After a night spent at Lake Inle i travelled back to Kalaw on the train, i had heard about the scenic slow windey trip through the mountains and it didn’t disappoint. I enjoyed travelling on the trains in Myanmar, yes the were slow, yes they were noisey, and yes they were all over the place but it was fun !! It was another trip that only cost about a dollar to ride in ‘first class’ !!
The scenary was great and the temperature just right to hang out the window and admire the views.
My overnight coach from Yangon arrived in Kalaw at 5 in the morning. As it was a mountainous area it was damn cold, misty and dark. I had already pre-booked a hotel but had no idea whether they would let me into my room so early, but only one way to find out. My hotel was only a few minutes walk up the road and another half a dozen travellers followed me as they hadn’t booked anywhere yet.
On arrival at the hotel we could see a few members of staff all sleeping on the foyer floor, this seems quite common as they seem to sleep anywhere where theres space. A few knocks on the door and they were all up. One guy said that i couldn’t check in until 2 p.m., what was i to do for the next 8 hours ?! I was about to try and go to sleep on the sofas for a while before one of the other members of staff realised that i would just be making the place look messy (and taking up space where a staff member was sleeping) so let me into my room early. Phew.
One of the main attractions of Kalaw, apart from the cool temperatures due to its altitude, was the trekking to be done. After some web reasearch i found some good reports about Sam and his family restaurant and trekking business. Sam was a man in his early 70’s and was very passionate about trekking and the countryside where he lived. After listening to him talk you couldn’t help but book up a tour with him. I booked a 3 day/2 night trek covering about 55 kms, we were to trek through local villages, met different minority groups, and stay with local families in homestays.
The start of the trek outside Sams Family restaurant –
We trekked through the local countryside meeting villagers on the way, some were farming in the fields, some on their long walks to work, often having to move out of the way whilst people went through their daily lives.
Our first lunchtime stop was at this couples house –
The young girl on the left was our tour guide – Sonia, she was brilliant knowing all the plants, vegatables, flowers, and knowing how they were used for different purposes such as skin remedies or for aches and pains. The old couple were in their 70’s, their youngest child still lived with them which is quite often what happens, the youngest staying to look after the parents. Whilst the other children were out working in the fields the grandparents would quite often look after some of the youngest grandchildren.
Saying goodbye to the youngest and oldest –
The locals kids are always intrigued –
Various views from the 3 day journey –
Only one thing to do when you need a new basket, make a new one out of the bamboo growing in your back yard –
We stopped off at a local school on the third day as two Singaporean girls on the trip had brought some gifts to donate, some tooth brushes and pens, all the kids were delighted !!
All the kids were very hard working and loved being at school. There were 5 different grades and only 2 teachers. I was surprised to learn that the children start to learn English at about the age of 5. They stay at school until 13 but then they normally go to work in the fields as their parents can’t afford to send them to secondary school.
The trek ended at the south end of Lake Inle, we had our final lunch together and compared aches and pains. None of us were experienced hikers, i turned up with my sailing shoes as the only other shoes i had were sandals. The last supper –
The final part of the trip was a boat trip to the north of Lake Inle to our accomodation.
Getting on our boat –
Other tourists leaving on their long boat –
Heading out of the lake –
Life on the lake –
You can’t see the sign but this was the Post Office !!
Fisherman rowing with his leg –
It was a great 3 days seeing some fantastic scenary, meeting some very friendly people and enjoying the company of our guide – thank you Sonia !!