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October 23rd 2012
Published: October 23rd 2012
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Motor bikingMotor bikingMotor biking

Through the hillsides of Kyaukme
Kyaukme (pronounced Chow May) is located several hours north of Mandaly. We took an overnight bus from Yangon that took approximately 12 hours—arriving at the bus station at approximately 5am. Despite the early morning hours, we were whisked from the ‘bus station’ to the guest house on a tuk tuk, and given a place to sleep for several hours until our room was ready.

Having slept off the grogginess of our overnight bus, we decided to rent a motor bike to cruise around the hills of our small town. Apparently, this is how renting a motor bike works: The guys hanging around the guest house make some calls, and find a friend who is not using their bike for the day. He brings the bike over, and another guy brings over two helmets. We decide on a price, and that we’ll return it by dark. The only thing he wants he shows us is how the gas tank is full, and he expects it returned that way. He didn’t even take our names!

Thus, we had a great day on a motorbike. Although Philip did a lot of the driving, he
Phil and YumiPhil and YumiPhil and Yumi

Yumi is an amazing solo traveler from Japan. Recently she spent 6 months travelling solo through Africa!
gave me a very thorough lesson, and I captained for awhile. Admittedly, I wasn’t great, and was happy to give the reins back to Phil, especially as cars pass you, you pass cars, trucks, motorbikes get pushed way over to the side of the road by trucks, there are random unpaved sections of road. That, coupled with figuring out the clutch and the throttle proved to be a bit overwhelming. . .Nonetheless, it was a lovely day, filled with meeting wonderful people and taking in sites of the countryside.

The following day we met ‘Sunday’ (our 17 year old guide), his uncle (who didn’t speak any English), and Yumi, a fellow traveler for a 2 day trek into the neighboring Shan villages. We brought water, a raincoat, and some warm layers. Everything else was to be provided by the local villages.

We hiked all day through rolling hills. Corn was the initial crop that was grown (mostly for animals—chicken, cows, and water buffalo). Next came the rows of tea plants. We didn’t see too much for rice fields until we were descending the following day. We hiked 20 km day
Lonely TreeLonely TreeLonely Tree

After trekking all day, we reached our high point--Lonely Tree.
1, topping out at a point called ‘Lonely Tree,’ and ending at a village. Along the way we passed a myriad of villages, and people were always friendly and eager to see the ‘English.’ We were gratiously invited in for tea by some, had lunch at another village, before retiring at the last.

Upon arrival, we were greeted by all of the elder women of the community. It was a ‘special day,’ in which the elder men and elder women ‘act like monks.’ They sleep overnight (separately) in the monastery, eat only until noon, and meditate much of the day. We followed the women up to a fig tree where they were bringing offerings (candles and flowers) for the Buddha as the sun was setting. We settled in at the chiefs house in the village. We ate eggs, vegetables, and rice for dinner, and retired early. The children of the elders were busy all night preparing food for the elders to be feasted upon the following morning.

The trek was great. Nice to be outside hiking all day, and to see how the villagers live. Kind of like a hut
Sunset in the villageSunset in the villageSunset in the village

The elderly women of the village had just made offerings to the buddha at this fig tree during sunset.
trip. We hiked out the following morning, made a swift exit of Kyaukme, to catch another night bus to Inle Lake.

Additional photos below
Photos: 6, Displayed: 6


The elder women of the villageThe elder women of the village
The elder women of the village

Celebrating the 'special day' by sleeping in the monastery and taking meditation much of the day.

24th November 2012

Hey Some of the scenes from your pictures look familiar. A friend and rode from Hsipaw to Namhsan. Is this the same thing you guys did? Love the blog, nice stuff!

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