On the Road from Pyin Oo Lwin to Hsipaw
The plan for the day was to travel from Pyin Oo Lwin to Hsipaw and stop at the Peik Chin Myaung Cave on the way. We were going to drive most of the way but wanted to take the train over the Gokteik Viaduct to experience the train ride without having to spend 10-13 hours traveling to Hsipaw. The first thing we did was head to the Pyin Oo Lwin train station to buy tickets for a short trip on the train over the Gokteik Viaduct, the highest bridge in Myanmar. The station at Pyin Oo Lwin is right by a market and strip of restaurants so we were able to check out the produce and enjoy the morning rituals of breakfast, smoking, people selling their wares, children playing and forlorn dogs hoping for a scrap.
This woman was trying very hard to explain to Fabio what the fruit she was selling was called. We recognized it as a soursop. Delicious!
Here's a little live footage of the scene outside the Pyin Oo Lwin train station.
We departed Pyin Oo Lwin destined for Hsipaw. On the way we stopped to visit Peik Chin Myaung Cave, an amazing cave of stalgtites filled with hundreds of buddha's. A beautiful waterfall marked the entrance to the cave. We meandered through the cave simply overwhelmed by the number of buddha statues and other shrines. To call it a cave is kind of misleading because it took us about 15-minutes to make it to the end of the cave. On our way back to the car we were stopped by a group of teenagers and each one wanted an individual picture with us. I suppose they hadn't seen westerner's before. We felt like celebrities!
Below is some live footage of the cave.
From there we headed to the Naunghkio train station to catch the Manadaly-Hsipaw train for a few stops to go over the viaduct. The train stations themselves are really something to see. The train stops for about 15 minutes at each station and women sell prepared food, snacks and beverages to train passengers, which they carry on large trays upon their heads. During our 1 1/2 hr ride we passed villages, lush country side and enjoyed incredible views over the deep multicolored gorge of the viaduct. There are a few different class train tickets & our driver purchased us first class which was very comfortable. It may be more interesting to ride for a short time in the lower class to experience the ambience amongst the Burmese people. We were definitely happy we took the train for a few stops; it's a wonderful opportunity to see life by the train tracks.
Below is some live footage from the train stations and going over the Gokteik Viaduct.
We got off the train at Naungpeng and continued on with our driver towards Hsipaw. We stopped for lunch at a Chinese restaurant which we only realized was Chinese when the waitress thanked us by saying shi shi; thank you in Chinese. This is not the kind of Chinese food Americans are familiar with. It is very light and flavored with lemongrass, cilantro, chili's and other spices. Shan State where we were spending all of our time in Myanmar is populated by many ethnic Chinese people. We selected our lunch from a buffet display of various vegetable, pork & chicken dishes. A spicy, limey, soup with chili peppers, lemongrass, cilantro and an unrecognizable spicy pinwheel accompanied the meal.
Everything was delicious and we left feeling full yet light. We continued on toward Hsipaw and arrived about an hour later around 2 pm and checked into the Nom Sae Kho guest house.