MYANMAR : MANDALAY, HSIPAW
U-bein bridge near Mandalay
Mandalay is the second largest city in Myanmar after Yangon and former capital of the country. I am going to say it: I was not impressed by it at first, being a very busy and noisy city. I took my time relaxing at the nice home stay I was staying at and met great people that I would later share a bit of the road with. Escaping the bustling city to the much more relaxing U-Bein Bridge for sunset was one of the highlights of Mandalay to me. The famous bridge crossing the Taungthaman Lake was built around 1850, and is believed to be the oldest and longest teak-wood bridge in the world. I later approached a group of traditional Burmese fishermen and captured the iconic moment of them fishing using lift nets to catch fishes, with the sun coming down in the background.
U-Bein bridge near Mandalay
Traditional Burmese fisherman using a lift net
The next day me and my newly met friends went to the same place for sunrise, which gave the bridge a total different look. We later headed to Sagaing, located on the Ayeyarwady River and drove up the hill on motorcycle where many temples and pagodas are standing. I had the opportunity to enter a school and played "Chinlone" with the local kids, a traditional ball made from handwoven rattan.
School girls on their way to school in the morning
Kids playing "Chinlone"
From Mandalay I headed to Hsipaw, a lovely town in the north of Myanmar, known for its trekking opportunities. One of the great thing about hiking around Hsipaw is the fact that you find yourself away from most travelers very quickly. I took the opportunity to go up the surrounding hills, crossing an old Chinese and Buddhist cemetery, dipping my feet in the hot springs where locals like to bath and wash their cloths, and passing local villages where the Shan culture remains strong.