A Travellerspoint blog

The Road to Hsipaw


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We departed from Mandalay at 8:30 AM for the Shan state town of Hsipaw, a popular trekking destination. We took a cappuccino break in Pyin Oo Lwin, the colonial British hill station 2 hours out of Mandalay. After crossing the Goteik Gorge (note below) and trying unsuccessfully to photograph the breathtaking railroad bridge, we stopped for a lunch break in Kyaukme. (pronounced Chow-mae) We requested the best Shan noodles in town and our driver San Gee found them. The shan noodle soup was delicious and the tea leaf salad was fresh and complimented perfectly.

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After another 40 minutes we arrived in Hsipaw. It was a little rough departing from the comedy team/taxi driver duo of San Gee and Moe Sue. San Gee was the straight man and Moe Sue was the foil. (Not kidding about Moe’s name) They were attentive to our inquiries about Myanmar daily life as we passed through village and roadside attractions and they would then respond in an understated manner that was explosively funny, laughing at our silly questions the whole time. Moe Sue was an enthusiastic student of English and he would innocently rehearse bits of our questions in a murmured voice to himself as we zoomed along, adding to the hilarious effect. We truly felt abandoned when they left, knowing that we were likely to encounter similar kindness soon but not such a genuine comedy duo. Upon arrival at Lily’s Guesthouse in Hsipaw, we asked them to stay with us for a few days but alas they had lives to lead and places to go.

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Lily’s capable and articulate son, Kaung Ta, quickly took us under his wing and gave us a full briefing on the possibilities of the town. Lily herself stopped by later on to make sure we were comfortable and to answer any questions. This is certainly a full service operation.

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The Goteik Viaduct Train Bridge was constructed in 1899 and completed in 1900 by Pennsylvania and Maryland Bridge Construction Inc. The components were made by the Pennsylvania Steel Company, and the parts were shipped from the United States. The rail line was constructed as a way for the British Empire to expand their influence in the region, and when it was completed, it was the largest railway trestle in the world.

credit to jeffreydonenfeld.com

Posted by mjschrum 18:41 Archived in Myanmar Tagged myanmar hsipaw Comments (1)

Mandalay Day 2


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We started our Mandalay city tour at Shwe Kyaung Monastery. The teak constructed monastery survived World War 2 bombing and is the lone example of 19th century Myanmar style in the palace area.

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Next door is Kuthodaw Pagoda, where the biggest book in the world, made out of stone, is housed. It has 729 'leaves' and 1,458 pages. Each 'leaf' is a marble slab, inscribed on both sides, that sits in its own small, cave-like building called a kyauksa gu. Each tablet is five feet tall and three-and-a-half feet wide. The pagoda was constructed as part of the foundations of the new royal city of Mandalay back in 1857. King Mindon had the entire Tipitaka Pali canon of Theravada Buddhism inscribed in gold on the huge tablets.

Credit to www.environmentalgraffiti.com

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Sandamuni Pagoda was our final stop before Mandalay Hill. We then embarked up the 1729 stairs to the top. Mandalay City takes its name from the hill, instead of the official name Yadanabon, which means, “mound of gems.” It took 40 min or so to summit and we enjoyed the views before our precarious descent with bare feet.

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Tonight we are packing for our ride to Hsipaw (Pronounced see-po) in the morning. 6 hours should bring us to the Shan village where we hope to do some trekking. We are testing a new wearable mosquito repellent bracelet. Last night on the patio the unshielded control group was marauded by mosquitos while the lucky bandwearer was bite-free. Today we bought another so that we would both be equipped. A nice sunset in Mandalay!

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Posted by mjschrum 04:49 Archived in Myanmar Tagged hotel mandalay mall myanmar smart diamond shwe hsipaw pindaya nyaung Comments (0)

Mandalay Day 1


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Pagodas, palaces, temples, museums… so where do we go? The mall, of course. We need road food for our upcoming trip to Hsipaw so we used that as an excuse to do some mall walking and people watching. Afterward, we went to a Shan Noodle restaurant next door that was packed with locals. (Must be good,right?) I ordered my noodles dry, soup on the side, and soon had 5 teenage wait staff surrounding me telling me that I wasn't eating them properly. I was supposed to mix the pork in before devouring. The other half of the waiters came over to witness my ignorance with delighted smiles on their faces. Glad to provide some entertainment, we finished our cold diet cokes (rare find here) and went on our way. Mandalay Hill here we come.

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Not brave enough

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Intense indeed

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Home sweet home

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Skybar

Posted by mjschrum 02:30 Archived in Myanmar Tagged hotel mandalay mall myanmar smart diamond shwe hsipaw pindaya nyaung Comments (1)

The Road to Mandalay


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We booked a shared taxi to Mandalay and bought all 4 seats to have it to ourselves. Mew, our driver, took us on the old road to avoid tolls and to enjoy the scenes along the way. Total drive time was 10 hours including a detour and stopover in Pindaya to see the caves. (see pics below) We would recommend this to any travelers going from Inle Lake to Mandalay. We saw beautiful countryside, a mountain pass, descent into a gorgeous river valley, and then Mandalay! This would also be a fantastic 3 day bike trip, with an overnight stop in Pindaya at their nice hotels, and perhaps a stop in the small town of DSFDF. Miles and miles of single lane asphalt lined with eucalyptus through hilly farm country, then a mountain climb and descent into Mandalay. Then jump into a taxi to avoid Mandalay traffic.

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Pindaya Caves
Shwe Oo Min Natural Cave Pagoda in Pindaya, a limestone cavern 500 feet deep filled with over 8900 buddha images of a diversity of shapes, sizes and materials, including teak, marble and lacquer. Some were left centuries ago by Burmese pilgrims, while others are more recent donations from abroad. The spider guards the cave entrance, and legend has it that he trapped 7 princesses inside who were then rescued by the spider-slayer…

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Posted by mjschrum 19:29 Archived in Myanmar Tagged mandalay myanmar shwe pindaya nyaung Comments (2)

Inle Lake Day 6

Boat Races


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Another delightful day in Nyaung Shwe with boat races and the procession arrival. If you are coming to Inle Lake, don't stay at the hilux resorts out on the lake. Stay here, this town is too much fun.

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Me Too

Posted by mjschrum 04:24 Archived in Myanmar Tagged burma pagoda festival myanmar maison shwe oo nyaung bermaine phaung daw Comments (3)

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