Another early start to have breakfast and get to the train station to purchase our tickets before 8am. A slightly inflated tuktuk cost due to the torrential rain that stopped us walking the 2.5km from the hotel. Waited in line with the other tourists to have our passport details recorded in exchange for a ridiculously cheap upper class train ticket. Waited on the platform for the extra carriages to be added to the train as we watched locals steal mangos from the wicket baskets that were also going to end up on the train (what was left of them!!). The upper class carriage was, predictably, full of tourists making us slightly regret paying the extra £1 each for soft, comfy chairs as opposed to wooden benches – especially when the two young men behind us starting sprouting bullshit about life – not sure how you can claim to be worldly travelled at the age of 19… The train bumped and jumped along the track so much that I was grateful that my bum had a padded seat to land on as the countryside rolled past and the rain came through the open window. Reluctant to close it as we would then be unable to see the view, we were only one of a few who kept it open. The occasional stop at a train station meant a new batch of people coming into the train to sell food and drinks. Got some lychees, samosas and noodles (all for a total of less than £1) as we continued along the bumpy railway track. Passed over a viaduct as one point which had beautiful views both sides that were only slightly obscured by the rain and mist. We also watched nervously as two other tourists hung out of the door over the sheer drop to the valley floor below, trying to get the perfect Facebook profile photo…
Arrived in Hsipaw around 4pm, having been on the train for nearly 8 hours and were greeted by a free hostel pick up that we didn’t even know about!! Dropped off our bags and spoke to the trekking guys about the possibility of going walking in the hills tomorrow. Not sure if the guide we spoke to just didn’t want to do it or if he looked me up and down and thought ‘no way’ (fool – does he not realise we’ve just done EBC!!) but the trek he offered us seemed very easy and very expensive for a bimble around the town and nearby villages. Went for a walk to the Mahamyatmuni Paya temple nearby to think about it. Inspired by the Mahamuni Buddha in Mandalay, the large brass faced Buddha is placed within the biggest and grandest pagoda in the town.
We walked around, watching the thousands of fish in the pond and the boys play football in the mud before heading back into town to get something to eat. Decided to ‘do-it-ourselves’ trekking tomorrow as the route is marked out on the MapsMe app. Not entirely sure how Jayne has managed to convince me to go trekking again – my toenails still haven’t fully recovered from EBC and, I believe, I had told her ‘never again’… Hmmmmmmmm!!
Tuesday 24th May 2016