Stop 18: Hsipaw

Mr. Charles hostel had surprisingly a pickup service from the train station. It does make sense since we ended up being 7 people in the truck.

In the hostel I got into conversation with Shoya, a Japanese linguistic graduate who worked in a food truck, and did a working holiday year in Australia (Ofc he thought first that I am Japanese). We also talked about raeggae music and that a signature sound in it is actually played with the guitar. He might start to work in Thailand soon.

Since all trekking routes are closed down(some conflicts and gunfights), there is not much to do in town. At breakfast I got in touch with Marloes, a dutch girl who travelled all the way from Russia by taking the trans siberian train. She seemed so easy to have a conversation with and a few moments later, I found myself gambling with the tour guides playing a local version of blackjack called 8 or 9. Basically all players take turns to be the dealer for 5 rounds. Each round the rest of the players place their bets on the table to play against the dealer. With 2 cards, if you get 8 or 9 (Face cards count as 10, all sum above 10 gets deducted to single digit, ace can be both one or 11), you need to show your hand. If the sum of your hand is below (I believe 5), you have to hit another card. If the kind (Club etc.) of your hand is the same, the payout is doubled or tripled.

I also met Cathlyn, an Australian Physiotherapist. She seemed funny at the dinner where she made a joke when a fly got into her cleavage where she said: at least someone likes them. But The next day we went to little Bagan together where she told me stories about the girl she works with, a New Zealand girl who qualified for the Olympics for NZ but someone more talented got chosen. She mentioned how she didn’t enjoy the job that much since she was basically  her slave. She basically just carried her skis and gave her massages. She complained how this is a sport that rich people can affors and the girl just didnt  want to grow up to take up other responsibilities. When Iemade my notes, I thiught that I wound’t remember her somehow but at the time of the writing I surprisingly remember lots of details. Also how she went to the local superMarket to get an easter present for her sister.

There are only that many places that you can go to in Hsipaw. We usually hang out at Mr. Shake (Funny how most places here start with Mr./Mrs.) to have a fruit shake. There some local tour guides told me more about their stories.

The guy on right used to unload trucks for 10k Kyats a day. He also tried smuggling motorbikes from the chinese border. A group of 20ish people would go to the other side of the border and get bikes to drive them back to Mandalay to sell. However they need to be fast and need to deliver the bikes wthout scratch within 36 hours. The roads from the border is bumpy and need to go up to 80 km/h in order to make it. If you fall behind, you will not get any money. If you fall on the way, you need to pay the repair yourself. And such a risky job just gives him 25 dollars a ride. Jeez. We also played some magic tricks and solved some riddles. Thanks to Fabian back at SCS and Tao, I was able to give the guys some hard problems to solve.

The kid at Mr. shake apparently dropped out of school. He likes to mess around with people and just being naughty. I guess this is also one of the reason why many people kept coming back. It is fun to have a paper-canon pipe war with/against him.

The Shan palace was also interesting. We met Donald who is surely 60 year old, the nephew of the last prince. He just got out of the prison in January this year, after 13 years of restricted freedom. Just because he was talking to backpackers back in the days. Now that he is out again, he is doing the same thing. He says that the best way he can fight against the system is to use his pen. There is also a used-to-be forbidden book written by the last princess of Shan state (Who is Austrian). It doesn’t talk well about the government (the reason it was banned). Donald says it is the backpackers who always helped him and how it is the backpackers who come to see the country and let others know how poorly they live. He showed us pictures how he restored his traktor and how some Australian dude brought him parts. And he was not too friendly towards the Chinese either. He fears that Myanmar will be too dependent on the Chinese suppliers, which might already be the case. What surprised me was that the electricity the close dam produced is 90% sold to China when half the country is without electricity.

This is the prince himseld with the Austrian princess.

There was also Luis, whom Cathrine didn’t like much. He joined our dinner as well at Mrs. Popcorn and put a lot of bashing statements (such as these are shit, these are good) on the table where all can attack these statements. I found it rather amusing to bash back a bit, for everyone’s entertainment. He took it well so it benefited the group.

The last day I got myself a bike and cycled a bit in the countryside. The garbage still annoys me… Look at this… If Southeast Asia countries can finally fix this … When it rains, all the garbage gets flushed into the sea and we will find more dead whales with 50kg plastics in their stomach ..

Me, drafted most somewhere along the road in Laos, finishing it up in Pakse, having slipped on the stairs today and hit my back of my head against the ground, hoping not to become dumb …


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