My sister sent me a message this morning that was simply a photo she’d taken. The photo was of a note from our Nanny. It read:
“Jessica. News of Caitlin? Many thanks.”
So, just to please you Nanny (and the rest of the family who can’t last a week without knowing what I’ve been doing), here’s something I’ll “TRY” to keep going. A weekly update from the road!
This week has been a little crazy on the travel front, and I don’t mean the good kind of crazy.
Of those seven days we all get every week, four of mine were spent in some form of transport… I’ve clocked up who knows how many miles, and been in so many vehicles, it’s hard to imagine how I had any time to explore…
With it taking me two days to get to Pyin Oo Lwin in Myanmar, a rest day while I waited for Leila (a friend from Vietnam) to catch up, and then two days to get to and from Hsi Paw and on to Mandalay, I suppose you could say I had a pretty solid introduction into the speed at which all things move in Myanmar.
As for the non-transport related travel, you could say my start in this new country was a bit turbulent…
My first day of exploration saw me take in the Botanical Gardens of Pyin Oo Lwin – a remnant from the colonial era when the British used the city as an escape from the heat. I spent most of the day cycling to, and then wandering around, these gardens. They were full of Burmese locals who were all immensely welcoming and friendly. I’m having to slowly learn to now keep my guard down after Vietnam! Basically, I quickly fell in love with the country and the amazing people who live here.
And then I got to Hsi Paw.
Leila and I opted to take the train for this leg of the journey, which arrived hours later than planned and continued to get further and further behind schedule as we went (something I’m beginning to think is quite normal here in Myanmar). Although it did take up an entire day, the views from our seats were worth it, especially as we passed over the Gokteik Viaduct – the tallest railway tresle bridge in the world when it was first built in 1899.
As we were checking in to our hotel later that night, Leila posed the question “What time does the trekking start in the morning?”. Hsi Paw is known for it’s trekking, and that’s basically the reason why we ventured so far north.
Unfortunately, and to our disbelief, we were told “no trekking”.
As it turned out, a “meeting” was occurring between Shan rebels and the government military and trekking guides were advised not to take tourists out for multi-day hikes (ultimately a good decision since I met a few returning trekkers who had photos of men holding guns).
We didn’t know when this “meeting” would be over, so headed out solo the next day, jumping on some bikes and riding out along the main road towards a monastery.
After quite some time wandering around here, we eventually found a path leading to – what we hoped would be – the waterfall. We’d been told it would be a 45 minute walk. Sceptically we ventured out into the heat, limited water on hand, lunchtime looming but no food in sight.
After our little self-made trek, we decided it was time to leave Hsi Paw and return to Mandalay. Noone knew when the trekking would begin again, so there was little point in waiting around.
We wandered back to the hotel, with the intent of working out the best method of getting there. In what I’m now assuming as the most inconvenient time of travel in the area, we were told “no busses”.
That left us, and everyone else who found they didn’t really have anything to do in Hsi Paw, with the train. A train with limited “upper class” seats and many wooden “ordinary class” seats for the long journey back to Mandalay…
While Leila and I arrived at the train station early in the hopes of getting one of those prized upper class seats, they were all sold out and so we mentally prepared ourselves for what was going to be a long, painful journey, made only longer by excessive delays.
Eventually we arrived into Mandalay around 2am, some six or seven hours after the scheduled time.
With that arrival time, it was no wonder that we slept in on the final day of the week. However, I did eventually venture out by bicycle to explore a few sights:
Read More at: Myanmar Travel
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