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 4

In the afternooon on February 10th, we arrived at our destination for that day: Man nawk. We checked out the village monastery, where there is one home for monks and another for nuns. The nuns made us a massive and delicious meal!

Here’s a 30 second exposure of a stupa overlooking the monastery grounds at night:

That night the moon was really, really red. I saw it and immediately grabbed my camera, took around 40 shots, of which maybe 5 turned out ok. This is a cropped frame, but not enlarged:

We slept that night in Man nawk with warm blankets protecting us from the frigid temperatures outside, and woke up on February 11th feeling terrific.

Part of the monastery in the morning:

We passed by the home of the nuns on our way out of town, and some of them came to the windows to wave goodbye, like this one:

This was the final leg of our actual walking expedition from Hsipaw to Namhsan, and it wasn’t the easiest day by any means. If anything, it was harder as the sun was ridiculously intense and there was even less shade than on previous days. The hill climbs were really steep and I found it extremely challenging. We stopped in a bit of shade by these waterfalls for about 5 minutes at one point:

We made it to Namhsan, a very small mountain town that apparently serves as the local capital. After a nice freezing cold shower and some good food, the four of us went to bed in the only guesthouse in town. The walls between rooms, while visible, offered no resistance to the sound waves emanating from the room next to ours. Throughout the entire night, we were serenaded by the monstrous snoring of some sort of beast from the netherworld. It was by far the worst snoring I have ever heard, and I have heard some CRAZY loud snoring. In the morning the snorer woke up and walked past my room, the door of which was open as Scott was out for a minute. He looked in with a scowl on his face and let out a massive fart. I was glad we only stayed there one night.

That morning, we walked a short distance in town to wait for our 630am bus, which of course arrived around 9 or so. Turns out that February 12th was Burma’s Union Day, so there were flags EVERYWHERE.

While waiting, we ate, joked around, etc. Luke, who’s around my height (a little over 6 foot), decided to climb onto Scott’s shoulders. Adding a 6 ft man to the shoulders of an estimated 6’9″ man produced a monster that seemed to frighten some of the local children a wee bit:

Next post: Riding a bus loaded with tea leaves.