Hsipaw is an adorable town a few hours east of Mandalay, down a narrow, winding, ill-repaired road lined with the bodies of buses that didn't quite make it.
Downtown is pretty sleepy, with a row of cheap tourist restaurants in front and a local market behind.
Tourists come to Hsipaw to hike, and that's what we did, starting with a half-day stroll to some nearby Shan hilltribe towns.
On our way out we paused for a delicious look at handmade noodles being hung out to dry.
We also got up close and personal with water buffalo.
Every town had a stupa, and these were surprisingly large and opulent considering the overall poverty. They also seemed to be renovated frequently. This one had a Buddha on top of a somewhat idiosyncratic globe: New Zealand was only a word without a landmass, and Laos and Cambodia were missing altogether.
"Why is the Buddha on top of a globe?" I asked our guide.
"Maybe this is after he's taken over the world," he answered.
"But does the Buddha want to take over the world?"
"Who knows?" he said with a mischievous grin.