeared to be quite a bit for them to digest.
Nevertheless, they chatted with me about my background, the whos, whats , why’s etc. They spoke to me about the town, what one can do and see etc. I was quite intrigued with their friendliness and I hope that development and tourists don’t ever make them change that.
To my luck, one of the people who approached me at Aalo turned out to be the owner of a home stay and had helped tourists before. I was a bit sceptical of taking his help and suggestions, given that I have almost always lived in places where you stay away from people who randomly approach you with a proposition.
I reached Menchuka on Friday the 27th of September, 2013 after a rather long and cramped journey in a jeep, squashed in with 10 other people. I went straight to Additional Deputy Commissioner’s office which is right in the center of town. A friend of mine from college, who is from Arunachal Pradesh had suggested that I do so. The ADC was not in his seat and I was directed to the Circle Officer, a young gentleman called Mr. RK Sona. He was really kind and entertained my application to seek a room in the government’s Inspection Bungalow. Although I received this permission, the room that I was allotted wasn’t free as the government employee using it had decided to stay on. Given that I wasn’t here on an official capacity and that the other gentleman was, there was no hope for that room.
I decided to go find Mr. Gombay, the gentleman who had approached me at the jeep stand in Aalo. I walked the 10 minute distance to the other end of town to find a lovely wooden cottage and Mr. Gombay standing there with a rather ‘I knew it’ smile. He showed me in and offered any help I needed. I asked for a room and some tea. Tea has never tasted so good especially after a long journey, stumbling upon a beautiful cottage and knowing that I now had a bed to sleep on.
I wandered around the small town taking in all the sights and making a mental plan for the next few days. I wasn’t sure whether to cut short the trip because of the lack of high rocky and snowy mountains or to extend it because the place just has such a nice pleasant feel to it and I was really feeling relaxed.
I thought I’d decide the next morning. For now, I’d settle in to bed after a light dinner and a drink of Old Monk, bought from the local wine shop.