Living it up in Cool Kalaw

Trip Start May 30, 2005
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Trip End Sep 30, 2006


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Saturday, August 27, 2005

I took a bus from Mandalay that left at 6pm and was destined to arrive in Kalaw at 1:30am. I got talking to a couple of French tourists that were trying to elicit information from me on where they could visit in Burma. They'd spent a a frantic week already visiting Yangon, Bagan and Mandalay. Now they were wondering where to go for the next three weeks that they'd planned. I piped in with, "What about Hsipaw? that was a really nice place"
"We don't really want to go to the North."
"Perhaps you could visit the Golden Rock and some beaches in the south?"
"Ohhhh, we heard that the area around the rock is misty at the moment so you can't really see it properly, and the beaches are probably too wet at the moment"
"The west?"
"Too wet"
Now I really started to struggle, "I'm heading to Kalaw, I heard you can do some nice trekking there"
"We don't really like walking"
This couple continued onto Inle Lake, but I don't know where they'd go after that. To be honest they should just head back to le France because obviously Burma just doesn't cut it with them. I sometimes wonder why people go to countries and then don't actually want to spend any time there, je ne sai pas.

I also shared the bus with a German called Flo who I'd already met at Hsipaw. It's just as well he was also heading to Kalaw since the bus was actually quite comfortable and I was blowing ZZZZs big time when I discovered that he was shaking me, "Ve're heir!". We were the only two that got off this bus at this quiet town. I'd already decided to go with any Guest House owners that turned up to meet the bus, sadly no one came and we had to find somewhere to lay our hats. Fortunately it's not too hard to wake anyone in Asia up at 1:30.

We took it pretty easy the next day, walking around the little town, 5 minutes. Walking a little further out and stopping at a tea shop for an hour, 90 minutes. Sitting on the balcony of the hotel listening to music, reading and watching people go past, 300 minutes. Organising a trek, 20 minutes. Discovering the delights of "The Everest Nepali Food Center" with the first delicious food in a week and trying the 20 different types of chapati, 240 minutes (2 visits).

Things almost got out of hand with Flo while we were on our second trip of the day to The Everest. He was amazed that whenever he said to Burmese people that he was from Munich, they'd always reply, "Ahhh, Bayer Munich". I said to him that they were probably the most famous team from Germany, "Or perhaps Bayer Leverkusen, or ....".
This is when he cut in, and with a menacing look in his eye said "Zay ARE ze best team in Germany". Ok Ok, calm down, I decided to agree with him on this matter before he decided to smash the bottom off a beer bottle to help prove his point.

Since there weren't really any other tourists around I agreed to go on a one day trek with Flo the next day. The trek was great, since Kalaw is about 1400 meters above sea level it's got a really cool climate, so much so I spent the evenings wearing my beloved Jeans and shoes that I hadn't seriously worn since Mongolia. Anyway, due to the cool climate there are pine forests in the surrounding hills, not what I expected at all. We saw fields and fields of bizare asian vegetables such as tomatoes and cabbages. We also visited a monk that lives on his own on top of a hill, rather unsurprisingly he was delighted to have a bit of company for a while despite the fact that two thirds of his visitors couldn't say much more that hello to him. By the end of the day I was shattered and we frog marched back to Kalaw in order to rest and to visit "The Everest" again. It was an absolute delight to be eating again, and to really enjoy the food.

I decided to head to Inle Lake the next morning with Flo rather than spend any more time in Kalaw, I'd arranged to meet up with David and Shane there after they'd finished visiting Bagan. It was early to bed since it was early to rise, this generally makes Ron Grumpy, Moody, and certainally not wise.
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