A peaceful hill station with a kick ass restaurant!
Kalaw Travel Blog› entry 249 of 658 › view all entries
January 23rd, 2008 – by: Deats
Kalaw is a pleasant little hill town, that was used as a retreat by the British during colonial times. In my opinion, the most obvious sign of occupation comes with the large Indian population, who stayed behind when the British withdrew, although the railway line is another clear indicator that the Brits had left their mark here. The word Kalaw actually derives from the Palaung word for bowl, which is Kalaug. The British must have heard them call the area this and derived Kalaw from it. The reason that the Palaung called the area a bowl is in reference to the area been encircled by mountains on all sides and before i actually found out this interesting fact, i had commented to Julia about the topography and how the mountains circled the town.
It had been a 3am start to catch the bus out of Bagan and on to Kalaw. None of this arty farty air con stuff was available, so we were bundled onto an old banger of a machine that would ply the 200kms in a little over 10 hours - wonderful! So you see, this glamorous image i sometimes portray of travelling just simply isn't true! It seemed a little wierd that all the travellers tickets were allocated on the right side of the bus and the locals all scored seats on the left, but this became obvious once the sun had risen and was blazing through the windows. It got so hot that people were opting to sit in the aisle and leave their window seat empty! The roads were pretty shocking too and in most areas can only be described as collapsing piles of rubble, which the bus trundled over as it snaked around and up and down the lofty hills that stood in our way.
Arriving into Kalaw around 1.30pm we set about finding a decent place to crash and lucked out once again with the fabulous Pine Land Hotel, which only charged $6 for an en-suite hot water double with breakfast! Next task was to book some trekking and local guide John was on hand to offer his services. He gave us the low down on the 3 day trek to Inle Lake and after also checking out another agency, we decided that we would stick with him. For $7.20 a day we would be provided with all of our meals, accomodation, guide and bag transfer, now thats a good deal! Arrangements were made to meet up at 8.30am the following morning and we were once more psyched to be back in the Myanmar that i had previously enjoyed so much before Bagan.
Venturing out for a walk around, we walked past Aung Chang Tha Zedi and went down to the train station, from where we completed a loop by walking back up towards the town mosque and the market place. Our bellies were both rumbling, so we decided to head to a Nepali restaurant listed in our book, but instead got drawn into Sams Family Restaurant, and praise the Lord we did! The prices were very cheap and thus we ordered a small feast, which included Pumpkin Soup, Chips, Sweet and Sour Pork, Chicken and Cashew Nuts with Fried Rice, some prawn crackers to start and some fruit to finish and washed down with some cola and tea. Unbelievably the bill came to about $4 and i can't remember the last time that i had been so thoroughly stuffed! The sweet and sour pork has to go down as one of my all time favourites and i was gutted we wouldn't be eating there again.
To try and walk off the calories, we headed up a hill to Thein Taung Paya for some pretty fantastic views of Kalaw below. It was already getting dark, so it was back to the hotel to chill out. Sadly our room was having problems with its wiring, so they pulled a light from another room and somehow hot wired it into an extension cable that they ran into our room, great work! Also we had a TV in our room and got to watch the movie channels all night, the only problem been that reception had the control for the satellite and we had to put up with them flicking it between channels at their will! Still, it was better than nothing and a real treat to have a TV in the room! I feel sleep sometime around 10pm, once again physically drained.
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