Trekking (or not) in Kalaw

Kalaw Travel Blog

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Larry wading through flooded Nyaungshwe

It stormed all night and we awoke to a totally flooded courtyard wondering if we would be able to make it out today. Our original plan was to go to the local market this morning and then have breakfast before driving back down the mountain. Unfortunately the market is underwater so we will have to revert to Plan B.

We had breakfast with Tobin as we watched the water level rise and the rain come down. The road into town was inundated with knee deep gushing water and the house started flooding. Min Min came out and told us that a dam had broken and we would have to wait and see if we could make it to Kalaw. Actually what we thought he said was that we would have to see about the "saturation" of the road - pretty big vocabulary for a non-native speaker (his English is great but occasionally a little tough to grasp).

Floods on the way to Kalaw
We later realized, after hearing this several times, that "saturation" is his pronunciation of situation and has nothing to do with how much water the ground has absorbed - to funny.

We ended up sitting in the dining room playing chess with Tobin and waiting for news (but since there was no electricity there wasn’t any TV.) One of the girls who works here said her house was flooded waist deep with a smile on her face, nothing seems to bother them.

We went to hang in the room a bit, and then Min Min told us that the broken dam had been temporarily fixed for the visiting VP who was here to attend the last day of the festival. He said we should go now because the dam repair probably wouldn't last so we waded to the car and prepared for another exciting journey.

The ride was wet, slow and tedious but Kalaw is normally only a couple hours from Inle so it only took about three hours, not bad all things considered.

Buddha in the Golden Cave in Kalaw

We checked into our new digs in Kalaw, the Eastern Paradise - I hope Paradise has a better view and more than two TV channels, both in Burmese. It was actually a nice friendly place. It was still pouring out and Min Min felt bad that we hadn't been able to visit the Buddha Caves at Pindaya so he took us to several of the local sites including the Golden Cave, a smaller version of the Pindaya Caves with hundreds of Buddhas in a deep cave and Nge Paya which houses a famous seven or eight foot bamboo Buddha. There are only supposed to be a few of these Buddhas woven from bamboo in the entire country, kind of a dying art form. 

Later we walked around Kalaw but not much was going on because of the weather.

Bamboo Buddha in Kalaw
We stopped at a store that actually sold local wine and, believe it or not, something called Grappalino that is supposed to be Grappa but at 10,000 Kyat it wasn't in the budget so we opted for the locally brewed whiskey instead, a bargain at 1,000 Kyat (about 75 cents). I really should have bought the Grappa (perhaps if Paul were here).

We had dinner at a local Chinese place that, like many restaurants here, had no prices on the menu (we have learned to ask). The conspiracy theory voice in my head tells us that this is so they can gauge your level of ignorance and gullibility and charge accordingly (there is most definitely a two tier, local and tourist pricing system here). After dinner I saw Cindy try to surreptitiously swap our beer mugs because a fly was doing the breaststroke in her beer - ain't love grand. A Burmese cover of CCR's ''Proud Mary" was playing on the jukebox, wonder if they pay royalties?  Maybe that can be the next RIAA target.

We walked back to Eastern Paradise in the dark (I guess when the electricity goes out constantly you don't invest in street lights) and ended up having whisky cocktails and cigars with a friend of Min Min's who is a local trekking guide. He said that it had been raining to hard and to much to trek and that it would be muddy, slippery and dangerous. Considering trekking is how he makes his living, we decided to heed his advice so looks like we are off to Mandalay early.

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Larry wading through flooded Nyaun…
Larry wading through flooded Nyau…
Floods on the way to Kalaw
Floods on the way to Kalaw
Buddha in the Golden Cave in Kalaw
Buddha in the Golden Cave in Kalaw
Bamboo Buddha in Kalaw
Bamboo Buddha in Kalaw
Kalaw Hotels & Accommodations review
Eastern Paradise Hotel The Eastern Paradise Hotel in Kalaw is on a small street right off of the main road running through Kalaw and is a homey… read entire review
photo by: Mezmerized