April 26, 2016 3:50PM (JST)
Day 2: Trekking
December 25, 2015 [Christmas!]
For the first time since departing Yangon for Hsipaw, we slept very well. It was very dark in the night with no Internet and limited electricity when we were about to sleep. We talked for a while and then everyone slept quickly.
At around 6AM, we woke up to the ringing phone alarm. Even though we slept enough – for maybe like 9-10 hours, we all were cringing to sleeping more. After reluctantly waking up, we quickly packed our belongings and went to the table for breakfast. It was very similar to the food we ate the previous day – lots of vegetables, no meat. Mitch told us that the second day would have different terrain, so was the third day – we should be excited to see different view. It was also Christmas Day and none of us felt sad but rather joy that we could actually spend time trekking in Myanmar on Christmas, something that we have never done in our lives.
We said goodbye to our host. It was sad watching the host smiling at us yet I (actually, all of us, too tired to speak and possibly not knowing what to say, or not sure if she speaks English) did not talk to her much. We must follow our schedule and reach our destination planned for the day.
First half of the trek was roughly similar to the previous day – the elevation was higher. The road was similar. Without the guide, we would ultimately get lost, since there were paths splitting up into several pathways. We had several snack and tea breaks along the way. Rita and I, as usual, took opportunities to take photos with locals whenever possible. Geoffrey had a camera/video camera similar to a GoPro. He took some turns to take video of us walking along the paths, by setting the camera on the branches or other areas where the GoPro can be set to take photo of us with the beautiful view in the background. Geoffrey and I did not get along very well so he did not take much scenes of me, but mostly on Rita, who I thought he seemed to have some interest in. I spent most of my time taking photos all by myself while walking along.
Around noon and late afternoon, the scenery gradually became more forested with wider dirt roads. I asked Mitch to take photo of me at some point since all of others were talking with each other quite loudly and I did not want to interrupt them. Mitch and I chatted a bit but I wanted to enjoy the view so he joined others. I was envious that they could talk to each other freely, but I was used to be alone and in the nature, so let it be.
Overall, the second day was the longest of three days, with greater kilometers and steeper than the first day, but not so much. It was just a gradual inclined trail. We walked at about the same speed as the previous day, but not hurried. We ended up arriving at our place to sleep right before the sun set down. We saw that there was a bathing place where local people were bathing. It was an open area where both men and women bathed with some clothes on to cover their bodies. Fabian and Geoffrey were determined to take a quick shot of cold/cool water on them and refresh from the heat and trip. The girls – Marta, Rita, and I refused, obviously to the fact that we did not want to change into new clothes and did not mind in our current state. Both boys said they could not continue without changing into new clothes – in fact, we were all in the same outfit since the start of the trek. I did not know whether it was the girls who were foolish or the boys who were cleaner than girls. We decided to go and rest a bit at the house and set down our belongings and come back to the bath while everyone else finished with their cleaning while there was still light.
We waited for the boys to get ready. The boys quickly grabbed bath towels and change for clothing. We brought headlamps with us and off we went. True to our prediction, there was very few at the bathing area and all of them were men. It was almost completely dark by this time. The girls fooled around and Rita took random photos with the boys while bathing with Fabian’s DSLR. Rita just looked about and we all laughed while the boys told us not to look at them while they were changing into fresh clothes. I was just standing there along with the girls and shared the same laughs.
After watching the boys having a bath, we all went back to the house and Mitch announced that dinner was ready. Again, the food was similar, but not so many varieties of pumpkin, but other additional local freshly grown Asian vegetables. After dinner, we gratefully thanked the owner and we relaxed by listening to Christmas songs stored on Geoffrey’s phone. Mitch was somewhat familiar with the songs and we all talked about the difference in Christmas tradition in our countries. Interestingly enough, there was some Internet connection, as shown accordingly on our phones – just one or two 3G bars. We tried to send messages to our families for a Merry Christmas. Not sure if it worked or not, but we saved our messages and decided to send the next day when we arrived at our hotel, since it would still be the Eve in our countries – well, except for me, since Japan and Myanmar are practically next to each other.
After wonderful dinner at the dining table, we sat outside. We bought beer from the owner and share stories. Rita and Mitch largely talked about detailed topics, such as lives of people in Myanmar and cultural unrest when there were civil wars and before it gained independence with the gate opened to the world. I was listening in the beginning but I was too tired and unfortunately, did not focus on the conversation, as I almost dozed off. While we were talking, there were a middle-aged local man who seemed to have some mental issues. He wanted to take photo with us so we set off and took photo with him. It was funny how he wanted to take photo with me randomly and people joked that he liked me. (So was at the village we visited the previous day) – Though, he also took photos with only boys and girls separately. At least, we broke off the serious conversation and had hilarious time with this random local man.
After the talk, just like the day prior, we had a very nice long sleep that we would not have slept otherwise.