Loikaw was a place I missed to visit the previous times, so no excuse on my third time in Myanmar. There is only one bus per day going from Mandalay to Loikaw and it departs at 7 pm. It is a VIP sleeping bus. No other options. I actually wanted to reach Loikaw by train, but the train in Loikaw doesn’t work anymore- told by a local in Loikaw.
They needed to check at Ostello Bello, where I bought the ticket if I can go, I don’t know why. It seems like no one goes there, and I can confirm that not many people visit this pacific town. Well, it is pacific for us foreigners, cause I am sure that many conflicts might still happen as it is an area with many tribes and different traditions.
The bus departed a little bit before 7 pm because every passenger was already on board. I’m the only foreigner there, nothing new. The VIP bus has comfortable seats that can recline a little, but the most uncomfortable thing was really how freezing it was inside the bus. I don’t know why they keep the buses at such low temperatures. As I already know about this, I wore a sweater, but they also have blankets on board but it wasn’t enough. I couldn’t sleep cause I was freezing, mostly my nose. But what was worrying me was the arrival time. The bus arrived at 5 am, and I was honestly scared that I would have no way to go to my hostel at that time. Loikaw is not a touristy place.
But in Myanmar, you can feel calm about this issue and don’t stress about it. There will always be people at the bus stations waiting for passengers, no matter what time. They need that money!
There weren’t a lot of taxi drivers, but I could get one. I didn’t see any other option such as a motorbike, but at that hour and freezing cold, I wouldn’t go by motorbike anyway, so I got a car by myself. Nights can be really cold here and I didn’t remember if my Hostel had 24h/reception… At that time I’m praying that I can check-in or I’ll freeze outside.
There is only one Hostel in Loikaw- Amazing Box- it looks pretty new and it’s very comfy with a nice rooftop view. I can clearly see that Loikaw is not a choice for many travelers as I spent 2 nights in a 6-bed dorm on my own.
The hostel door was closed once I reach it at 5 am, but after a few knocks on the door, someone rises from the middle of the reception hall to open the door. I was so glad I could check in at that time and finally get some sleep in a warm room. That was precious, and as I didn’t get much sleep on the bus, this day I slept until midday. I still had time in the afternoon to walk to the famous pagoda on the hill. It is not that far from the Hostel so I spent that afternoon exploring the area, a very calm and relaxed area with great views from the pagodas that stand on the hills. There are so many, as long as you see a hill, you can be sure that it will have pagodas, so many pagodas, wow.
I didn’t stay until the best time for sunset cause I walked far from the Hostel and will have to go all the way back, the thing that I don’t want to do in the dark. This day I also tried to figure out how could I get to the villages where the Longneck women live. It was not easy cause I didn’t see many other foreigners and visiting the Longneck women is a thing that I must do on a tour otherwise it is too expensive. Going by motorbike on my own doesn’t sound good as I would have no idea who to address to talk to these women. Also, I’m afraid the streets are bad and I don’t feel that comfortable on a motorbike. After all, the streets weren’t that bad, but going by motorbike, unless you know where to find a guide that will translate things for you, will be pointless because you would go to the village and talk to no one.
When I got back to my hostel, I was lucky to meet 3 Israeli girls that told me about a student that does trips to the villages. That was my salvation, otherwise, I found no one else to join a tour. As this is not a touristy spot, tours here might be expensive, even more, if done on your own. Coming here to visit the villages on your own is not a low budget experience, so this is when I do my first guided tour in Myanmar (besides trekking).