A Brief Look at Hsipaw, Myanmar
There still aren't too many tourists in town but Hsipaw is growing. I was told by one person, last year only 3 guest house, this year 6 and next year 12. It will be great for the guest houses and restaurants but other than that I can't see how it will help the other people living there. The shops and markets sell things only for the local people. In fact, I kept saying that they should sell the tea, chili peppers and fabrics that they make to the tourists. I thought all of Myanmar was going to be like this but when we got to Bagan I realized I was mistaken. It will just take some time for this type of commerce to reach Hsipaw.
It was fascinating to see how the Burmese people really live in a small town. For work It seemed the people went to the fields to farm, sold produce, ran restaurants and small shops and mechanics worked on the massive trucks and assorted vehicles. Most people get around on scooters which is a major convenience for them, seeing that just 10 years ago they only had bicycles. The town was completely dark at about 7 pm, the only light coming from a few restaurants, most people without TV or other entertainment so bed time came rather early, even for us. As the saying goes, early to bed, early to rise which was the case here. On our way to the Lily Guest House to meet our trekking guide in the cool misty morning air, we saw people preparing breakfast over open fire, others on their way to the fields and nuns walking about town.
The modes of transportation are really something to see. They range from bicycle to scooter to a multitude of trucks with engines of every type, usually sitting outside the truck and always extremely loud. The first time I heard one approaching I searched the area for a landing helicopter. The largest of the trucks are massive Russian dump trucks. In fact, we passed an auto body shop and Fabio asked the man there where the huge truck they were working on came from. He replied, "Russia, but you can take it home with you" and laughed. I guess he wasn't having much luck repairing it! I've included a short video below so you can hear just how loud the trucks are.
The main road from Mandalay to China is a constant stream of large trucks filled with cargo on its way to China. Unfortunately our guest house was right on this road and construction was going strong throughout the night on another side. The Nam Khae Mao guest house is great for budget travelers with rooms for$13 but because we couldn't sleep with all the noise from the highway we moved to Mr. Charles hotel for the next night. Mr Charles is further up in town & on a side street so it's much more quiet. The room was very nice and the buffet breakfast of shan noodle soup, lentil curry, chapatti and eggs was delicious.