Day one Trekking from Kalawy to Inle Lake.
My friend and I took a night bus from Mandalay to Kalaw that arrived at 4am. The bus ride was pretty uncomfortable, I think it was a mixture of mountainous roads and having done 2 night buses in a row. When you arrive there will be the usual guys trying to score some commission off you by taking you to their hotels. I was recommended by a friend to stay at The Golden Kalawy Inn. I asked one of the guys to point us in the right direction and he seemed more than happy to help. Just a couple of minutes’ walk from where you get dropped off and you’ll be on a street with a range of guest houses. They charged us 3000 Kyats each for the night we arrived as it was already gone 4am. Then 6000 Kyats each for the following night.
Booking a trek.
I was advised to book a trek with Mr. Jonny who works with The Golden Kalaw Inn. The hotel is pretty basic and our room came with its very own puddle in the middle of it. The rooms on the ground floor are the cheapest. They had almost finished building there new hotel right out the back of the Golden Kalaw Inn which is extremely luxurious. The friend that recommended this trek to me said it was one of his favourite Myanmar experiences. I was completely sold from the way he’d spoken about it so I was eager to get this going.
The prices will vary depending on how many people are in your group. We’d met another guy in our guest house who was also wanting to do the trek so we set up a meeting with Mr. Jonny. His trek did sound great and he put a lot of emphasis on being secluded and getting real interactions with villagers. This was the main appeal for me. I really didn’t want to just follow some beaten track with a bunch of other foreigners. For the 3 of us to trek it was going to cost 55,000Kyats each, this would have included water as well.
The guy we’d met had also set up another meeting to with Uncle Sam about his trek. Uncle Sam is a great sales man and he could guarantee us a 6 person group making the price a much more attractive 40,000Kyats each. We’d agreed to go with Uncle Sam who takes a 10,000 kyat deposit on the day of booking. This trek does not include water.
Day one of trekking from Kalaw to Inle Lake.
The following morning we’d met up at 8:00am at Uncle Sam place. There were 3 other groups there that morning to go trekking so the process took about an hour before we set off. They will help you book accommodation in Inle lake (but charge you for the use of their phone) and will arrange to have your bags sent.(This is services is provided by all the trekking companies in Kalaw as standard) The services is totally safe, I even sent my laptop and they made a note on my bag to say it was fragile.
Our guides name was Mo. She was a 22 year old woman from a nearby village who spoke great English. She had a lot of knowledge to share pretty much the entire way. Our first destination was to head through the ever green forest and get to Kalaw Lake. This is a reservoir that provides Kalaw its water. Mo told us that you aren’t allowed to swim or fish in the lake and the government enforce some pretty strict punishments if your caught doing so.
After a short sit down (and realizing that I’ll yet to put an SD Card in my camera) we made our way through many kilometres worth of tea plantations to a small village where we had lunch. We got served Chapatti and Dal along with some fruit.
View from along they way.
Dal and Chapati for lunch.
After an hours rest we got back to it, a couple more hours of walking through tea plantation villages before we made our way along the train lines to Set Kyar Gon the village we’d be sleeping in. It was pretty novel walking along a working train track but I must admit it did go on for what felt like a very long time. I was really expecting a lot more nature. We had a short break at a train station where Mo bought us various fried foods and we all drank green tea. Mr.Jonny had warned us that other tour groups will take you along very simple routes.
Children we met from a green tea plantation village.
Our long walk down the train tracks.
We arrived at the village around 4:00pm, the family seemed very sweet but were really not interested in interacting with us. This was the only place we were allowed to ‘shower’. The shower was actually a well out in the garden with a bucket. This didn’t faze anyone what so ever, I think we were all just happy to pour freezing water over our heads after a day in the hot sun.
After a few more attempts to engage with them we went off to explore the village. The main attraction was a Pagoda at the top of a hill where we tried to watch the sun set.
Sunset at the Pagoda.
After an hour or so exploring we headed back down for dinner. We got served rice with egg and some other small samosas. Unfortunately I was using a cheap SD card in my camera at this point so half of the photos are corrupt. Once we’d finished Mo took us to the local shop where we could buy Mandalay Rum. Rum and Whisky are super cheap in Myanmar costing roughly 2000 Kyats ($2USD) for a litre.
We offered the family to join us but they politely declined once more so we just sat around the table and got a bit merry.
Our accommodation for the night.