Sometimes we write these blogs out of order, so I don’t know if we’ve already covered just how hot it is here. It’s so hot that it makes you wonder whether you’re a part of some Buddhist parable where a person with bad karma is forced to wander the earth, sweating, for the rest of his life. Definitely well over 100 degrees and humid.
We headed up to Hsipaw (pronounced ‘see-paw’), where we are right now, because it’s a “hill station” which is the term that the British gave every higher altitude area in their tropical colonies where they could go to cool off. Actually, though, there’s no hill here. It’s just a higher altitude plain, but the point is that we thought we’d be able to cool off here. Sigh. It’s still hot here.
Hsipaw is in Shan state, which, like every other region of the country that is on the border, has its own ethnic minority, in this case the Shan. The Shan once ruled an area reaching into Laos, China, Thailand and Cambodia, and remain very proud of that tradition. In fact, after independence from the British, the large Shan state opted for rule by its royalty, the Shan prince. There’s a lovely story about the last Shan prince who went to study in Europe. He met an Austrian woman there, they fell in love, married, and then he took her to Myanmar. When they reached Rangoon, crowds of delighted Shan people saw him and started a large parade because their prince had come home. His wife was confused and suggested to her husband that some famous person must be nearby. It was at that point that he told her that he was, in fact, a prince and the ruler of his people. Sadly, during the military takeover, the prince was killed. His wife, who had learned the Shan language and is still loved by her people, moved to Colorado where she lives today (she’s 82 years old). Her children, who live in the USA as well, are not considered royalty, so the thousand year old Shan royal line is broken, with the last living member an Austrian living in Colorado.
We arrived in the early afternoon with Dave and Laura, our very easy-going Kiwi travel buddies. We all agreed to take an afternoon hike to a waterfall, which proved a tiring and sweaty walk, but was rewarded by a very cool (and very muddy) swim. By the time we hiked back to the town of Hsipaw, night had fallen and it had cooled off enough for us to be truly comfortable for the first time since getting to Myanmar.