On the second day we left Keng Tung and headed back to Mong Hpayak where the monks could get their lunch. The tiny market there had all kinds of bugs for sale , but I opted just for some fried rice and cauliflower and then we went on to Mong Yawng where we would spend the next 2 nights. This would be the most rugged part of out trip – and I mean rugged. From Hpayak to Mong Yawng is 80 KM of which 1/3 was just single wide crushed rock roads – the rest was under some kind of construction. Not too far up the road we lost the right mirror on our van – hit by a passing truck on the narrow road it ripped off the mirror but did not damage the side of the van. The dust and bumps were amazing – we had to cross over a mountain range where we came to a full stop because they were widening the road by cutting the hillside away – but we did get through and ultimately got to our newly opened “Nant Khat Guest House” in Mong Yawng. Sparse but adequate. The next morning, 5AM, we all headed to the local area market – still dark, but it was a full moon which was the biggest market day of the month – there must have been over 300 people there – go early get the best deals – all vendors were gone and the market was closed by 7:30.
Next we headed to a temple high on a hill overlooking the valley, here as with all the temples we visited, they did the usual blessing and chanting. Back to town for lunch and then on to a temple which had a original India Bodhi Tree under which Buddha achieved enlightenment. From here we headed to a “forest” temple and a dedication and then back that evening to deliver a full set of “Buddha Bibles” to the local Mong Yawng Temple. All the roads we were on this day were just dirt and extremely bumpy making travel speed about 5-10 KM/hr. Quite a day. The next morning up again at 5AM for market – Here the lady offered to sell me some “Shwe le maw” very strong Shan alcohol. then breakfast and on the road back. Got hung-up once in a new rock road area – the roller crusher hadn’t gotten there yet – but we made it through that area and on to the the major construction site where we were stopped coming in. It was passable but slow and then on to Hpayak for lunch. Here is where we spotted the deer heads, I had never seen any wild animals in all my travels in Thailand so this was a great surprise – we did pass several Burmese with homemade long barrel rifles but with my slow camera I couldn’t get a shot. Next time. Time to go home now. And I did get my passport back at the border crossing, all stamped and ready to go.
All in all great trip – meat is scarce and expensive so most Burmese meals are rice,fish and vegetables. I am amazed that although I ate very little each time, how much better I felt when I got back, tired but much more energy – in addition, all the rough roads and bouncing around actually massaged my back and all my back pain was gone. I was also worried about having to use the squat toilets but at all our major stops there were western sit toilets so that worked out ok too. Great group of people on the trip, although most spoke very limited English and I limited Thai, we did manage to communicate and actually they took special pains to see I was ok. I am looking forward to the next trip and will bring my high speed camera and opt for a front seat in a van so I can get more specific images.