TAKING A RIDE TO INDAWGYI LAKE, KACHIN STATE, NORTHERN BURMA
After an enjoyable sojourn in Mandalay, it was time to depart for the arduous train journey to Kachin State in northern Burma. There sits the largest natural lake in the country, Indawgyi, and one of the biggest in south east Asia. Hosting an array of spectacular bird life that includes the largest flighted bird in the world - the rare Sarus Crane - it was sure to be one of the highlights of my trip.
But first the train ride. 16 hours of bone-shattering, insomnia-inducing travel. It’s the only way a foreign tourist can get there as the roads are deemed unsafe due to civil unrest between the Kachin Independence Army and the Burmese military, a conflict that’s been ongoing for decades.
We eventually disembarked at the town of Hopin, an hour’s plus minibus ride to the lake and the surrounding villages. It was cold as we waited for the driver to pick up fellow passengers. Fortunately we’d purchased a blanket in Mandalay!
Hopping on at Hopin, the ride took us through forested hills, paddy fields and nondescript villages before we reached the entrance to the area that surrounds the lake. We stopped at a military post, our passports were checked and we headed down into the valley, the lake shrouded in thick cloud obscuring it’s beauty.
The clouds had lifted as we arrived in Lon-Ton village, the only permissible place to stay by the lake. Better than one hoped, the Phyu Homestay was comfortable, clean and fitted with good mosquito nets. No hot water unfortunately but one needs to live with that sometimes. I would stay here in my own little paradise for a few days.