The Burmese, too, go out for breakfast.
We get up at 4.30 am, because our bus leaves for Kalaw at 6 and we hate rushing in the morning. Breakfast is as usual, toast with egg or jam, served in the lobby of the hotel. Trudy has already gone back to our room to brush her teeth. When I get up to follow her, Dolores, with her 79 years of age the oldest of our party, trips on the door mat while going out the front door. Every last one of us is right awake now and within seconds everyone is up and about, taking care of our senior citizen. She’s taken quite a fall, breaking her dentures in half and creating a severe wound on her left shin and some bruises in her face in the process. With everyones help we still manage to depart as planned. Ton has to promise that he will glue Dolores’ dentures back together again this evening, because she finds it hard to eat and talk without them.
We stop briefly at seven to enjoy the sunrise, I don’t mind at all, because I’m starting to fall asleep again.
At 7.15 and 8.15 am sanitary stops are made and I use these short pauses to take some pictures of the daily lives of the Burmese.
A dedicated follower of fashion??
While driving we pass the new capital that is still under construction. The road leading to the city is so wide that, when we cross it, initially I mistake it for a parking lot. We keep going until 10, then it’s time for a coffee in a local restaurant. In front of the restaurant people are selling fruits and sweets and we buy some Burmese candy, which is nice, if eaten occasionally.
After driving for another 30 minutes our driver pulls the handbrake, because he spotted a small village festival where children are performing. They are dancing to music that is way too loud and out of tune, but nobody seems to notice that.
The audience is actually more interesting than the young performers, although it is very funny how the children freeze every time the music stops due to a power outage. The people in the audience beg to differ, however, in their opinion it is us, the white tourists that are the atraction of the day. We pay only a brief visit of ten or so minutes, obviously the show is meant for family and friends, and we are neither.
Children dancing to music that is severely out of tune and way too loud.
It is not even twelve when we stop for lunch, our dishes are neither bad, nor a culinary high. What makes this meal a lot better is the company of Anne and Rudolf, they have seen many parts of the world and they have some great stories to tell. Some way or another they think a lot like us and that makes conversation a lot easier.
Around 2 pm there’s a compulsory stop, because the air-conditioning has broken down and it needs to be fixed.
The cause of the problem might be that we are well on the way of climbing the mountain on which Kalaw lies, and the engine has trouble pulling the weight of the bus up the sometimes steep road and powering the aircon at the same time. The break is gratefully used to have a coffee or a soda. When we are on the way again the road gets narrower and worse, much worse. Sometimes there’s only tarmac in between the holes, on other stretches the asphalt has disappeared altogether. Adding to the problem is the fact that the road is very busy with mostly buses and lorries, hauling people and goods up the mountain. Overtaking is difficult at best and it’s a slow ride. Even when we have an occasional view over the hills and vales, nowhere is another road to be seen, so we must be on the highway through the mountains. The road is under construction on several locations and the conditions are bad, no machines, only men and women breaking rock and putting it in to place with there bare hands. Not to mention the clouds of wirling dust that must make breathing a job on its own.
Entertainment for young...
The pay for this job is one dollar per day.
We have to pull over one more time to fix the air-conditioning, near a bridge this time, where a woman is washing herself and buffaloes are herded in the background.
When the aircon breaks down for the third time, the drivers give up and we continue with the windows open, closing them everytime a dust cloud approaches.
We reach Kalaw before 5 pm and this makes our driver very happy, because he didn’t fancy driving this road in the dark. When we get up to our room, we find out that we have an enormous living quarters with three beds, a spacious place to sit and a nice bathroom.
Not bad, this Winner Hotel. We do some laundry in the bathtub, because the plug is missing from the sink. The hotel changes money at a reasonable rate and loaded with Kyats we go out for dinner. In our travel guide a small place called Tha Zin is mentioned and we decide to check it out. The food could have been a bit warmer, but the presence of the 84 year old owner with his stories and his card trics make us forget this tiny bit of criticism in a couple of seconds. The only two other guests are a Swiss couple who are traveling on their own with a Burmese guide accompanying them. The price of the food is ridiculous: 7200 Kyats for two soups, two main courses and two bottles of water. Tea and peanuts are on the house.
A lady is taking a bath, while our drivers fix the aircon for the second time.
Back in our gigantic room we take a nice shower and hit the sack early.
Kalaw Restaurants, Cafes & Food review
Good food and a warm welcome, almost for free!!
Tha Zin Restaurant is run by the 84 year old owner and his lovely daughter. The daughter is the cook, the father is the host/waiter/entertainer.
Do n… read entire review