I woke up early in on day 5 in Mandalay, had a quick bite ad went a few blocks away to a corner intersection where I was to pick up transport north to Pyin Oo Lwin. Pyin Oo Lwin is a former British "rest and relaxation" town, very peaceful with gorgeous gardens, various fruit wineries and somehow it's able to escape the heat of Myanmar and stay cool while every other city is on fire.
i was to ride on the back of a pickup truck to get there and I had a few minutes before we took off (first you wait for the truck to get near full, then you leave) so I went out and bought a small pillow to sit on as those hard wooden or metal benches don't feel so good on your ass after an hour or more. When I came back, there was still time to wait so I went to a local semi-posh hotel and asked for the wifi password, which they gave me. Nice to check in every few days if I can to let loved ones know I'm alive.
The ride was scenic and fun, the locals not so used to big white people riding with them this way but didn't seem to really care. I had planned to stay in Pyin Oo Lwin but I soon found out that I could spend a few hours there, do the highlights and then head north to Hsipaw. So I went off to the Chinese Temple as it's on the list of to see places. Why, I'm not sure. It's a weird modern day take on a chinese temple with everything made in cement and horrible off-colors. But there were a monkey and baboon in the back which I really liked to see. One of the burmese offered the monkey some betel nut and the monkey took it and ate the tobacco leaf with it. Shortly after he went a little mental.
From there I headed to the Shan market, another specialty of the area. When I got there, I couldn't figure out what was the big deal. It was a typical market, not offering anything special or different. Maybe I was there on an off day. I headed back to my bus area and stopped on the way to pick up some fresh mangosteens and also a local beef jerky of some sort for the ride. I passed a few of the horse drawn carriages, a common form of transportation in smaller Burmese cities. At the waiting area I bought some local damson wine (it turned out to be pretty tasty) and grabbed lunch (Which didn't turn out to be so tasty.) Eventually my bus came and I headed up to Hsipaw to see what was around that area.