Stop 19: Kalaw and 2-day trek to Inle Lake

The night bus from Hsipaw to Kalaw actually went through Mandalay. We arrived at 3 am which is way too early than scheduled. So Luis and me shared a room where Luis left early at 8 to go for his 3 day trek to Inle Lake.

I booked the Roma Inn which is far away from the center on the hills. There I met Alfie again who has been staying there for 3 days already. He said that the surroundings is really nice and chilled. He also met a dude who runs a bakery here and he would also consider opening a business here in Kalaw because everyone is coming here to do the trek and it would attract more people in the future. However, I have my doubts, especially since Kalaw itself has got not much to offer.

I also met Alli, we just briefly talked about the books that I read and I got to know her better during our hike.

At the evening bonfire, I met an american couple who lived 3 years in Zambia. Despite being on the same project, they were living miles away from each other. They were helping the locals to enrich their agriculture. After that, they went to Korea for 2 years. As Alfie mentioned later, during the hike, they  would speak to each other with mixed vocabularies from Korean and the local Zambian language. Quite amazing. So the lady works with with autism children, and the guy was running a refugee camp in South Korea for NK defectors. Now they are moving to Australia by going through the countries inbetween. And they also mentioned how they just don’t fit into the American culture anymore, also just for 6 months …

Now to the trek. I did the 2 day version since Shiyo mentioned that this would probably be enough for the dry season. And our route is the same as the 3 day trek where we just skipped the first day with the car.

We were 4 people, Emma, Beth, Alli and me. Our guide is Nixon who has interesting stories to tell as well.

Emma, from Chester UK, is now living in HCMC to teach English.

Beth, is exchanging in KL and is just hopping around countries in SEA to explore.

Alli, was teaching english in Changmai for a year and is now travelling before finally heading back to San Diego.

Our group picture:Emma, Alli, Beth

A very interesting pattern I realized in our conversations was, that Beth and Emma were always talking in “I” perspective. They would mostly say, oh I totally hate this, oh I totally love this, oh me too and then they would becoming best friends. Basically, people finding same love and hate and coming together. Alli is different. She would be more interested in different topics and asks more questions to find out more. In the end we had a good balance since Beth and Emma talked more and me and Alli would let them talk.

Nixon was a very nice guy. He used to be in the KNU army, which is one of the largest ethnics army in Myanmar. (not the government army) Once you joined the army, you are not allowed to leave. Of course you can, but if you do, they will just shoot you at the spot. Nixon was collecting taxes from some villages one day and he realized how the villagers have actually nothing to give and he threw his gun onto the ground and said that is not something that he wanted to do. Obviously, he is not dead. Why? His uncle is a high official in the army, thus he survived. Now he is living in Kalaw and his wife, who teaches at school, is 100 kms far away and they can only a few times in a year. But afterwards, she will hopefully transfer back to Kalaw.

The sceneries are of different varieties. But the best part was the night stay in a monastery. Nixon pulled a monk from the side and offered us to do palm reading. Of course women are fixated on this stuff and are quite hyped for this. Me, I don’t really want to know any of this because that takes away the fun of life (but I did it anyway haha). So Beth was supposed to become rich at 40,and she should pay attention to her breathing (she smokes). I don’t really remember any of her relationship stuff but she found it surprising that the monk was able to tell a lot of her which was true. Next up was Emma. She is supposed to get married twice in her life. The first time being end of this year (she is still single). The monk was able to tell that she is a teacher but she should become an Author. Well, Emma happens to be collecting ideas for her book, which is a fictional story about mermaids. She wanted to call the book airydescent (something like that, airy has something to do with mermaids, and descent for coming down? really writing after 3 weeks is horrible for remembering the details even with notes). Alli is apparently a play girl … which she totally doesn’t seem to be … She should not get married ever otherwise she would suffer a lot. I guess in the end she is not happy with it because they are not necessarily true.

My turn.

I got a pretty vague read but I also deliberately didn’t want to ask for details. When the monk for saw my hand, he went very quickly for a oooh, as if everything is clear now. He said that my career should be good, whether I work in a company or run a business myself. Mmmh thanks for that. He then said, mmh, between friends, you are authentic and being who you are. But within a relationship, I am rather shy and am not always being myself. Now this is what he got me with. I smiled a little and said, yea, this is exactly what I learned in my last relationship. Well, looking at the subtitle of my page, setting and reinforcing boundaries is exactly about this. After this, he had a feeling that I was rather unimpressed and wanted to squeeze more details for me and said, mmh when you were 14, you are smart and won a big prize or scholarship. That went a bit off, I am not the dumbest kid but I did not “win” anything when I was 14 except a plane ticket to Switzerland :D.

Sunset over the monastery

Also, once the lights went out, we went out to watch the sky full of stars. It was really comparable to the sky I saw in Sahara desert back in Morocco. Wow … My system camera is too bad to capture the beauty of it … but just imagine …

Nixon also took us to some stops once we arrived at the bottom of the Inle Lake. Other groups did not have the luxury to stop along the road, but Nixon did this for us. He also accompanied us on the boat to the upper town Nyaungshwe. Really it is such genuine people that makes a trip as wonderful as it is. He was just saying goodbye once we docked and did not even ask for a tip (some people do, remember the guy at the airport?). That actually makes you want to tip more … sometimes it just works like this …

Finally some scenery pics

Day 1 over dead rice fields

day 2 with reddish soil

Me, in Pakse, typed this in just 30 minutes … Mosquitoes are biting my leg off … I need to head back to my room …

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