A trek to the lake, with the locals

Two months in an ambulance, followed by planes, trains, buses, bicycles and motorbikes. This time is different, this time we walk. More than 60km to be precise, through the vast fields and wide smiles of the Shan State.

It is the people!

Inle Lake is, together with Bagan, one of Myanmar’s top attractions and there is plenty of ways to get there. A three day trek to the lake’s southern shores sounded way more fun than another bumpy night bus ride, and so we headed to the small town of Kalaw to start our journey.

The promise was picturesque villages and, once again, endless rice paddies. And we got all that.

kalawtrekvillages

kalawtreksunset

However, it was the people we met what made the experience one of the highlights of our time in Myanmar. Starting with our trekking group and finishing with all the locals that constantly greeted us day and night – men and women, young and not-so-young -. They are easily some of the friendliest people we have come across in the last four months. And they are the guest stars on today’s post.

Let’s begin.

kalawtrekgroup2day

Smiles on the road

Tourists are not uncommon in the Shan State these days and it is easy enough to spot other groups doing the same trek. Not many though, and perhaps that is why the vast majority of the locals seemed to be genuinely pleased to see us.

kalawtreklocalsbegin

kalawtreklocalsflowers

kalawtreklocalswomeninthefield

Together with the smiles, there were many curious looks. ”Mingalaba” – “hello” in Burmese – was often enough to turn even the most hard looking men into supermodels for just a few seconds.

kalawtreklocalsmaninturbant

kalawtreklocalsposing

A day in the life of…

Over those three days there was time to appreciate how life goes on in this part of the world. The next two ladies were waiting to get some water from a well – although my suspicion is that they were more interested in getting a picture taken by us.

kalawtreklocalswellpink

kalawtreklocalswellred

But people in general were just getting on with their life, acknowledging our presence by nodding their heads and continuing on with their daily tasks.

kalawtreklocalswomanandrice

kalawtreklocalsmeninthemorning

Each village grows a different crop. From green tea, to oranges, potatoes, parsley and ginger. These two women were in charge of drying thousands of small, colourful chillies and for some reason they could not stop laughing at me and my camera. Must have been the beard.

kalawtreklocalsdryingchillie

kalawtreklocalsdryingchillieorange

Even the animals were keen to be immortalised, specially the cows, who would give the men a hard time each time they saw a camera. Or perhaps they were wondering why on earth I was lying on the floor trying to get that angle. Oh well.

kalawtreklocalsmanwithcows

kalawtreklocalsmancowsunset

Coming Up…

The trek is not over. In the next part you will see some of the biggest smiles of Myanmar and the best football match I have seen in a long time!

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