Suitcase and World: On Our Way to Kalaw.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

On Our Way to Kalaw.

From Pindaya Caves, we continued our drive to Kalaw. We made a few stops before we arrived at our hotel.

Pindaya is well known for the making of paper from mulberry bark, for making umbrellas and parasols and for weaving bamboo hats.  Everything is still done by hand from start to finish.

The first stop was at a small workshop that makes the umbrellas.  It was a very small operation, I would say family owned and operated.  We saw the process starting from mashing the pulp to mixing it with water to spreading the mash onto screens.  Flower petals were then added to the wet paper for decoration.

The dried paper then forms the top of the umbrella.  Beautiful, isn't it?

We then got to see a bit of how they fashion bamboo into the stretchers, shaft and handle.

We did a quick walk through to see some of the umbrellas that were for sale.  They are pretty but not something I can easily bring home with me :-(

It was a very quick stop at the umbrella place.  On the way to our next destination, we drove past Pindaya Caves and a large cluster of gilded stupas.

The next place was a small family run operation making bamboo hats.  These hats are used by locals and of course, available to tourists.  We had Ayşe be our model.  For a few seconds, she was tempted to get one.  She loves to work in her garden in the summer and this is perfect for keeping her head cool and shading her face from the sun.  In the end, she decided not to get one.  Too much trouble to have to lug along on the rest of our trip.

Onwards to Kalaw we went, driving through a very dry landscape as it has not rained here in months.

In Kalaw, Polo asked if we would be interested in seeing the train station, a relic from when the British occupied the country.

The station is very small by comparison to a modern station but it does have some bit of English architecture charm.

The station is still in use today - we could take it all the way to Yangon if we wanted to.  If I ever get to come back to Myanmar, I would love to do a train ride.

It was close to 6p when we arrived at the Pine Hill Resort in Kalaw.  Kalaw is nestled in the highlands as it was a former British hill station.  It was nice to be surrounded by greenery. Weather wise, it was nice and cool.

Our trekking guide, who introduced himself as Aung, was already waiting for us when we entered the hotel.  As Polo worked to get us checked  in, Aung used the time to talk to us about our two day, one night village trek from Kalaw to Inle Lake.  Yes, I signed us up for a village trek :-)

Of course, Aung was familiar with the route and he easily pointed it out to us on the map.  Even after listening to him, we really had no idea what we were going to be in for though I was very much looking forward to it.  On the trek, we will be stopping at several villages along the way and then we'll be spending the night in a village house.  The plan is for us to just take our backpacks with whatever we would need for our overnight trip.  We would leave our luggage behind with Aung's company and they would take it to our Inle Lake destination for us.

Business cards for Polo and Aung.

After Aung finished up his orientation presentation to us, we headed to our room to get settled in.  For convenience, we just had dinner in the hotel restaurant.  Before lights out, we all did our packing for the trek.  I'm really excited about the walk - I just hope I can keep up :-)

Goodnight from Kalaw!