Vertigo sufferers need not apply!
Although this place is actually many miles away from Hsipaw, I've had to include it here as the VT machinery doesn't allow for a Goktiek page. In fairness, it's not so much of a problem as the only way you are going to see this amazing sight is if you are travelling on the Hsipaw - Mandalay train.
This remarkable structure was built for the British colonial power in 1903 by the Pennsylvania Steel company. Amazingly, given the obvious logistical problems and the scale of the project, it only took nine months to complete.
I had read in my guide book that the insurance policy for the viaduct provided by the British had long since expired, which certainly focused the mind as you approach it. The views are quite stunning and the vertigo almost overpowering (I'm not good with exposed heights). Unfortunately, the photography doesn't quite do it justice as there is nothing to give you a sense of scale. Take my word for it, it is very high!
Theoretically, you are not supposed to photograph anywhere near the viaduct. Apparently it's some sort of military secret, albeit that a quick Google search pulls up 78 images of it. Bizarrely enough, the man in the seat next to me who happened to be a military officer (I didn't have a choice in this, although he seemed civil enough) actually offered to swap seats with me as we approached so I could get a better picture!
Take a walk.
One of the great things about Hsipaw is getting out of it, and I don't mean that unkindly at all. A short walk in almost any direction will take you to small communities which appear to be fairly unvisited by Westerners. I went for a pretty long walk one afternoon / evening and didn't see another traveller. Furthermore, the reaction of the local people indicated to me that I was something of a rarity.
I wouldn't like to suggest any particular itinerary. If you need advice on where to go, the ever-helpful Mr. Charles, of Mr. Charles guesthouse fame, or one of his friendly staff will draw you a map. I would suggest either the early morning or evening as the best time to go, as the heat of midday can make walking very tiring. Also be sure to take ample water with you (and food if you want it) as there will be no opportunities to re-supply on the way.
Have a look at my Hsipaw travelogue for a few further pictures of what was a wonderful ramble in the country.
By the way, look closely at the photo. I was really taken by the small carved birds head on the front of the cart. Just one of the many, many small things that make Myanmar so special.
- Hiking and Walking
- Budget Travel