Myanmar Travel Log

Myanmar Travel Log Part 3 - On the Train from Pyin U Lwin via the Goteik Viaduct to Hsipaw

Pyin U Lwin - waterfalls, pagodas, caves and a botanical garden

At 1,100 metres above sea level, Pyin U Lwin is graced with green pastures, fresh air and cooler temperatures than the dusty lowlands.

Pyin U Lwin is very inviting and offers a nice botanical garden that is well worth a visit. Once again we recommend that you find yourself a guide with a moped in order to check out the sights.

The buddhist caves of Peik Chin Myaung are located between Pyin U Lwin and Hsipaw. If you take a cab to Hsipaw, try to stop by at this impressive grotto, which is also a perfect destination for a day trip.

We decide to visit the botanical garden, where I manage to record some nice cricket and bird sounds. I also capture the typical cooing noise of the blue-throated barbet; this is a very exotic sound but highly characteristic of Burma, where these birds are quite common. Blue-throated barbets are gregarious little birds that are often heard but rarely seen. Click here for a picture of the blue-throated barbet.

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While I was sitting still during a recording, I suddenly heard a rustling noise in the underbrush. I expected a snake to slither out of the bushes, but instead I was faced with a fully grown stag. For a split-second we looked at each other with surprise, then the animal darted back into the bushes.

In the evening, I booked train tickets to Hsipaw where I marvelled at the horse-drawn carriages decorated with beautiful light tubes.

At the market in Myanmar

I love visiting markets in Asia, because there is always something fascinating on display.

As we quickly found out, it pays to be there early if you want fresh food at a Burmese market.

The food tends to attract flies after it's been exposed to the burning heat all day. Not very appetising...and something to consider when ordering food from the menu in the restaurant.

A rocky train ride from Pyin U Lwin to the Goteik viaduct

On the train from Pyin U Lwin via the Goteik viaduct to Hsipaw
Picture: worn out after eight hours of rocky train ride: tourist group discovers something fascinating

As we were waiting at the train station in Pyin U Lwin, we witnessed a complicated but fascinating shunting manoeuvre involving a few extra carriages. Although fascinating end enjoyable to watch (despite the delay), we are still glad when the manoeuvre is finally over and we get to sit down in our reserved (coach) seats. It's a slow, rocky ride along the winding tracks to Hsipaw and across the famous Goteik viaduct.

Travel Log Myanmar Goteik Viaduct

Sponsors wanted: the impressive 100-year-old Goteik viaduct is due for a renovation

The best deal in town

Traveling by train through Burma is by far the least expensive mode of transport. You can't beat $1.50 per person for coach (business class was unfortunately not available)

Hsipaw - Rum Sour, Mrs Popcorn, Mrs Lily, Little Bagan

We finally arrive in Hsipaw in the evening -- with a few hours delay -- and spend the night at Hotel Lily's (<<--TIP!!). Lily's is by far the most beautiful hotel we stay at on our Burma trip: competent and courteous staff, nice rooms and great pancakes for breakfast.

Like many other travellers we are quite taken by Hsipaw and decide to stay longer than planned.

Hsipaw is indeed a very inviting place. During the day you can rent bicycles to explore the city. There's a small field with a number of overgrown pagodas as well as a monastery. If you're tired of visiting pagodas, you can stroll around the field (called Little Bagan) and spend some time in Mrs Popcorn's beautiful garden (see below for more info).

In the evening you can ride your bicycle along the Old Burma Road to Sunset Point and look at, well, the sunset. Or, alternatively, you can go down to the river and drink a Myanmar beer or rum sour in one of the restaurants.

The Candle Light Market in Hsipaw is also worth a visit. It's also nice to cool off for a change. It's so cool, in fact, that at 4am (when the Candle Light Market begins) the Burmese locals run around in hats and scarfs! It's hard to believe but true.

Unwinding in Mrs. Popcorn's garden

Hsipaw Travel Log - Unwinding in Mrs. Popcorn's garden

If you've had enough of pagodas and hectic travel arrangements, you can grab one of the comfy lounge chairs in Mrs Popcorn's cosy garden and relax with some homemade ice tea (served with clean, store-bought ice, as we've been assured) and/or pet one of the many cats that roam the area.

Look up Mrs. Popcorn

The Candle Light Market in Hsipaw

If you want to buy fresh food from the market, you need to get up early (at least that's what we've learnt). The Candle Light Market (which starts at 4am in total darkness) is well worth a visit. It's pleasantly cool at this time of day -- so cool, in fact, that I had to wear a light jacket, believe it or not. We spent the morning tasting various delicious cakes and making some sound recordings of the busy Burmese market.

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