Kyaukme, pronounced ‘chow-may’, and meaning black-stone, is a little frequented trekking base (not to mention a sizable town) in the Shan Hills between Pyin Oo Lwin and Hsipaw. The population is mostly Shan and Palaung with a large number of Chinese immigrants. The area is known mostly for it’s tea growing, green, black and pickled. Pickled tea leaf, or Lahpet, is a social and ceremonial staple of Burmese life and is served many ways, including the ever popular tea leaf salad, Laphet Thohk.
All is not well in the world of tea growing here, however. With the market now 75% saturated with cheap and illegal Chinese tea, times are tough for the growers, who are primarily Paluang. Worse still, in such a harsh economic climate, Palaung women find the lure of about $3500 USD too much to resist, and marry themselves off to Chinese men desperate for wives.
So come and enjoy the fabulous and authentic trekking experiences on offer, and definitely use a guide who speaks Palaung, which will open a lot of doors you could never open on your own.