I tried to trek with Mr. Bike in Hsipaw, but those days they weren’t doing the trek due to some celebrations in the village the trekkers are supposed to sleep in. So, I did my Hsipaw trekking with Ko Pee, and don’t regret it at all. I’m glad I didn’t go with Mr. Bike. – Ko Pee is the name of the Hsipaw trekking company associated with Mr. Charles.
Luckily, Ko Pee had enough people for me to join a group during the Hsipaw trekking days. I did the 3 days, 2 nights trek for 60000 Kyats. I didn’t see anyone at Lily’s guest house the previous day, so I was afraid there will be no people to join the trek, but apparently everybody is sleeping at the same place: Mr. Charles Hostel. I recommend you stay there as they save your things during the Hsipaw trekking with Ko Pee.
There were actually two groups doing the same trek starting the same day. We were 4 in my group: an Indian woman, another one from Trinidad and Tobago, and a Swiss guy that surprisingly had volunteered in Mu Aye Pu, the same place I would go a few weeks later. Our trekking guide – Omong – was a super friendly and attentive Palaung man that helped us a lot and told us many things about the region. He is an important person in that area, the chairman of 3 villages and with that, he has some responsibilities to the Shan army, or whatever, I still think Myanmar history is complicated and hard to get nowadays.
Hsipaw trekking – 1st-day
We depart at about 9 am on the day we started our Hsipaw trekking. We leave on a Myanmar bus that drops us on the place where we should start the trekking. The weather looks much better, and I still hope it is not going to rain today. We trek for about 2 hours until we reach the break spot where we have some biscuits and tea. The scenery is undoubtedly beautiful. The mountains and the surrounding area during this trek are really worthwhile. Walking with such a view is truly rewarding and that’s why trekking in Myanmar is so nice, besides the fact that people are really nice too. I have done the trek from Inle Lake to Kalaw 1 year ago, and people usually asked me which trek is better. Well, I can say that the landscape is very similar, but maybe the trek in Inle Lake has more different colors to admire in the same landscape frame. There are also way more huge spiders hanging in Inle trek, but that is not a problem at all. So, if you ask me for a favorite, I actually can’t tell. They are both amazingly beautiful and rewarding. Mostly it will depend on the group you will be doing it with.
So, after that short break, we walked for about 2 more hours until we stop to have lunch. One of the highlights of this trek was definitely the food. The food was always so delicious and so diverse that I have absolutely nothing to complain about. The portions were also big, and I don’t see a better way to try local food as those villagers are cooking for us as they would cook for themselves.
The sky is getting darker during our lunch with a sweet, smiley lady, but we still decide to proceed hoping that the rain will spare us. We were wrong.
We still have 2 more hours to go and reach the village where we will sleep, and those 2 hours trekking were under the rain. Most part of the time the rain wasn’t heavy, but walking on not heavy rain for 2 hours still gets you wet. I actually think it rains in the worst part of the trek, the forest part. The worst because of the steep path where we weren’t able to stop sliding all the way down. There was just no place to put our feet on that muddy trek. I remember sliding and not being able to stop so I kneed closer to the ground to avoid any tragedy. I got myself very dirty and wet during this part of the trek. In fact, all my belongings got too wet. Trekking under such conditions was dangerous and worrying. I could see the worried expression of our guide along the way. He was truly concern and managed to help us all getting to the destination safely sometimes putting himself in not so safe positions. You are not able to enjoy the surroundings as you can’t get your eyes off the ground, but the challenge made us laugh after it and conclude that it was actually the most fun part of the trek that day haha. Crazy! That’s because we always had a positive vibe during those hours under the rain.
We celebrate once we have the first sight of the village still 30 minutes away. We are tired and wet and it’s getting dark. Fortunately, we have a bonfire waiting for us when we arrive, so the first thing I did was changing clothes to the only dry thing I have with me: My pajamas. We had some tea and cookies around the bonfire along with conversations about the Shan people and not only. It rains most part of the night and we were praying for sun the next day otherwise we couldn’t do 3 nights trek as previously agreed. The guesthouse had a very nice lady cooking for us and I didn’t feel any cold beside the temperatures outside being very low. The toilet is outside and a bit far from the house, but the only thing I can complain of is the fact that Myanmar’s houses have kitchens running on fire inside the house. That was a problem because at maybe 5 am, I start feeling the smell of smoke invading my nostrils. That wasn’t pleasant at all and bothered me a lot actually, but I understand it is their way of living and it wasn’t for that long. Actually, this very fact leads me to have one of the best pictures, or most mystical ones I took, sorry I love this picture.
