What to Expect When Trekking in Kyaukme, Myanmar with Thura

Check out the sign! It's my favorite. It says GOODBYE FOR ALL HUMAN!Photo credit: Dominik M. Ramík

If you are coming from Mandalay, I suggest you go to the bus station really early like 7am or earlier. Once you miss the bus your next choice is to get a shared taxi. I paid 6,000 kyat (1000kyat cheaper than the locals) for my six hours shared taxi ride. You can also get to Kyaukme by train.

I stayed at the Northern Rock on a fan twin room for 7,500 kyat a day. The owner who is a doctor and his wife speaks good English and arranged our tour with Thura.

I originally planned a 3 day and 2 night trek in Kyaukme heading to Hsipaw but when I was in the area in May there was an insurgency. The people from upland were running from the rebels and evacuating to the town on the very day we were supposed to head up and see the mountain tribes! A week before we arrived a tourist even got hurt in a crossfire.

I did not book anything in advance for the entire trip. Yes it does sound irresponsible but the spontaneity allowed me to be flexible and also saved me a couple of buckaroos! It was not peak season after all.

So plans changed...

Here is what to expect in a typical trek with Thura in Kyaukme:

1. The more the merrier.

The more people are on the trek, the better because prices will go down. I was lucky to join a couple of girls from Malta who booked in advance.

2. Learn how to drive a motorbike on the spot.

And if you are lucky enough, you might also get the infamous Southeast Asian tattoo...which is a scar memorabilia from a motorbike crash!

3. Bike through beautiful scenery.

Photo credit: Dominik M. Ramík

Photo credit: Dominik M. Ramík

You will be biking through rice fields, rough roads, mountains and friendly locals smiling and waving at you.
Photo credit: Dominik M. Ramík

You will see the daily lives of the local and you can even stop by and gate crash a wedding like I did. 

4. Tea plantations everywhere.

Photo credit: Dominik M. Ramík

Most of the locals here are tea planters and they have been doing it for generations!

5. Pickled tea leaf salad.

Image via the hungarybuddha
Known locally as laphet thoke, this Burmese tea leaf salad has a subtle bitter taste but otherwise it is delicious. The fermented tea leaves are mixed with nuts so expect it to be a bit crunchy.

6. Taking breaks in roadside cafes.

Photo credit: Dominik M. Ramík

These cafes dot the road and locals make a frequent stop here. The best part is these are located on the edges of the cliff so you can see the mountains beyond and the valleys below while drinking free tea and taking a snack. My favorite was a puffy carameled treat.

7. Meet, greet and sleep with the Palaung Tribe.

This was not the tribe we were supposed to visit but they are so hospitable that they accommodated us for the night. The old woman is so much fun. She speaks no English so we just bonded through sign language. We can hear gun fires from the fighting in the nearby villages from here.

8. Maybe meet another minority like the Nepalese.

Photo credit: Dominik M. Ramík

The Nepalese in Burma are another minority that just intermarries among themselves. They came with the British hundreds of years ago and live in houses made of cow dung. They also work in the tea fields.

9. Meet some animals

Horses that you have to shoo off the road. Photo credit: Dominik M. Ramík
Burmese cat in Myanmar. Photo credit: Dominik M. Ramík
Holy cow! Photo credit: Dominik M. Ramík
Carabao. Photo credit: Dominik M. Ramík

10. Dress in the local costume.

Photo credit: Dominik M. Ramík

If you ask the locals kindly, they will gladly dress you up in their local garb! It is one of the best cultural experience for me as I see how the women pays to tiny details and what they consider beautiful in their culture. The clothes also has a lot of symbolism and meaning tied to it. The Palaung's costume is meant to mimic a dragon.

So that is how a typical trek in Kyaukme with Thura looks like. And since ours was atypical due to security reasons, we took a different route and visited the following places:
Photo credit: Dominik M. Ramík

1. Go Teik Viaduct
2. The Silk Farm

Coming at you in my next post!!!

Like this? You will also like these:
U Bein's Teak Bridge, Amarapura near Mandalay
10 Things to Know When in Bagan
Top Fun Things to Do in Mandalay in One Day


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