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Trekking in the hills of Inle

MYANMAR | Friday, 9 January 2015 | Views [583]

Next day we headed out for a 2 day trek round the surrounding mountains. We were originally planning to do the famous Inle to Kalaw trek but where convinced by the many locals that the surrounding nature is just as beautiful and if you do not have a real need to get to Kalaw there is no point of doing that particular trek.

 

And so early in the morning we met with our guide who took us through rice fields and pagodas up the hills filled with plantations of tobacco, sunflowers and other crops.

It is not the most impressive route, there are no spectacular views to be seen, instead it’s a stroll through local villages and the real rural life of Burma. Its charming and hot but not incredibly demanding. Having said that, I did really enjoy it and would certainly do it again.

 

For our night accommodation we arrived at our guide’s home village. Met his lovely and very hospitable family and greeted with the news that we have arrived just in time for the full moon, end of Buddhist lent celebrations and we were more than welcome to join in the fun.

Of course we said yes…

But before we could eat and get ready for the night we were invited to shower… I have to say, I am quite used to washing in interesting conditions, there were rivers, pipes, freezing cold mountain pools… what I was not prepared for to take my shower in full view of the village which is when I first understood the importance of longyi (tradition skirt). In traditional villages everyone washes at public baths, and what is meant by that is: there is a pipe in a middle of a village where you can shower and wash your clothes. It is visible to all villagers and passer-by’s. There is no such thing as changing rooms so the idea is that your wrap around in the longyi and wash yourself wearing it…As this is a conservative environment, swimming trunks are acceptable for use by men but girls need to keep pretty much covered during the procedure. I did not know that this is what I am to experience and so proceeded to the shower with just my tiny trek towel… Sufficient to say the whole thing was a challenge and I might have stretched the decency laws a bit… And yes the water is absolutely freezing..

 

After that little adventure I was pretty much ready for whatever the night will bring and it brought A LOT of green tea drinking.

It turned out that the celebrations of the end of lent mean visiting all elders in the village i.e every head of the household and bringing them gifts and in turn being treated to snacks and tea.

There are 27 homes to visit and I have quickly figured out that it is absolutely necessary to eat and drink something at each one of them. It is a great fun and privilege to do this as you get to know the whole village, walking from home to home with all of the youngsters and children, many of whom have not seen a foreigner in their lives and in the process being 27 times blessed by the elders. It’s a unique window to the life of the tribe, being able to visit the rich and the poor and by the look of the house see which class they inhabit in the village life.

I have to mention here that all of the electricity in the villages in Burma is supplied through the use of solar panels. It is, possibly,  the most eco friendly place I have ever visited…

So now an admition: first 5 houses where real fun but it is tiring experience, and by house 10 you end up with artificially glued smile, real need to for toilet and a sensation that this will never end…

 

Next morning after a hearty breakfast we headed down the hill back to the town, again passing through plantations and strolling through bamboo forests. The final stop is at a water reservoir about 2 km from town where you can swim with the locals and their horses. I did… and then stepped on a broken bottle, ripped my foot open and was a local sensation for about 15 minutes as dressed in a bikini tried to stop the bleeding… luckily I always trek with some sort of first aid contraption… It was a bit painful walk back and I have to say that it was quite a bad cut that in the end took 4 months to heal  - lesson: only swim in places where you can see what you are stepping  on J

 

On return to our hostel we had some time to take a shower (normal one this time), eat and get ready for the overnight journey to Mandalay.

Tags: burma, inle lake, kalaw, myanmar, road less travelled, trekking

 

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