The bus ride was less like hell and more like purgatory.
It turns out I was armed with higher tolerance on the way back from Ziro than I had on the way there. To my surprise, the same “punk kid” ended up being my Sumo driver from Ziro back to Naharlagun. This coincidence made me smile, and, once again, his driving skills proved solid. Once we arrived, he shouldered my backpack and took me directly to the bus stand. We exchanged a handshake and then parted ways.
Tallo came to pick me up on his motorbike a little later today, around 9 am. We first went on a hike to Taw Tibe Farm, which involved climbing a hell of a lot of steps, but I am accustomed to uphill climbs by now. The farm itself is considered to be its own village, home to only two families. There wasn’t much to see on the farm itself, but the view overlooking the farm and surrounding area was scenic enough:
I awoke well-rested and looking forward to exploring the town. I had known beforehand that Ziro is home to the Apatani tribe and was curious to see their way of life. My guide, a 26-year-old Apatani named Tallo, arrived promptly at 8 am and asked if I would prefer to walk or go by around by motorbike. I chose walking.
Tallo informed me that there are six major villages in Ziro: Hari, Diibo, Hong, Hija, Bulla, and Tajang. As Tallo and I walked along the road towards Hong, his own village, I realized that this place is truly unique—an oasis, really. There is a contrast between modern, colorful suburban-style homes you might expect to find in the west with small, traditional bamboo abodes that you are probably more likely to envision when considering the dwellings of tribespeople. The villages are set against a backdrop of numerous far-reaching rice fields. The interesting thing about these fields is that they they also contain fish, i.e., fish and rice are harvested together.
On May 12th, I set out for Leh airport from my guesthouse at 7 am to catch my morning flight to Guwahati. I had booked my AirBnB accommodations literally ten minutes before leaving, just barely managing it with the in-and-out wifi signal. I know by now that I prefer to have my accommodations booked before I set foot in a new place, at least for the first night. It saves time, energy, and potential stress, especially in a chaotic, big city like Guwahati. The guesthouse I chose (Shimzun Guest House) is owned by Chihan, who lives with his sister and nephew in a separate apartment downstairs (with some communal areas). He was happy to have me stay with them despite booking at the last minute.