Come along for the journey!

Come along for the journey!

Monday, 11 May 2015

TREKKING (Kalaw to Lake Inle, Myanmar)

After enjoying the cooler climes of Kalaw, it's time to head out into the wilds. Our guides from the Golden Lily guest house are a sweet young couple. Oscar is a wiry, smiley Nepalese guy with trekking in his blood, but training in business with a dream to one day run his own trekking company. We're sure he will. Kad, Oscar's girlfriend, opened our eyes to many Burmese customs - she told us about their wedding plans, the gold wedding dress, and that she may give one of their children to the monastery to secure their passage to heaven. This partly explains why there are so many monks here!

Together with their friend the chef, they cooked amazing meals, pointed out special things in plain sight that we would've missed, and kept our spirits high when the high temperatures and dusty hilly terrain was beating us.

Our trekking gang comprised of a motley bunch of travellers: Andy, a Polish-American sailer-restauranteur, who had waited on the First Lady in Colorado, captains a yacht on the Great Lakes and found a passion for photography when aged 12 his mother won two cameras in a photo competition; Beryl, a Toronto civil servant tired of serving and working out what to do next; Andrew from the unfortunately named place to grow up in, 'Regina' in Saskatchewan, who has given up a job in a box factory to go around the world and ultimately work on an Aussie farm; Irene & Sebastian from Switzerland, seeing the world for a year and a half, considering where they'll live in it, and with Sebastian's work for a Swiss rail company, is freaking us out by telling us all the crazily unsafe things about Myanmar trains; and Britney, the creative, chatty and kooky 'Lacey-likey' (Wassup Lacey!!) hair stylist from Winnipeg whose purple PT Cruiser matches her hair.

Our first day trek included foraging for flower roots to eat later. We arrived at a small village without electricity - the 20 or so houses shared a well (that I nearly defiled by almost cleaning my feet in it!), a generator for the occasional power, and a 'Caneball' net (foot volleyball using a woven bamboo ball - pretty much the national sport). Our first night was a home stay. We all shared a candlelit meal - the foraged flowers were made into a curried / stir-fry dish, with a handful of chilli and just a pinch of smugness from our endeavours. It was delicious.

Cane Ball - These kids have mad ninja skills
Day two was a big one - hot and hilly, punctuated by the sweet relief of a midday wild river swim, the scenery became more dramatic with every twist in the road. The landscape was quintessentially Asian and we felt miles from anywhere. As is often the way when travelling, especially when there are long hours and hard miles to kill, conversations become deep and philosophical, and bonds grew. Of course, the travel buddy bonds can be artificially enhanced by the circumstances, but we genuinely had a great group.

Basket weaving near the riverside

After a long long trek, we arrived for our second night at a tumbling down old wooden Monastery. We were to be the monk's guests and sleep on the monastery floor before awaking to the dulcet sounds of chanting at sunrise. Idyllic right? Well, not if after a dehydrating, 45 degree, 8 hour trek, a feeling of triumph and bonding, it then leads to a boozy self congratulatory night at a nearby bar-shack, on unknown Myanmar bottled swag, turning our refuge of tranquility into a scene from 'The Osbornes’. What an embarrassingly disrespectful mess! Thankfully we were quiet when we returned and the monks were blissfully unaware of those in the group who threw up behind the toilets…just behind the prayer garden…and all down their shorts.

We finally made it, through the sunshine and gratefully received cool rain, to Lake Inle.

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