After Bagan, Jodee and I decided to spend some time in the Shan state. Funnily enough, our first introduction to the Shan state happened on the remote island of Flores, in Indonesia! I had just finished reading the book I had and was looking to swap it for a different one. A lot of hostels (sometimes restaurants and cafes as well!) along the backpacker route have a library with a swap policy. You can take a book with you if you leave one there. The policy is usually awesome as you get to read books you would not have come across otherwise! Rifling through the books on the shelf of the only Italian Cafe in Labuanbajo, Flores, I cam upon a book titled “Twilight over Burma: My Life as a Shan Princess“. Intrigued, I picked it. The book itself is not very well written IMHO. So unless you have an interest in Burma, I would skip it. However, it tells the amazing true story of an Austrian girl that met the love of her life, an unassuming Burmese fellow-student while at university. They fall in love, get married, and soon are headed to Hsipaw, the capital of the Shan state to meet his family. There she realizes that he is the Prince regent of the state, and she, now the princess! The book then goes on to tell the story of the military uprising and her husbands capture.
Having read it, I wanted to go check out the place. So it came to pass that we found ourselves on a journey to this strange town called Pyin-Oo-Lwin, and Hsipaw. Blogs on that coming soon!