Along is by far the biggest town and also the district headquarter of West Siang. When we arrived at 6pm, the sun had already set but the streets were lit by the moon. I didn’t book any hotel so I stopped at Tashi Hotel just near the main road. To my disappointment the hotel was completely booked. Then I went to another hotel to find the same thing. At the direction of the receptionist I went towards the main market then finally came to the Pharmacy Line. There were 3-4 hotels around here and one could choose depending on the tariff. The West Hotel is a mid Range Hotel while Holidays Inn and Kanchen Residency are budget hotels. I checked into Kanchen Residency. I wasn’t bothered too much by the shabbiness of the room. After wandering now for almost 30 minutes in the cold, a town I knew nothing about, I was pleased to find a shelter. I stayed there just for the night and things worked out fine.
In the morning I wandered around town and had Poori for breakfast at a small Nepali tea shop. It was almost a miracle to arrive at valley so big after driving 6 hours on the mountains covered with greenery.
The problem of not getting local food in most places of North East is that most of these hotels are run by outsiders, mostly Nepalis and Biharis. So you get to eat food you are familiar with.
Adi people inhabited Along but outsiders run majority of the business establishment, as is the case in many North East States. But the vegetable market is completely owned by the local women; it is like a small women market- an open market with just the roof and nothing more. The color and the character stood out bigger than the size of the market. Here you get to see many exotic food items like dried squirrels and mouse. They are considered a delicacy and can be quite expensive, 5-6 pieces cost around Rs.150-Rs.200.
The beautiful valley locked by mountains on all sides is a beautiful place crisscrossed by Yomgo River; which ultimately converge with Sipu River at Puwak Ghat and become an important tributary of the Siang River also known as Brahmaputra River.
One of the closest tourist destinations is Patum Bridge, which is 4-5 km from Along town. I hired an auto for Rs.260 (up and down). It was a good half an hour drive from Along. This hanging Patum Bridge is made of iron rightly fit pictorially into the frame. I explored the river and its banks strewn with smooth pebbles. The river was cerulean and at times the water looked unnatural.
Along’s temperate weather (warmer than most part of Arunachal Pradesh) and gentle valleys are good for orange farming. The oranges are not big in size, but they are extremely sweet and delicious.
On my way back I made acquaintance with a young man serving in the Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force. He was visiting a friend at Along; someone he used to serve together in a battalion. His friend has gone on to take a voluntary retirement and was now into the orange business. On his return his friend had packed a bamboo basket full of oranges. It was almost customary to gift oranges during the peak season. Along’s oranges are popular throughout Arunachal Pradesh.