Saturday, February 27, 2016

Day 2 of Our Trek to Inle Lake.

Still in great spirits after an hour long hike in the rain.  Our shoes were caked with red mud!

N othing is better than a restful night's sleep.   While we slept on the floor last night, the mattresses were just thick enough to give us comfort and there were enough blankets to keep us warm.  I was awake before the other two.  First thing I did was peek out the window.  It was a foggy morning and there was a bit of damp chill in the air.  We have another 20 kilometer walk ahead of us and as far as I was concerned, a cool, cloudy day makes for good walking weather.

While the other two were still asleep, I quietly snuck out to get ready for the day.  It was a quick visit to the out house.  Outhouses are not always pleasant to use but I have to say, the woman who lives here is immaculate.  The outhouse was as spotlessly clean as the main house and grounds around the house are devoid of trash - I think she sweeps everyday!

The little hut on the left, with the tin door, is the outhouse.  The building in the middle is the barn for the two zebu.

I then went in search of and quickly found the garden spigot for water to brush my teeth with.  Unlike many travelers, I don't have any concerns or  issues with using tap water to brush my teeth.  With my basic morning duties done, I headed back to the room.  The other two were awake and one by one, they got ready for the day as well.  We had all slept in our clothes last night and I don't think anyone of us changed out of them this morning.  We'll clean up when we get to our hotel in Inle Lake.

Bro getting ready for the day.

Good morning!

Our humble village home.


Before breakfast, Aung took us on a short walk around the village.  It was barely 7:30a when we set out and all around, villagers were already hard at work.








Even the small village *convenience* store was already open for business.  I was very curious to see what they sold.


There wasn't much on the shelves.  Villagers grow all their own veggies so no need to sell produce.  I was surprised to see the eggs as I would have expected that people raise their own chickens but I guess not everyone does. There were qite a few snack foods, packaged food items like instant noodles, a few canned items and not to my surprise, several boxes of booze :-)


By the time we made it back to the house, our young chef as already hard at work prepping our breakfast.  It was a simple meal of fried eggs with some bread and fruit. It was enough food to get us going for the day.


After breakfast, it was time to pack up and hit the road!

Getting ready for another day of trekking!

I had to post up this random shot. It's a view of the bamboo floor of the room we slept in, taken from the floor below.

Turns out that one of the products that our host family makes and sells are bamboo baskets.  Behind the main house, a small group of men, were busy at work preparing the bamboo for weaving.



Three very curious girls were watching our every move from the other side of a small hill.  I decided to have some fun with them and Ayşe joined.  She adores kids.


Of course, she quickly became popular when the girls spotted the cookies in her hands.  Next thing you know, a little boy had scampered over to us to see what all the commotion was about.  His eyes fell on the cookies and then on the two of us.  Ayşe had given away all the cookies to the girls so she told them to share the cookies with him. Language barrier or not, they knew what to do and we left behind a little boy feeling like he had not been left out.


Bye!

Before leaving, we said our thank you's to our hostess.  She was such a lovely woman and with Aung translating, we told her how much we enjoyed her stay and how immaculately clean she keeps her house. She looked very happy at the positive feedback she was receiving.  Sadly,  I hadn't had a chance to shop for a gift for them before leaving Kalaw so at the last minute, I grabbed all the toiletries from our hotel room in Kalaw.  It was all we had to give her.

On our way out of the village, we passed the small wooden temple. 


There's little money to maintain it so it was a bit run down but it's still in daily.





We also walked past the village's small school.  From the looks of it, the older kids do receive an education.


The village *dump*.   Thankfully, plastic has not really invaded the lives of the villagers.


The first part of our walk took us back to the rice fields.  From a distance, Aung stopped so we could take a look back at the village where we spent the night.


He tried to point out *our house* but looking at the cluster of homes, I had no idea which one it was.



Like yesterday, we made our way across fields, through woods and on the occasional paved road.




On one stretch of the walk, Aung told us we would be heading uphill for quite some time.  After that, we would descend towards the lake.  After day of seeing arid fields, it was nice to take in some highland scenery.


We didn't pass through as many villages today as we did yesterday and we didn't stop in any of the ones that we did pass.  I think Aung was worried about the pace of our walking and wanted to make sure we made it the hotel before nightfall :-)


Today is Saturday which is market day.  We found ourselves walking with people, mainly women, carrying what looked to be impossible large and heavy sacks and baskets on their backs, on the way to the nearest market.



