Friday, 23 December 2016

Inle Lake and Hsipaw

So our first evening we all went for a meal together to celebrate arriving in one piece.

The next day we decided to go hire bikes and head on up to the Vineyard nearby. You wouldn't expect Myanmar to have Vineyards right? But they do, and the wine is super tasty, you can really smell/taste those flavours!

I was still pretty ill with fever and headache and had broken out in a lovely full-body rash, but I wanted to do something so I braved it on up and looking as ravishing as I did, headed on up with the bikes, (at only
1500 kyat for the day - $1.75) a little over 15mins cycling got us to our destination.

The vineyard was cute and it offered some amazing views of Inle Lake and the surrounding town. 5000 kyat each (around $3.50) got us wine tasting and cheese and bread, the bread was questionable but we were starving and starving, plus heat, plus wine - it could have been disastrous. They brought out the wine on platters for two, two white wines and two red wines, Savignion Blanc, Muscat, Shiraz and Syrah. All of them smelt exactly as they were described and they all tasted pretty damn good to be honest!

We then had lunch beneath the trees with the views of the lake beneath us, could of spent all day there! Rebecca, Matias and Marie, a French girl from another of ever smiles trekking groups, went in search of nearby caves, but me Alex, Charline and Luca decided to head back. Alex had begun to feel very ill; headache, fever, so wanted to get back. We all decided to square up our bill and left the money plus the 5% tax for the guys who were staying however, we had just met them and they somehow didn't trust us. Aaron the English guy decided we weren't leaving until we got the bill and made sure every last bit of money was there, even though all of us knew it was correct as we'd left more than what we owed. However he wouldn't have it, 30,000 kyat is no where near enough he exclaimed, said the guy who was holidaying and on his second bottle of wine shared with Marcus a German guy and having ordered the most expensive thing on the menu. Still we got the bill, added it up and yep, there was plenty, he was even trying to deliberately add up his items wrong (no, 14 plus 14 isn't 26) to see what he could get away with not paying. Oh and mate remember that 5% tax yea? Lordy. In the end we were released to leave.

We had planned to meet at 5pm got massages, so after an afternoon of chilling in bed I met the girls downstairs and we went in search. We found a place but they didn't have enough beds for everyone so we had to split up. I ended up going for an expensive aromatherapy massage (expensive being $18), but I was ill and I really needed it after the trek so I thought what the hell. They served me tea, the massage was lovely and after I had cucumber water with fresh orange cut into pieces, so cute! The others on the other hand decided to look for cheaper but ended up having a Burmese style massage which sounded awful lol. I think Christelle made an excuse when her masseuse got a call and stood up to say, that's it, I'm finished I'm done here! Lol

That evening I was too ill to go out for dinner with everyone so I just stayed in the hostel and chatted to the lovely Burmese girl working there about Mandalay and then went to bed early.

It was around midnight I was woken by Rebecca asking if I was OK, I was, just feverish and headachy, but it was because Alex had fallen severely ill and was displaying symptoms of Malaria, and she wanted to check I wasn't either.

Her and the Chileans Matias, Roman and Gonzalo stayed up most of the night caring for him as Charline wasn't sure what to do. They got his fever down a little but early morning it was back up fiercely so they took him to the local shack of a hospital where the doctor gave him antibiotics and some more paracetamol but it wasn't working.

By 7am when me and Rebecca awoke Charline had had no sleep at all and Alex was no better. So we went along to help and then they had decided the best thing was to get him to the hospital in Taunggyi which was 40mins away. Their guesthouse owners had been super bad about the whole thing but eventually helped them arrange a car to take us all there.

We arrived around 10am and its a pretty good hospital, the nurses were all waiting in reception pleased to meet us and shuffled us straight into the doctors room where Alex was seen straight away. They were very thorough and were checking for everything, Malaria, Dengue fever, glandular fever, etc. They did xrays for pneumonia, blood tests etc. All within an hour of being there.

They then decided the best option was to admit him for at least one night to observe his illness and to put him on an IV drip and intravenous antibiotics, if that didn't work, they would start Malaria treatment which would require 5 nights up at the hospital.

