Hsipaw back to Mandalay

On February 13th, I headed to the train station with the three Canadians with whom I’d been trekking. We caught a train together to Mandalay, which took a long time, but was good for a few photo opportunities and some conversation.

There were LOTS of pineapples for sale at the train station.

We stopped every once in a while at different stations, which sometimes make for good photo opportunities, like these kids playing with an old rail truck:

Crossing the Gokteik Viaduct again, we leaned out and took more photos like this one:

Even the locals get up to stare out the windows as we pass over the viaduct:

At one point, we locked Luke out of the train for a bit:

And later we had ice cream at another station. It wasn’t too tasty, but it looked nice!

We arrived fairly late in Mandalay, headed to the Nylon Hotel, and in the morning I got up nice and early to buy a ticket and catch a train north to Myitkyina. My room in Mandalay was on the roof, and this is what I saw when I woke up and looked way down to the street:

I left Mandalay at noon, and took loads of photos from the train, which will be posted in a couple days.

Trekking in Shan State – Part 5 – the End

As we waited for our bus in Namhsan, the local monks did their daily tour of the town to collect donations of rice from the townspeople. First, one boy walks through the town ringing a sort of bell, to announce that the monks are coming:

Then the monks walk silently down the road and people come out to add rice to the monks’ food bowls for their daily meal.

The bus did eventually arrive, and it was certainly interesting. It was one of the typical buses in Burma, clearly built over 40 years ago and yet somehow still running. There were a few things that were askew, such as this speedometer:

This is the view from my ‘seat’ on top of a bunch of concrete-hard bags full of compacted tea leaves:

I suppose Scott enjoyed the wonderful lack of leg room even more than the rest of us:

Turning around, this is what was behind me: the entire bus was loaded nearly to the ceiling with tea and then a tarp was placed over the bags so that we could sit somewhere, as there were only two seats that could be used.

The first hour or so was terrifically uncomfortable for me, as I kept slipping off my seat of tea bags and the road was nice and bumpy so I had to keep my head down to avoid getting a concussion on the ceiling. After a while, however, I realised that I could wiggle my way a couple feet backward and I was up on the tarp. There was only maybe 2 feet of space between the tarp and ceiling, but it turned out to be quite comfortable lying there for the remaining hours of the trip.

Here’s our bus, stopped for a midday snack:

We arrived safely back in Hsipaw that evening, and slept soundly in our guesthouse before continuing on to new adventures the next day.

Trekking in Shan State – Part 1

On February 8th, I went for a walk. Having spent two nights in Hsipaw, I had met some other travellers, including three Canadians (one from BC, two from Ontario). We decided to go trekking together, and after fruitless attempts to catch a bus to Namhsan to start the walk back to Hsipaw, we ended up changing our plan to walk from Hsipaw to Namhsan and then bus back.

Crossing a bridge:

Crazily large parasite plant living in a tree:

Strange inedible berry:

My three trekking companions:

At the end of our first day of walking, we had reached a small village. We arranged to stay above a small shop, and eat food there too. A bunch of little children were interested in us, and they loved having their photos taken.

Having some tea:


Children playing around for the camera:

This is the room we slept in, which wasn’t very comfortable and was extremely cold at night:

We covered only 13 km that day, as we started quite late. It was a good day of walking, though, and the next day we had a big breakfast before continuing on our journey.

Hsipaw, Shan State

Having arrived in Hsipaw, I hung around town for a couple of days and took it easy. This post is just a random assortment of 8 photos from my short stay in Hsipaw.

I met a few other travellers at the guesthouse, and spent time with them for meals and conversation. While having a beer, this guy visited our table:

Buddhist nuns walking down the street in Hsipaw:

Interesting billboard in Hsipaw:

At the market, among other things for sale, were every part of a pig. Featured here: legs and brains.

Helmets with the distinctive shape of the WWII Nazi army helmets have become hugely popular for motorcyclists in Thailand and Burma recently. A small number of them even have the Nazi swastika on them! Very strange.

Oxcarts are everywhere in Burma:

This man was leading his water buffalo through town, not sure why, but it was making an amusing face:

So those are the photos I took in Hsipaw. On February 8th, I started a very long walk in the company of three other Canadians I had met in the guesthouse. More on that fun-filled trek in the coming posts.