THE ROAD WAS APPALLING. Women carried baskets of rocks on their heads, while others broke them down by hand to lay the base for the new road. Switchbacks, ditches, mud, detours. There was every chance if I didn’t get turned back by the military, the car just wouldn’t get through.5 hours bouncing and sliding through dirt and over rocks, and 160km from Mindat, we checked into a small guesthouse next to one of the many churches in town.
And now, I don’t even remember why I wanted to go to Mindat. I’m glad we did though!
I had limited information about Matupi, high in the hills of western Chin State.
The Korean hatch I had may not have got through, and foreigners may not have been allowed in.
160km later along by far the worst road I have ever driven on, we arrived, shaken, not stirred.
Even a flat tyre was an education. A resin is forced in to close the hole.
As far as I know there are no "sights" in Mindat, though I (later) read about Bungtla waterfall, 20km away.
The town itself is the sight, with a very rural based economy, street markets, churches packed all hours of the day, and people hanging out.
Apparently there are 6 different Chin ethnic tribes/groups in Matupi -the Matu, Mara, Dai, Zotung, Lautu and Khumi. Everyone was really friendly, whoever they were.
This street-side market was the hub of Matupi's thriving economy, all manner of wares on sale.
Villagers, mostly women, trekked in from nearby farms, with traditional baskets on their backs (or heads).
And when all the work was done (or before), a tea shop nearby serves for a gossip and some breakfast.
Sweet milk tea and fried breads the order of the day.
An old canopy from a pick-up serves as an outdoor table!
Like elsewhere in Burma, there was no trouble finding more substantial fare. Even if options were limited, they were good.
Walking through the town and out to the surrounding hamlets helped pass 3 days.
I'd like to say that this chap is taking his pet pig for a walk, but no.
The birds of prey hovering overhead knew it was wedding season, and Porky's fate isn't looking good.
The older men of the families sat in anticipation.
Roasting the pigs over fires in the street falls to the younger men. Somehwere out of sight, the women would have been just as busy.
And like anywhere, with men cooking meat over fire, there were plenty of opinions on how to do it.
Like anywhere, a wedding is a family's biggest expense, and there was no shortage of pork today.
Walking out of town, we could see the precariously built stilt house, clinging for life to the mountainsides.
In fact the whole town of 9000 people hugs the spine of the mountains.
A little further on, there are pleasant forests (with an uncertain future under a rapacious regime).
I spotted this deer about 2 mins from the main road. Wildlife tourism has enormous potential in Burma, but I doubt the military agrees.
North of Matupi, roads, now closed again, lead into India. Southern travel was always limited due to conflict.
Prior to covid and coups, I had hoped to make the India transit recently, before tourism picked up. Matupi reminds me of a saying: Bad roads, good people. Good roads, all kinds of people.