Surprisingly, over the course of two days, we only encountered two small herds of animals.  For some reason I had expected more.


As I looked back at the cows going by us, I noticed a motorcyclist approaching us.

I am one with the herd.

As he neared us, he stopped.  Aung greeted him with a big smile.  Turns out, this man was ferrying our suitcases to our next destination.  Yes, those are our suitcases underneath all that white plastic.  It was too funny!!  I've never crossed paths with my own luggage, on the road, before.


I couldn't see which plastic bag held my suitcase but I easily recognized the plastic bag that held the laquerware plate that I had bought in Bagan.  It was hanging from the left handle bar :-)


The final stretch of our walk was pretty much over flat ground.  I, for one, was over the hiking part of the trek though Aung warned there was still some difficult trekking ahead though it would all be downhill. 


By late morning, we had arrived a small row of shops.  There, we had our rest break.



Aung treated us to a small plate of waffle fries.  Very tasty waffle fries as a matter of fact.  I would've never thought the Burmese would be such good cooks when it comes to frying potatoes but they are!


Our little eatery was located right next door to a motorcycle repair shop.  It was interesting watching the men cobble together new parts to fix broken ones.  You make do with what you have and do what you can to repair what you got.  There is no money to simply replace something.


It was a short 20 minute break after which we had about a 2.5 hour walk to make it our final destination.  We were on the last leg of our trek.

 During the first hour or so of our walk we shared the path with another group of tourists most of whom were Americans who looked to be in their late 20's or early 30's.  They had done the 3 day trek.  They were the first group of tourists we had encountered since we left Kalaw.  They were a bit noisy but not rude so it was fine to have them alongside us.

After a while though, we lost track of them.  I think they veered off to go another route.  It was nice to have the road all to ourselves again.


Leaving other people behind, we eventually found ourselves in the company of a very friendly dog who actually walked with us for quite some distance. 



He eventually got rewarded with a snack and then let us go.  I think he got what he had come for and was in search of other hands to feed him :-)


As we walked, the skies got darker and darker; it felt like we were walking towards the storm.


In no time, I felt drops of rain falling on my cheeks.  I stopped to put on my bright blue rain poncho to instantly morph into an oversized blueberryb :-)  The rain actually cooled the air temperature down; it was still humid but much more comfortable for walking.



Of course, it was also now that we had to begin our descent to the lake.  Yes, rain and we have to walk downhill.  It wasn't just a walk, it was actually having to walk down a steep hill of big rocks.  It was a muddy and slippery trek down.  I took each step very slowly and extremely carefully.  The other two are far more sure footed than I plus I was worried about slipping and either reinjuring my left ankle or equally worse, spraining my right ankle.  Thankfully, Aung noticed I was lagging way, way back and came to help me.  With his hand to hold on to, I was able to walk down without falling.  Thank God!!  We took a quick break before continuing on.

My pant legs were wet from the rain and my hiking sandals were caked with red mud.  We were messy but everyone was still in great spirits! I really do appreciate traveling with Bro and Ayşe.  They are both so easy going and rarely does anything bother them.



The last few hundred feet of our walk was on a paved dirt road.  Our end was in sight!


It was 2p when we arrived into the small village of Tone Lé which is situated alongside a tributary of Inle Lake - it's located in the southwest region near the lake.


Tone Lé on the map.

We made our way to a small restaurant where lunch was all ready for us.  Polo was waiting there for us.  It was nice to see him! This was a very, very hearty lunch and we couldn't finish it all so we invited Aung, Polo, and the young man, who was our cook in the village, to join us.  I had thought the young man was a villager but apparently, he works with Aung and had gone to the village to just cook for us.  Today, he would take care of another very important task for us.


Relaxed and happy the trek is over!

It was a quick lunch after which we watched with amusement as the guys worked on loading up our luggage onto a motorcycle to be taken to the hotel.  Bro's black suitcase went on the back.


My green suitcase went up front.


The young man behind the wheel was our cook.  He was now in charge of getting our luggage to the hotel.


Ayşe's suitcase was just a tad too big and bulky to go by bulk so it got taken off on the shoulders of another man.  She's going to have to pack lighter on our next trip. As he walked away, I just hoped it would make it :-)


With our luggage enroute, it was our turn to make our way.....by boat.