We had looked at a few companies that offer 1, 2 or 3 day treks from Kalaw, a small hill side town, to the famous Inle Lake. We decided to go with Ever Smile Trekking Services. Some companies had different pricing options that were confusing but Ever Smile told you the total cost upfront. After talking with the staff in the office, we decided on the 2 day/1 night option. We were warned it would be hot. Very hot.
I was quite nervous about the trek. I’m not young. Nearly mid fifties. We walk everywhere but this would be very different to anything I’ve done before. And it was in Burma! I was worried everyone would be young and fit and they would be constantly turning around, looking at me for holding them all up!
It was hard going. Really hard.
But it was amazing.
There were initially 9 of us in the group. 4 from the UK including us. 2 from Spain. 2 from Germany, (both doctors, yay!), and 1 from Chile. They said they like to keep the groups small so the 2 from Spain got moved to a different group. Our guide was ToeToe, (she told me that’s how you spell it!,) was a demon! No, she was lovely but she worked us really hard.
We walked through some amazing countryside villages, stopping at some for a rest/drink along the way.
ToeToe explained the history of the villages.
In one village there were only 2 elderly women left who did the weaving and when they died, there would be no-one to carry on with the craft.
We had to walk across several rickety bamboo bridges. Some were without any handrails where you had to balance with your backpack, with flowing rivers and streams below.
After lunch it was back on the trail.
We arrived in the village as dark was descending.
Dinner was cooked by the women of the house and was delicious. Only one of the dishes had meat, with everything else pure vegetarian.
We were all exhausted so it was an early night!
We made it within 10 minutes of the sun setting. 10 minutes to just sit. And relax…
We stayed overnight in the homestay. We slept, all 7 of us, in the room upstairs where the family usually slept.
The next day was an early start. I think the cockerels started around 3am! After a cold ‘bucket’ shower, and breakfast of traditional Shan mashed potato and fruit, we set off again.
The scenery was different the next day. After an initial walk uphill, the rest of the trek was more downhill and very rocky. We were all very tired and aching. Eventually, from the hills looking down, we could see our destination: Inle Lake!
After a stop for lunch we said goodbye to ToeToe and climbed into the longtail boat that would take us to the place we were staying at the lake, Nyaung Shwe.
Inle Lake was amazing. Just like the photos you see of the men fishing with the nets. They are known as the Intha people. The lake draws in the tourists hoping to catch a glimpse of the Intha men doing their iconic fishing with the nets. It was magical.
In total we walked approximately 35 – 40km in 2 days! That wouldn’t be too bad but given the hills and steep rocky descents it was pretty tough going.