We left the big city and started to get deeper and deeper into the mountains. Lush forest surrounded and engulfed us promptly. It was a beautiful drive and we arrived at our destination after dark. A few people were waiting for the bus to park, ready to offer us a ride to their accommodation. One of the touts was a 12-year-old kid that spoke fantastic English and had his game face on. He was quite funny, and the hotel he represented one in our short list, so we gladly jumped on his and his friends’ bike to go there. The hotel was only a few blocks away, tall, clean and new looking.
The next morning we set out to explore the town. We first made our way along the river towards the Shan palace, where we hoped to meet some of the royal descendants. We heard this people had no trouble bad mouthing the military by talking about the abuses committed against their minority, but unfortunately it was closed due to the holiday period (and rumour says the head man might be in jail for not keeping his mouth shut)
We continued onwards along some small dirt roads and got a glimpse of these people’s daily life. After about 20 minutes we arrived at a small temple that had some quite cool concrete animal sculptures. On the floor we found a strange lizard, whose kind I had not seen before. It started changing colour towards blue as we approached but would not move – queer indeed.
We stopped at a nice cafe called “Mrs Popcorn” where a lovely local lady delighted us with delicious fruit juice. About 85% of the ingredients of all dishes were grown right there in the huge garden and freshly cut when patrons placed their order. The place was very peaceful and it was great to walk around it looking at all the different food producing plants and trees.
We proceeded to a place called mini Bagan, where old temples lay in ruins. One in particular was most astonishing because a tree was growing right through the middle, giving the impression the bricks were part of it – quite the sight.
On our way back we passed a noodle producing factory. They dry them right there next to the rail tracks, something I had not seen before. It certainly looked amusing to see all that pasta hang out in the open…
At last we used the train tracks to guide us home, via a dodgy little bridge that crossed a stream and next to some very humble homes. That night we tried the famous tea leaves salad at a restaurant nearby.
The next day, Tim had serious food poisoning and was unable to move from bed. For the past few nights, loud music had kept us up until midnight and resumed around 8AM. Upon inquiry, we were told that a massive festival was due in the next few days, that was why the music was blasting at all times. I left Tim after making sure he was comfortable and headed towards the noise.
The main street was pouring with people. A bunch of family groups had come together to build this very particular carriages (lets call them that) with pretty much anything they could get their hands on, which included but was not limited to: towels, pillows, plates, dish racks, fans, bills, umbrellas, rugs, brooms, water dispensers and all sorts of other crazy stuff. At the back, massive speakers boomed music and members of the group danced their assess of. A lot of them were quite drunk and hilarious. I walked up and down the street a long time, and there were many of these vehicles slowly making their way in an unorganized parade. The vibes were amazing and it was a festival like no other. Once again we were lucky to be in Hsipaw at the right time…