Unfortunately this meant they would miss their flight to Bangkok but this is nothing when you're Ill. They brought out all the paperwork for Charline to sign and then also a folder, with pictures and said 'choose your room', you get hot showers, breakfast, lunch and dinner, and a private room, the price depended on the size, but even the smallest room had a couch for Charline to stay on and at $35 a night it was pretty good.

Me and Rebecca went off in search of a sim card and essentials they would need during there stay and then our taxi driver said he couldn't wait any longer, even though we wanted to stay we had to go back.

We kept in contact with them, checking how Alex was. He hasn't improved after 12hours on antibiotics and apparently his fever was going into the delirious/hallucinations stage and was in a lot of pain. So by text me and Rebecca just said, get them to start the malaria medication. There was no use waiting and even if it wasn't malaria it would do no harm, but if it was malaria they needed to start it asap. So that evening they started the medication.

Charline said he had a very bad night but thankfully in the morning his fever had started to go down. The rest of my time in Inle was spent booking my bus ticket to Hsipaw for the next day at 2pm and we also did a Christmas quiz at the hostel. Some of the others took a taxi the next day up to the hospital to keep them company but it looked like Alex was on the mend, after a very scary 48hrs!

I then got my bus, a grueling 16hrs to Hsipaw, a little town in the north up near the border with China. It was a local bus, I was the only foreigner on it, and we broke down twice (bad tires), air con set to freeze mode and Bollywood and Myanmar songs blaring out until 9pm. But I made it, was dropped off and collected by my hotel at 6.30am, where I just had to wait two hours before I could check into a room.

That day I spent walking around Hsipaw. I met a girl, Veronica, half Italian half German living in Switzerland. So we walked out of town to a village where there is a bamboo monestry and a place called 'Little Bagan' a few very old pagodas, ankor wat style with plants and trees growing out of them. We then spent lunch by the river at a local place, Black Coffee, which I am now spending my day blogging from - they do delicious Shan noodle soup and fresh lime juice.

We then went to the old Shan Palace, which is still in the family of the last prince. It is a story told by his nephews wife, who still lives there, even through the military ooccupation. He married an Austrian woman Inga who became a princess of Shan State. During the military occupation, he was captured and she and her daughters were placed under house arrest. Inga later managed to escape and leave Burma with her daughters but the government always denied his capture, and still to this day he is classed as missing - he was never found, dead or alive. And they family ate still searching. Inga later wrote a book about it, called Twilight over Burma and it was also made into a film very recently, which is banned publicly in both Myanmar and Thailand, so I've made a note to watch it and also read the book. The way the woman told the story really captured me and it made the occupation and the hard times in Burma very relateable when you hear one persons/family struggle.

We then hot-footed it to Sunset Hill as the sun was setting and we made it just in time to see the glorious colours explode over the hills of Hsipaw. It really is a beautiful area.

Today I wanted to buy a Longhi (traditional skirts worn in Myanmar) which matched everything in my backpack. Low and behold I saw the most colourful Longhi I have ever seen and because it holds every colour in the rainbow, it will match just about anything I have. So at 8000 kyat ($6-7) it was a Christmas present to myself. I then also had to pay 1000 kyat (under a $) to have it stitched up down the side so it was suitable to wear, but it was even more authentic doing that than buying it already made. I didn't mind the extra 1000 kyat then. I have then just spent the day lazing by the river at Black Coffee, blogging and reading about Mandalay, which is where I will be spending Christmas.

I then tonight will need to book my bus ticket (6hrs, 4500 kyat) and intend on going back to Yuan Yuan shakes (where we ate dinner last night) to have the famous Yuan Yuan shake which is delicious (Pineapple, passion fruit, mint, lemon, ginger) a great booster for my immunity which is rock-bottom at the moment! The doctor seems to think I have Typhoid Fever so I am on antibiotics, vitamin c, cough medicine and flora and fauna medication for my intestines and stomach. So I should be on the mend!

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