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Arriving into Kalaw

Woken up and thrown off the wonderfully comfortable VVVIP bus (read about it here) at stupid o’clock in the morning on to the streets of cold Kalaw.

A group of us bundled our way into a teahouse we were shown to by some guides who had greeted us as we got off the bus all sleepy eyed and disorientated. The teashop seemed to be the only place open and being used as a hub for guides to snap up some victims customers for the 2 or 3 day trek to Inle Lake, as thats pretty much the only reason tourists stop here.
Josh, an english guy in the group, attempted to order a cup of tea with a dash of milk, he ended up with a black coffee. {editors note: This STILL makes Philipp laugh every time he remembers this, 3 months later!}.

We were being ‘taken care’ of by a little Nepalese man called Dance. I think he was drunk. He was exceptionally bouncy for 4am. He tried his hardest to convince us to use him as a guide, but however nice these people seem, don’t fall for the first one you meet,.

On a side note, he was very informative about other trekking companies, eventually directing us to one that was open, and also about the toilet situation in Kalaw, personally showing me to the public toilet I could use (for small business only). It was the main road. No big deal, it was still dark anyway.

After watching a stunning sunrise over the mountains from the teahouse, and after figuring out how many strange biscuit/cake things we had eaten that we thought had been free, {NOTE: in the teahouses, they bring over a plate of random cakes/fried stuff/dumplings to eat, it is not free!} We set off looking for a trekking company that would take the group of us that morning.

Whilst still in Yangon I had had a quick look at tripadvisor, ie. my bible, and decided there was only one company I would be happy to go trekking with, A1 trekking. They weren’t open yet, so due to peer pressure and extreme tiredness I settled for Sams Family Trekking. They were giving us a cheap deal due to there being 8 of us and were willing to take us on the trek that morning.
‘Uncle Sam’ the guy that runs the place is also very charismatic and can talk the back end of a donkey, we later learnt he was mostly full of shit. He had showed us the map of the route and explained how we would be interacting with the farmers and walking through dense pine forests. We didn’t do either of these things.

I DID NOT want to this this trek. I had come off the bus zombie-like just following the crowd like a sheep with a dreamy idea of a nice trek through the countryside. l had woken up now and realised I had only wanted to do 2 days trekking not 3 and had wanted to spend a day in Kalaw village first to organise my bag and catch up on sleep, and to go with a different company that I had researched first and I don’t really like trekking that much anyway and excuses excuses excuses. Lack of sleep had made me very cranky to say the least.

I  moaned and I bitched before, during and after. While we were preparing our overnight bags with an hour to go before the trek started, I was in a horrible mood. Made worse by the fact we had to organise accommodation in Inle Lake so that they could send our bags there and worrying about leaving my Laptop in these strangers hands versus carrying it with me. (FYI I left the laptop, and it was fine).

But it was to late, we had got the discount for being a big group and already paid up, just time to pack up my little backpack with 3 days worth of underwear (that never got used), eat an over expensive omelette and start the 56km walk to Inle Lake.

Wana know what happened next?… check out the rest of the trekking in Kalaw story here

Arriving into Kalaw
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