When I decided to head off an adventure to Myanmar I only had a vague idea about what a 3-week journey would look like. I knew there were ancient temples and pagodas and floating villages but the rest was going to be a discovery.
Each town I have stopped at has been something different. There are just so many different things to do in Myanmar. This week I’ve been in Hpa An, a developing town amidst limestone mountains and a huge river. It is kind of like Vang Vieng in Laos, without the parties and drinking. During the day there are hikes, caves, lagoons and hot springs to explore and during the night there is…. well nothing.
Constant power outage, a lack of tourism infrastructure, and a unique set of cultural, religious, and traditional norms mean that Hpa An has hardly any night activity at all. Last night at 7 pm, I walked the streets looking for a place to eat and the whole town had shut down because of a power outage. I ate ramen noodles from the one grocery store operating off a generator. I’m having a great time here and I don’t travel for the parties but this is a unique place for sure.
The highlights of this week have been getting out on two hikes. After all this travel I’ve realized that hiking is definitely my favorite activity no matter the country. So maybe I should do more of that as I continue to travel around Myanmar.
Hpan Pu mountain was an epic little trek across the river from Hpa An. I wrote a full blog post about it here. Here are the photos from our short journey crossing the river and hiking up to the stupa at the summit.
The second hike we did was a little bit more intense. At 3:10 in the morning we woke up and jumped on our moped heading toward Mt. Zwegabin, the tallest peak in the region. It’s a pretty grueling hike up countless stairs for about 1.5 hours in the ridiculous jungle humidity.
At the top, there’s a monastery where we sat and waited for the clouds to burn off so we could enjoy the view. Five hours we waited patiently before we could finally see the epic cliffs around the monastery. During these five hours of hiking in Myanmar, I had many crazy standoffs with some huge monkeys. Tip: Don’t eat cookies while monkeys are around unless you are ready to brawl.
Tomorrow we will head to Yangon, where once again I will try and get my camera fixed. After a couple of nights, I’m off to Sri Lanka to work with the tourism board on an adventure travel campaign for 12 days with some old friends!
Hope you all had a good week!