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Kalaw to Inle on foot….

kids running

We decided to take a day bus this time from Bagan to Kalaw. We are so glad we did because the landscape was stunning but the roads a little hairy!

bus to kalaw

8 hours of this…..!

After almost 8 hours on the local bus being entertained by a hilarious German called Tim -Officially the worst car/bus passenger that we’d ever met – beating my mum! (He was petrified the entire journey) We arrived in the hillside town of Kalaw. It was here that we found our cheapest accommodation in Myanmar. $7 a night at the Golden Lily Guesthouse. We’d probably say it wasn’t even worth that since the walls were made of plywood and the toilets didn’t work but hey ho, $7 is $7.

At the guesthouse we were able to book our intended trek to Inle Lake for the following day. With everything organised we headed out to explore Kalaw for the afternoon. We decided to check out the 2 main temples in the town. The first was Shwe Oo Min Paya. The temple itself was inside a cave with numerous pagodas outside. The grotto temple was brilliant. It was one of my favourites in Myanmar.  Small but full of Buddha in all shapes and sizes and all lit up with multi-coloured lights. It looked a little like Vegas.

vegas cave

Vegas Baby!

black buddhavegas cave jm

We ended the day at the Hnee ‘Bamboo’ Pagoda – The Buddha was made of Bamboo of course! It wasn’t particularly impressive but we were kindly offered green tea and nibbles which was nice of them. Small donation required after we’d eaten it of course.

temple free food

Bamboo Buddha

Trekking time.

After an awful night’s sleep at the guesthouse we were ready to get going and walk walk walk! We were joined in our group by a French couple we’d met on our bus and hilarious Tim. There were 9 of us in total. The maximum allowed in a group. 2 Brazilians, 3 French (including JM) 1 Italian, 1 German, myself and Sunny the Guide. We were also told we would be going a ‘special’ route so to avoid other tourists. Mmmm we shall see we thought.

The first day we walked 23 kilometres. Our guide was right; we really didn’t come across any other tourists except for some small groups that were from the same guesthouse.

Kalaw train station

group walking

panorama

piment rouge

selfie viewpoint

JM just farted!

us valley

kids football

king ball

viewpoint

us shadow

first night village

Sleepover!

cold shower

Shower Burmese style

The whole day was brilliant. We learnt a lot about the fauna and flora around us and just enjoyed the stunning views and fresh air. We spent the first night in a local village staying in a family home. It had been fabricated for tourists like us so there was a large room with mattresses, quilts and pillows for us all. We ended up staying with another group in the room. Very cosy. I’m glad we had our ear plugs!

The food on the trek was also great and so much of it. We definitely didn’t get hungry. The avocado salad was to die for!

The second day continued much like the first – Beautiful countryside, meeting friendly locals, learning lots from our guide and eating a lot! Our afternoon became a little more eventful when Sunny lost us due to a miscommunication. After waiting an hour, we decided to stick as a group and following a different guide towards the monastery we were staying that night. Eventually we would find Sunny even if it was tonight. 1 hour later and over the horizon like a scene out of Little House on the Prairie we saw Sunny running towards us. Full of guilt and apologies, (which of course we accepted) we continued on a more VIP trek because Sunny felt so bad losing us. We went swimming in the river, watched the sunset, spent 2 more hours trekking and ended up helping a family carry some newly made baskets to their home and then being invited inside for some tea.

sunrise soph

Good Morning Myanmar!

toilettes 2

Toilet Pic!

toilettes 1   

sunrise late

petit dej

Breakfast with avocado salad

sunrise

sunny sugar cane

Fresh sugar cane. A little energy booster.

vache carriage

village man

water buffalo

piment

buddha tree

soph bubbles flower

A plant you can blow bubbles from!

oldest woman

thanaka soph

thanaka us

Thanaka fun

vache carriage 2

sunny find us

bambou work

landscape 4

trou dans mon pied

A hole in JM’s foot. Ouch

terrace landscape

landscape 1

landscape 2

landscape 3

soph amazed

sunset

village tea break

Tea time after helping the locals

When we eventually made it to the monastery we arrived to a round of applause and cheers. The other groups had heard we’d been lost and happy to see us all safe and well. Very funny! Another 22km done!

On our last day we arrived at Inle Lake. $10 each please! Straight out the pocket. Boom.

It was here that we started to realise how popular this trek was. We really did go a ‘special route’ because as soon as we arrived at the check point people were coming from all directions. Luckily for us Sunny had heard there was wedding in the next village. We did a detour and that allowed time for all the other tourists to move on by and by the time we left the celebrations we were the only ones left.

monastere

Monastery sleepover

sunrise

cochon

A little wedding guest

Little wedding guest

kid

mariage 2

Waiting to see the bride and groom.

mariage 3

mariage 4

Wedding guests

mariage 5

mariage 6

mariage 7

The trek continued to be beautiful, interesting and probably one of the highlights of our Myanmar trip.

