A warm welcome in a cold, distant village
Pindaya Travel Blog› entry 8 of 27 › view all entries
We get up at six thirty and one of the first things on Trudyâs mind is: I hope we are not having toast for breakfast. Iâm not that keen on toast anymore either, imagine our faces when we find out that we will be having pancakes with jam or sugar today! We mustnât saunter, because of the cold in the restaurant goes cold very quickly.
In every village in this region thereâs a big market once in every five days, and weâre in luck, today it is Kalawsâ turn. Immediately after breakfast we set off. At first we walk to the central market, but nothing has changed here since yesterday. We figure this is not the market meant by Aart-Jan and weâll probably have to march a little bit further to the edge of the village.
We get back to the bus exactly on the agreed time, but everybody is already on the bus and ready to go.
We leave immediately and we are exactly on schedule, but just outside the village we have a tiny delay. Our bus needs diesel fuel. The petrol stations are, to say the least, special in Myanmar. Theyâre not much more than a rack with drums of fuel standing in the sunshine, waiting for thirsty vehicles. The drums are emptied into a drum that has a hose with a nozzle attached to it, that is put into the fuel tank. Fuelling up, Burma style.
The scenery during the drive is beautiful, but I canât help dozing off every now and then.
It is 10.30 am when we see the first of Pindaya. After check-in the enthousiasts among us start the two day trek without lingering. The ones that donât feel like walking in the mountains, stay behind and spend their time in the village. Itâs very warm and pretty soon we face some steep climbs. Anne, who doesnât feel too well today, isnât up to the challenge and turns back. The scenery changes every time we take a turn. We walk by a little lake where a group of people are working, it looks like they are washing or rinsing some kind of fibre, but I canât exactly tell what it is.
Quickly our group falls apart, due to the differing speeds of walking.
The track surface changes from clay to rocky, not making walking any easier. We see lots of butterflies and quite some coffee and tea fields, that are mostly on the steeper slopes. We regroup for the last time before lunch near a construction site. The way of building is old fashioned, but then again; try getting heavy machinery up the mountain... I canât tell what is being built here, but I wouldnât be surprised if itâs going to be another temple of some sort.
Lunch is at a fourty minute walk from here.
We meander through the mountainous landscape and at about 3.30 pm the village where we will be spending the night lies in the distance. From this point it is still a 30 minute walk to until we reach the first houses. Situated high in the mountains as it is, the settlement hasnât been spoiled by mass tourism, yet.
Itâs a little after four when we see the abbot of the monastery (currently also the only monk, because the others have temporarily gone to other monasteries in the country) teaching some, likely, holy text to a number of small children who repeat the manâs words fanatically.
A few minutes later we are sipping tea, nibbling on a slice of cake, waiting for the abbot to meet us. Four thirty, the man walks in, solemn, but with a smile on his face. He doesnât speak any English, but one of our guides serves as an interpreter.
After the audience everybody, except Trudy and myself, goes for a walk through the village, as a group.
Now it is our time to go for the village tour. Just the two of us, giving us a better chance of some interaction with the inhabitants, groups are intimidating. The children are having the time of their lives when we show them their pictures we have taken. We are next to one of the last houses of the village when, all of a sudden, Trudy gets invited in. Since I am together with her I have to come in as well. The house is no more than four thick bamboo mats put upright with a roof on them.
We see a luring camp fire in the distance, with dark figures sitting around it. Soon we are one of these figures, warming ourselves again while waiting for the diner call. Our guides and carriers have concocted another great meal for us, after which we gather around the camp fire once again. We are having a lot of fun, poking up the fire, listening to each others jokes and stories, when the guides turn up with a large (very thin) plastic bag with a tiny frame in the opening. The bag is held upside down over the camp fire, so that it fills with hot air.
The temperature has dropped dramatically and a little past nine pm everyone agrees that it is time to hit the sack. Before ten oâclock everyone is lying fully dressed on one of the much too thin matrasses on the floor, covered by one of the much too short blankets. When lying on my back it is either my chest, from the stomach upwards, or my feet (including my ankles) that are uncovered, so this might turn out to be a very long night.