Pronounced ‚Si‘ (like the Spanish word ‚si‘, said with a lisp) Poor (pronounced the English way)… Hsipaw is a lovely small trekking town to while away a few days as I did back in August. The town is in Shan State, Burma, about 200 kms north east of Mandalay and is a picturesque centre for hiking.
Apart from the attractions within the town itself, one of the popular treks on offer is a ten hour trek up to a Palaung village called Pankamu 1250 metres up in the hills. That meant an 800 metre climb from Hsipaw which is situated at 450m. No very steep inclines, just a fairly long trudge in heavily humid weather (without rain fortunately) and temperatures reaching late 20’s even at that high altitude, though it felt much hotter. Thank goodness for the little old fashioned hand fan I had taken along!
Our trek took us past corn fields, rice fields, banana plantations and tea plantations. At the entance to the village, as is ubiquitous throughout Burma, we saw a shrine with offerings to ‚nats‘ who are spirits whose right side it is better to stay on, so the locals say.
We were able to taste the green tea growing nearby and I even bought some to take home, for a pittance. The way the tea was prepared was to first dry fry it on a pan for a few mins and then to brew it in boiling water before serving. Invigorating stuff.
A simple lunch of rice and cooked vegetables with some tasty papadum-like crisps was prepared by the village chief’s wife and we then wandered around the village straying into a classroom in action where the kids were more than happy to pose for some pictures.
The ten hour trek extended to closer to eleven hours as we stopped off for a very refreshing cool Mandalay beer on the way back. Interestingly, we noticed that the locals were drinking Chinese beer rather than the local stuff. It’s much cheaper, they told us …. but not as tasty!
The day trek, including lunch , cost ten thousand kyat per person. I was in Burma during a time when the rate for the dollar was very poor, so at about 700 kyat to the dollar, that would work out at just over $14.