Our next destination was Hsipaw town. To go there we took a bus to Mandalay. For 10 dollars it was super-mega bus with air condition, large sits, free water and David Copperfield show!
Due to Myanmar tradition, the bus arrived to Mandalay at a night time. The other problem was bus station. Mandalay have few highway bus stations and all of the, located few kilometers from each other. The bus to Hsipaw will departure in 6 a.m. from the one bus station, but we arrive to another at 5 a.m. Taxis were offered for 5-7 dollars but it was very expensive for us. One local guy agreed to drive us by his motorbike for 1500 kiat.
The tickets from Mandalay to Hsipaw cost us 6000 per person and the trip took 6,5 hours.
To be honest we did not like Hsipaw so much, Kalaw was much interesting and quite. The hills around Hsipaw are also popular for trekking and hiking. We done some small treks to hot spring and through some villages, they was very good.
Vanilla sunset in Hsipaw:
On next morning after freezing night we moved to Golden Kalaw Inn, where we got a pleasant room on second floor with veranda for 8 dollar, very good breakfast was included too.
Kalaw we saw as a small and nice town without crowds of locals and traffic jams. It is very popular to do the trek from Kalaw to Inle lake (about 60 km), or just walk around for a trekking day. Every place in town can provide an information and guide. Prices start from USD 10 per day per person, depends on how many people in a group. We did not want to have any experience with local guides and we got a plan to do trek by our own. But, we was so unprepared: we had no warm cloth, no tent or sleeping bag, no even compass, nothing! We had not even maps, the only one hand drawing map in our hotel.
For shopping we had to wait market day, it happened every five days, the rest days it holding in some other villages. After we made the pictures of all maps we could find around, we went to day trek to View Point restaurant. The do some kind of test-drive of our abilities.
It was very pleasant to trek there. We very fast finished the one part from Kalaw to View Point, where we rest a bit. The way back we took another another trail, and got lost. There are a lot of villages around and a lot of foot trails too. We lost for a about 10-15 km and realized this only at 6 pm. Hopefully we came back by night time. The plan to go trek to Inle Lake had crushed, but seems it was the right decision.
There is very good restaurant in Kalaw — Sam`s restaurant, where good is delicious and cheap. It is a family business and all of the family members are pleased to visitors, wonderful carries with complimentary deserts, yummy. Opposite the road there is Everest kitchen, restaurant of Nepali food. The prices are high, the food is not so testy, and no Nepali steaks.
All together we spent around 5 days in Kalaw, mostly because we liked this place very much.