We awoke again to brilliant skies which remained clear and clean throughout the day, which was both a blessing and a curse. This was to be a 12 mile march and we would be holding at a steady and the sultry elevation of 3500′ for the entirety. On sunny days at lower altitudes in northern Burma during this season, one meets up with sand flies in great abundance, and today was no exception. These tiny insects would best be compared to no-see-ums, the difference being that you do not feel their bite. It is long after they have devoured a wee bit of your being that itchy, red welts appear that remain annoying for days following.
As we skirted the flank of a high hill after fording the river, we had for the first time a view of our destination far in the distance; the mountains, newly dusted by snow, rose high into a flawless autumn sky while fields of rice ripened to tawny yellow around us. A beautiful species of Passion Vine, Passflora, an intriguing species of Disporum and magnificent stands of Dipteris conjugata ( a sensational fern species ) grew along the trail.
As we came into a small village of the Lisu minority, the fact that it was a Sunday was not lost. The Lisu arrived into northern Myanmar in the early years of the last century from Yunnan Province, led by a Californian missionary and his wife. Devoutly religious, they attend services three times on Sunday, Monday and Thursday; it was during the rather vocal midday service that we arrived to the home of Joseph, our local guide and translator adjacent to the church.
As our midday meal was prepared over fire, Shayne and I visited with the young village children who had heard of our arrival and (probably) the generous supply of pens we had brought along for such encounters. On the fence surrounding his vernacular home, built on stilts and thatched entirely in bamboo, blossomed a large assemblage of orchids he had gathered during his travels higher into the mountains. Joseph would prove to be a dependable, steady and strong guide throughout the experience.
Late in the afternoon, as the shadows grew and light dimmed, we rose up and over a small ridge where we could see Ziyardam nested in the valley far below. We arrived into a seemingly deserted settlement, the last village, to the rather surreal sound of contemporary Christian Country pop blaring from a boom box in the local church during the evening service.