When we rely too much on tourist guides such as the Lonely Planet, you get some bad suprises. Not that I say that the LP is the bad guide, but in a fast evolving and moving country such as Burma, it is hard to find the good deal without compromising quality. Indeed we found by discussing with people who were in Burma a 3 months before we went and came back at the same time than us in February that prices of hôtel have increased by 25% without any quality improvement in the quality and standard. For 25 dollars, you can get sometimes (but too many times) a dirty double bed room with no Windows (or Windows facing a 50cm away wall), no air conditionning when outside température reaches 30 degrees or more. Joy of travelling, would you tell me. Yeah, as long as prices match the offered standard. Today in Burma, you can feel the burst !! More and more people, tourist equals money and the gold fever is everywhere. In this country where people have suffered from loneliness and poverty, tourism become a way to improve the way of life. But at what cost ? Prices consitently increase, the tourist is become a cash cow.
The trek from Kalaw to Inle Lake didn’t make any exception..
The trek organizator, Rambo and his Brother, as they name theirselves, draw you a dream list of your dream trek. No tourists, you will sleep in remote areas where only a few lucky people can go, will sleep in rural area and untouched monastery. Rambo (from the Lily Guest house) describes himself as an honest man without prétention, studying flowers and who will teach us during the trek some of his trics. He said that himself or one of his 5 other brothers, who are like him, are same. Good, good….
Before going on trek, we spend a day in Kalaw, a city where most of the people work for the army.
We have visited the market, a few pagodas and although ride the bike. We kind of stay active and fit in Myanmar!!
Let’s go back to the trek…
But on the D day, after one hour of waiting because the groups (5 to 6 groups of tourists like us) were not organized, neither the guide allocated. And our guide was not him or his Brother, but a lovely Burmese guy, speaking average English and guide since one month.. What a suprise…
Anyway, let’s see what the trek will offer us…
Back to reality was a bit tough. Not like we are not fit, but we were announced 5 hours walking per day, we have done 8 hours and température between 10am to 3pm were high enough to cook your eggs on a stone outside.
With the temperature, your foot start to melt and warm up pretty quickly. Welcome to blisters…. Smelly foot at the end of the day…
Although the landscapes are quite nice, they are not worth a three days trek as they are pretty much the same along your 3 days journeys.
And honestly, I was expecting something different. As you will see in the following pictures and galery of photos, we slept at the inhabitants place and in a monastery but didn’t share neither anything local nor any discussions. The only word they pronounced was « Beer ? »
At the monastery, we slept with 40 other tourists.. It was hard to grab some good pics with no one (non local) behind.
So as a summary, go for the one day trek if you are really keen, you will see most of it in one day. And at the end of the day, you want to be able to arrive to Inle Lac. But don’t go by yourself, people barely speak English, there is no signs. Unless you have one week to cover the distance…
In this third part of Myanmar, the higlight was Inle Lake, and we didn’t get disappointed.
We cross it south to north (at the end of the trek) and west to east by bike and boat. But we didn’t swim it… The views are nice, you can see the traditional fishermen and long neck woman, pagodas around, etc…but if you do it riding your bicycle, Watch out the big bus of tourists (and locals) on the narrow and dusty road. The east side road of the lake is less busy. (the one going to the winery where we stop…)
Pictures of our journey around Inle Lake are below :
Jacques and Caro