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Trip reports - Hiking, camping to snow covered mountain in Putao

Putao & Myitkyina in Kachin state (08 - 20 Dec 2009)

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Putao is still the area where foreign tourists need permit (to be obtained by a licenced travel operator), have to pay royality fee and must use licensed guide to travel. Thus it is expensive compared to the trips to other tourist places such as Bagan, Mandalay, and Inle lake.

Travelling to Putao is by road from Myitkyina (so far it is inconvenient on the dirt narrow road taking minimum two days) and by flight. Flying in and out is the easiest. Even then flight delay are not uncommon due to uncertain weather. Most tourists come to Putao during the dry winter from November and April when there are flights to Putao on 2 or 3 days a week. November is supposed to be the end of rainy season and start of the snow falls in the upper elevations close to Myanmar-India border.

However the real weather at the time of your travel should be checked again and again with local weather station or local peoples. Things change unexpectedly quite often. Food, cleanliness and standards of accommodation may be lower than what you would expect.

Putao from the air plane
Putao from the arriving air plane

Putao is a small town in the valley surrounded by villages, farms and mountains. Up to now (Dec 2009) good accommodations are hard to find. Very few good ones are expensive. Foreign tourists are advised to understand about the poor situations of the sleeping places in town. Cleanliness can be managed by cooperation. However the hotel or guesthouse buildings, and facilities are far lower than international standards.

Putao market
Putao market

The market and restaurants in the area are the meeting place for mountain/village travel guides and tourists. There are food shops, grocery stores, hardware store, medicines shops, and wet market there.

Tuk tuk taxi sent us to upper Shankhaung village
Tuk tuk taxi sent us to upper Shankhaung village

On the first day of the hike to Phangran Razi we had a tuk tuk taxi sent us from Putao to upper Shankhaung village - about 10 mile distance. The trips to Phongkan Razi, Phangran Razi or to other mountains such as Ziardan start with this 10 mile taxi ride. From there we walked to the first night stop at Warsandan village (Rawan village) over the mountain. It is about 5 to 6 hours walk mostly on an unfinished mountain road.

Upper Shankhaung to Warsandan walk
Upper Shankhaung to Warsandan walk

Entering Warsandan village
Arriving Warsandan village

Sun down at Warsandan village
Sun down at Warsandan village

The village is near the low hills. Water supply is by means of bamboo chutes to each house. Toilets are Asian squat style and located outside the houses.

A sleeping place in a house
My sleeping place in a house

The next day (2nd day) we left the village after breakfast at 8:30am for the second night stop at Ziyadan village - also Rawan. On the way we passed by a Lisu village (Awardan village). The trail is flatter than the day before.

Awardan village
Awardan (mostly Lisu peoples) village

Both Warsandan and Awardan villages have a primary school. Main occupation is rice and corn farming in the rainy season (May to October or November). They also keep chicken, ducks, goats, cows, buffalos , and horses. Some peoples would go for hunting in the forest looking for monkey, fish, and medicinal plants during the dry season. They would go for a few days to more than a week at a time.

Walking through Awardan village
Walking through Awardan (mostly Lisu peoples) village

At the end of the village is the primary school and the paddy fields. From Awardan village we, for the first time, saw the snow capped mountain peaks along Myanmar & India border to the west.

Snow capped mountain peaks far far away
Paddy firms of Awardan village.. and the snow covered peaks far in the distance.

On the route to Ziyadan village
On the way to Ziyadan village

Ziyadan village is on the river bank, in a valley. There is no water supply system to the village houses. Peoples go to the river to wash clothes and take shower. Water for use at home is carried along. The village of mostly Rawan peoples also has a primary school.


The house we stayed the night in Ziyadan village

Ziyadan is the last village for the trek to Phongkan Razi and Phangran Razi. The trail to Phongkan Razi is much easier than the route to Phangran Razi. On the route to Phangran Razi you need to walk along the creek for two or more days until you get to the end of the creek, and then hike further up to the snow line or beyond to set up the base camp from where you attempt to the peak at 4300 meters.

Walking up the creek
Walking up the creek


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