It was caught during the very few 2 minutes that the effect lasts. The sunrays invaded the kitchen that was filled with smoke, and through the holes of the bamboo house, the light created a magical effect that I haven’t seen before anywhere else. It was just so beautiful to watch. Whimsical. I just pity it didn’t last long. I would just stare at it for hours. Oh, and did I mention the incredible view when I get up? Damn! The sun is rising behind the mountain, and the clouds are still covering it. It’s just the perfect view to wake up, and having tea while contemplating it has no price. What a beautiful place these people live in. If only they knew that many of us, westerners, that for them are all rich and live good, would give anything to have the peace and view they have everyday…
Hsipaw trekking – 2nd-day
The second day of the Hsipaw trekking starts with sunshine and we bless the skies for it. On this day we also walked for approximately 6 hours with the same routine as the day before: 2 hours- tea break- 2 hours- lunch break- 2 hours- dinner. It was equally beautiful and we needed to cross some checkpoints. That’s why you can’t do this trek on your own, you wouldn’t be allowed to go further the checkpoints on your own. And what are checkpoints? Those are places with many soldiers that sit there all day looking around and paying attention to any suspicious move.
This day we cross some villages and all of them have an entrance very noticeable with some kind of a gate with knives or some sharp utensil hanging. From there on the bad spirits can’t enter and you are safe. They believe that they are protected. They believe in many kinds of spirits. When you leave the village the same type of gate can be seen, you are out there unprotected from the spirits now haha
We were very lucky as no raindrop fell from the sky on the second Hsipaw trekking day. However, this day has a very boring part of the trek with so many trees around that you can’t actually have any view. Besides being a wide road, the amount of rocks on the floor doesn’t make it more comfortable. I did some part of the trek with my slippers on as I am afraid that if I have blisters I will not be able to finish this trek as it happened before from Inle Lake to Kalaw. So this time, I put several plasters in between my toes and areas I remember I had blisters before, and I managed to end this 3 days trek with only 2 small blisters YUPI! I was very afraid my feet wouldn’t handle this trek, that’s why I used 20 plasters to prevent anything from happening before it was too late.
The second day of this Hsipaw trekking rewarded us with a magnificent sunset in the mountains while the brownish crops turned into gold as the sun went down. So truly beautiful. I was so grateful for that sunset with that amazing landscape. I managed to finish the second trekking day with my pajamas, slippers, and socks on. Stylish!
The night rewarded us too, but this time with countless stars. I have seen a sky like this once before: in a village in the mountains also during a trek in Myanmar. Sitting at the bonfire having tea while contemplating the stars felt really good. This time the two groups joined and we were 8 trekkers sleeping in this place that ended up being too cold. I could barely sleep as I was feeling cold all night long.
Hsipaw trekking – 3rd-day
On the third and last day, the wake-up view wasn’t that great as the previous morning, but this place showed us other things we hadn’t have before, so it was totally balanced I would say. After an amazing breakfast, we took off together this time: 8 people and two trekking guides. We walk until lunch break for about 4 hours. The views on the third day are also very beautiful and different from the previous days. It’s incredible how you pass through so many different types of landscapes during this trek: mountains, farms, villages, forests, flat land until your eyes can’t see longer, and limestone cliffs that stand amazingly next to the path.
On the last day we have two options: go to the hot springs, or, go to a waterfall. The trek to the waterfall would be longer than the hot springs, but that wasn’t the reason why we decided to go to the hot springs instead. We were having a cold shower the past two days, so warm water to relax on would be perfect, but It wasn’t. We do the last 20 minutes before reaching the hot springs on a Myanmar bus and that’s where we will have lunch. Once we have the first sight of the hot springs we can’t believe our eyes. Is this the hot springs for real? Basically it looks like a water tank in the middle of a not so beautiful place- it’s not surrounded by nature- where Burmese are having a shower etc. There is one side for women and another for men. They can’t mix. The place is small and not appealing and cause of that we end up not going in. These hot springs are not inviting at all… Please don’t chose the hot springs, I can guarantee you you will not get in to enjoy the hot water.
After having lunch here, shan noodles- oh shan noodles are sooo damn delicious!!!– we finished the trek by Myanmar bus again until the city center where the bus drops us off at Mr. Charles guesthouse. I really enjoyed this Hsipaw trekking and advice you to do it with Ko Pee. These people really need tourists to go there as because of the death of a foreigner the town got very empty, and tourists stop going. They need our help to improve their lives. If you want I can give you my guide direct contact. He is such a nice person and knows so much about Shan state. I can guarantee you you will learn a lot from him. Plus, he is fun and will not leave you behind!
We were back at the Hostel by 3 pm and the first thing I did was take a hot shower that felt like heaven. The hostel has a little veranda facing the sun, so it was a perfect place to chill after 3 days of walking. I will sleep there the same night and the next morning I will hop on the train from Hsipaw to Pyin OO Lwin.
Here’s my video of those days: