To get to Kalaw from Bagan we ended up on a cramped minibus, which was a right hand drive despite the Myanmar driving on the right (this article attempts to explain why but no-one really knows). It made for some pretty hairy overtaking on mountain curves.
We were keen to get out and see some rural life, so had booked an overnight trek from Kalaw to Inle Lake. We met our friendly guides – Aung Aung (“uh oh”) and Jimmy (definitely not his real Burmese name) and started the trek alongside farmland and through different ethnic villages.
We had read that the trek was less about natural scenery and more about seeing local people so I did not have high expectations for the landscape, but it was beautiful, especially as we approached the golden magic hour
We stopped to cool off in a gorgeous river alongside other tourists but the illusion was slightly broken when a buffalo appeared and began s*******g in the water…
We had only walked 16km but with the terrain and heat, we were knackered and pleased to get to the village where we were staying for the night.
After a bracing cold (and peeping-tom friendly) open roofed outdoor bucket shower, we sat down to a delicious feast of ten tasty local dishes washed down with Myanmar beer, while the sun set behind the hills.
Jimmy had been talking about playing the guitar all day so we were soon ushered inside to sing and drink beer with him, Aung Aung and some other guides. It was funny trying to find songs that both groups knew – The Beatles and Tracy Chapman got no response so we resorted to Bieber and Adele, with some of the words changed to Burmese.
At one point, we were all up and dancing and Aung Aung wanted us to pretend to be different Power Rangers. It was very surreal (and hilarious). Rachael also taught them her Alexandra Burke leg move (known as the ‘hip lever’ amongst friends) which they perfected, and even enhanced.
We slept on mats upstairs and were woken by the village coming to life as it got light at 6am. After breakfast, we were back on the road again. Today we had 17km to walk but it was mostly downhill which was lucky as our feet were beginning to hurt.
Four more hours of beautiful scenery and friendly locals and we reached a village in the edge of the lake where the walk finished. We hungrily scoffed our lunch (and compared blisters) before a boat ride to our hotel across the lake.
It was sad to say goodbye to our super friendly guides who had made it a brilliant walk.
Next stop: Inle Lake