Pyay Kyaw / The Irrawaddy

Touring Chin State

Pyay Kyaw The Irrawaddy

TEDIM, Chin State — Despite its pristine natural beauty, bad transportation is a serious obstacle for the development of Chin State. Anyone who has been there, especially during the rainy season, knows this to be true.

Landslides plague the impoverished state when the rains come. Vehicles frequently hydroplane as they snake around the dirt roads of the mountainous region in northwestern Burma. Roads barely wide enough for one car are choked with lines of vehicles for hours until the roads are clear.

At 8,000 feet above sea-level, passersby can see stunning mountains shrouded in clouds but also the scary site of four-wheelers lying turned-over on muddy roads or hills after an accident. For anyone traveling in a small van, pushing the vehicle out of knee-deep mud or being towed is unavoidable.

The distance between Kalay and Tedim is about 60 miles but the trip can take 12 hours thanks to rain, landslides and accidents on the road. The famed, heart-shaped Reed Lake is about 20 miles from Tedim and near the India-Burma border. Stark differences between the two countries can be seen while standing on a bridge that links the two countries for trade. Awash in twilight, India’s Mizoram State is lit up, while in Burma’s Rihkhawdar, only a small glimmer of light gathers like fireflies starting their night in the darkness.