I’m still in Myanmar, at least for a couple more days. I’ve already posted about Bagan – I have to say I really fell in love with that place. Lia and me spent two days driving the e-bike around and then on the third day, we decided to just chill at a swimming pool.
The morning after that, we took a minibus to Kalaw. After what seemed like eternity in this little hot box on wheels, we finally got to our destination. Kalaw is a tiny town, which would probably never see any tourists if it wasn’t for the famous treks to and from Inle Lake. And that’s why we were there too. We first dropped off our bags at the hotel (Oh yeah, a proper hotel! Things are much more affordable when you’re sharing costs :)) and then we started exploring the town. It really was rather small. Our first stop was the single stupa. After coming in, we were offered some typical Myanmar food (tea leaf salad, some bananas and tea). We were both pleasantly surprised. I guess things are a little different in small towns. Eating in a temple felt a little strange, but at the same time really cool – it’s what locals do after all. The religious culture and habits are very different in here, for instance people leave their beverages as offerings at the shrines. It’s strange seeing all these plastic bottles there, in the western world it would just be littering, in here it’s paying respects.
Afterwards, we managed to catch a glimpse of the local parade celebrating the young boys entering the monastery as novice monks. There was music and people very dressed up very nicely. Funnily enough, we later managed to see a part of it in Nyaung Shwe as well. I think we got very lucky both times.
In the evening we found a very cool and probably the tiniest bar of all. Now, to explain how special this is – Myanmar does not really have the concept of bars. It was really, really narow and small. We ordered the only drink we’ve seen them serve, a rum sour, which was very good. The atmosphere there was very jolly and cheerful. The locals were playing the guitar and singing out loud. If it wasn’t for the fact that neither of us spoke the language, I’m sure we would have joined in 🙂
Trekking to Inle Lake
The next day, we woke up early for our two day trek. It was just the two of us with our guide Khaul. I really enjoyed it, we learned a lot about Myanmar and its social and political situation from him. Most of the landscape was quite hilly (not the Dutch kind of hilly, proper hilly).
We also went through a couple of small tribe villages, in fact we even slept in one. The lady who lived there cooked for us and we got to sleep upstairs. The place was very simple – a barrel with water for a shower and one of the typical Asian squat toilets (which are actually quite fine, they definitely beat dirty western style toilets). I was quite happy we’re here in the off season, because we barely met any other tourists, but we were told that sometimes there might be up to 12 people sleeping there. I was also surprised about how cold it got there, the temperature in the mountains really changes quite rapidly between day and night. I was sleeping in sweatpants and a hoodie, covered with a rather thick blanket, and I was still a little chilly.
The trek ended by us taking an hour long ride on a longboat through the Inle Lake. When we arrived at Nyaung Shwe, we found our hotel and were both very happy to take a proper shower, get some food and relax.
Nyaung Shwe (Inle Lake)
The next day, we rented bicycles and went around the lake, to the Inle hot springs. The division there was quite amusing – male, female and foreigner 🙂 I have to say, they were not lying – the springs were really HOT. I have quite high heat tolerance (runs in the family), but I didn’t manage to work my way up to the hottest one and actually spent most of the time in the coldest (which was pretty comfortable). I also haven’t seen anyone who managed more than just a dip of one foot in the hottest pool. After the springs, we took a longboat (along with our bikes) to the other side of the lake and biked back home again.
That was my last day with Lia, as she had to catch a flight. We made pretty good travel partners, so it was a little sad to say goodbye. Afterwards, I went for dinner with some friends we met at Kalaw and then back to the hotel, since I was quite tired (Myanmar wakes up really early).
When I came back, I got pretty sick. I’ll spare you the details, but it really wasn’t pretty. I suspect it was a side effect of the malaria medication I’m taking, however it could have also been the food, the water… who knows. I was supposed to go for a boat tour around Inle Lake the next day, but of course I had to skip that. I spent most of the day in bed, I only went out to get some food and water (and even those few hundred meters seemed like mission impossible, I was quite scared I won’t make it, no joke). I felt pretty weak and shaky. It got better in the evening though and today I’m feeling quite ok, although my stomach is still rather uneasy. I’m just taking it slow for now, today I took a walk outside of town and then visited the local market. In the evening, I’m taking a bus to Mandalay, which is my last stop in Myanmar. Hopefully, I won’t be feeling sick anymore and I’ll be able to see the city and its surroundings.
I’m going to go read a book for a while and wait for my bus now 🙂 Thanks for reading again. Hugs to everyone at home (or well, either one of the homes ^^).