To end an incredible 3 days Sunny arrange for us to have a boat tour of Inle Lake rather than a direct boat straight to Nyaung Shwe where we finished the trip.

We whizzed in and out of shops, factories, restaurants, houses and farming land all on stilts over water. We were 10 persons in a boat like the locals, not 3 or 4 like the tourists. So much fun!

lanscape

tree

camion

monks

pylones

our boat

inle

Inle Lake was beautiful we’d never seen anything like it before. Unfortunately as expected it was completely aimed at tourists now and there were a lot of tourists! It was still incredibly beautiful and worth visiting.

We stopped off at cigar, silver, silk and umbrella factories and shops before seeing the famous fishermen at sunset. We ended up getting completely drenched in the boat at the end of the trip because our driver seemed in a rush to get somewhere. The water just splashed in. The 4 umbrellas he gave us to protect ourselves didn’t help at all. Not great for me who had a stinking cold and fever from the hot days and freezing nights. It was still enjoyable though.

fabrique parapluieparapluie

pont

pilotis

Normal life on the lake

boat drenched

Dream Team

bateaux

Nyaung Shwe

jm

pecheur

pecheur sunset

Fishermen at sunset

We had an incredible 3 days of Burmese countryside, fresh air, exercise, food, friendly locals; learning about the country and meeting some incredible people who we got to share the whole experience with.

We ended the trek finding a hostel in Nyaung Shwe north of Inle Lake. I got to sleep off my cold and fever a little and we decided to stay a few nights to explore the area.

Recuperation in Inle

The first day in Nyaung Shwe, Inle, was pretty uneventful. I was really suffering with a cold and fever and we were pretty exhausted from the trekking. We wondered around town but there wasn’t much to see – A lot of drunken locals in the bars and a nice market. The lake itself was much more beautiful and interesting. We booked our bus ticket to Hsipaw and went in search ofsome bicycles to rent all for the next day.

Taunggyi Balloon Festival

During our time in Inle we planned to go to the Tazaungdaing festival, also known as the festival of lights and the most famous being held in Taunggyi, a town neighbouring Nyaung Shwe. We were really excited. We were told it was a little dangerous because the balloons in the sky had fireworks attached and tended to explode and crash down into the crowds. OK…… We had been warned just not to go where there are big crowds. Observe from a far!

festival peopl

A few people……

Normally the festival is held on and around the full moon on the eight month of the Burmese calendar and marks the end of the rainy season. It is a celebration of the end of the Kathina season where monks are offered new robes and alms.

When we arrived it was a big shock. We arrived to 100,000s of drunken Burmese, techno music and a horrible ambience. Pushing and running into families and other people. The locals were out of control. Within less than an hour after we arrived we were ready to leave. The girls we were with were not happy but we chose to stay a little longer to see some of the famous balloons.

festival taunggy 1

We were told from those who went on the previous nights that it was great fun. The balloons were designed by children at local schools and local charities. We were looking forward to seeing them.

festival taunggy 2

Unfortunately the night we went (apparently the worst night to go – we found that out the next day!! Pfff) the balloons were made by large companies such as cement factories and banks….They were beautiful but we didn’t exactly like how a company’s name was splashed across each one. We only actually saw 3 in total with only 1 partially crashing to earth but away from the crowds. The time between each balloon was 45 minutes so it was slow going between that and being push and shoved by locals. We were pleased to leave but a little gutted when hearing the great stories of the previous 3 nights. Completely family orientated, lanterns, monks everywhere and light animations. We unfortunately got a rave party with 200,000 drunken Burmese locals and large corporations advertising on balloons. At least we went and experienced a little of it.

baloon kbz festival

Wine at last!

Our final morning in Inle we rented some bicycles and cycled along the east side of the lake. It was beautiful. There was no one around and we could stop and take photos at a really lazy pace. We finished off stopping at the local vineyard with amazing views over the lake. We tried the tasting menu and surprise surprise…..disgusting. It was fun anyway and we ended up eating the best Shan noodles ever for lunch! A good end to another little adventure in Myanmar.

bike trip us

view maing thauk

bikes inle

view inle lake

degustation

red mountain vineyard

A vineyard with a view

vin degeulasse

Yuk!

us verres vides

Still drank it though!

One thought on “Kalaw to Inle on foot….

  1. AvatarR Buxton

    Its 1.20 a.m couldn’t sleep, have thoroughly enjoyed reading your latest blog, what a wonderful experience you are both having, lovely pictures love Grandma

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