Friday, February 26, 2016

Trek From Kalaw to Inle Lake. Day 1. Part 2.


After our village lunch, we, we continued our foot journey through the Kalaw countryside.  At one point, Bro asked Aung how we were doing.  Aung, being the honest Burmese, told us that we were the slowest, yes THE slowest group, that he had ever led on a trek. That gave all of us the biggest laugh!!  Too funny.

The competitive side of Bro wanted us to pick up our speed but I was thinking what's the rush?  We're ending our day in another village where there is not a whole of activity awaiting us.  All we have to do is arrive by nightfall and we were on track to do that.  That was my logic to continue on the same pace.

In the woods, we encountered the ancient stupas, situated in a small, open grove.  I love it when structures are left to age in the elements.  We only spent a few minutes here but I  loved the place - you can tell from the gazillion photos I took.  :-)

The stupas were definitely showing their age and the fact that they've neither been reconstructed or renovated in any way.  Some of the original beautiful detail carving was still intact.  Bricks and stones had or were falling down, stone faces were covered with moss, plant life was growing from brick decayed surfaces that have long been filled in with dirt.  Plant roots protruded from gaps between the bricks, inflicting more damage and yet, holding up falling dirt.

I'd like to imagine this is what places like Angkor Wat looked like before they became popular tourist attractions and got all gussied up.







Walking through the small complex of brick stupas, we crossed paths with a monk. Aung noticed that he had an injured leg and so we paused for Aung to wrap a bandage around the leg.  A good Samaritan he is.  The monk was definitely grateful.







Stupas over, it was back to trekking.  At times, it was not an easy walk, especially when the ground was uneven.  Ridges in the ground, caused by runoff from the rains during rainy season were particularly difficult to walk on.


Here are some more photos from our afternoon walk.







We met up with more villagers we could share our snacks with.  We always parted ways with big smiles.



As we approached the newer stupas, we were approaching our final destination.


This was where we would be spending the night.  It was a much larger village than the others we had passed earlier today.  I know *our* village has a name and I'm sure Aung pointed it out to us when he showed us the map yesterday but I don't know it's name. It'll be forever simply referred to as *our village where we spent the night on our trek to Inle Lake*.  Long name but it'll work.


Aung took us to *our* house, a small two storey home.  While we got acclimated to our surroundings, Aung went to check in with the family.  They were ready for our arrival.


Bro decided the family's baby zebu was hungry and started feeding him green stuff.  I soon got in the act and scrounged around for green stuff to pass along to Bro.  It's amazing how this creature could tell green stuff that was okay to eat from stuff that needed to be rejected.  I quickly figured out the latter and eliminated that stuff from what I handed to Bro.


We were directed to head upstairs where three mattresses had been laid out on the floor.  There were blankets and pillows for each of us.  It was a simple arrangement but all three of us agreed, we would be comfortable sleeping.  The only challenge would be if we had to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night because the toilet was a small out house, located a couple dozen feet away from the main house.


Bro separated the mattresses so we would not be sleeping right up next to each other.



A young man cooked our dinner in a small kitchen next to the main building.  While Aung had brought along a few ingredients in his backpack, the bulk of what we ate came from the village.  Can't eat more local than this!

The village does not have any electricity so the cooking was done over a charcoal fire.  The only light was from candles.


While dinner was being cooked, we went for a short walk around the village.  We didn't wander all that far.


As night fell, so did the temperatures. It's going to be perfect sleeping temperatures for me tonight.  I just  hoped the other two would be okay :-)


The dining room was on the ground floor, an open space next to the kitchen.  I don't know what the space is ordinarily used for - storage perhaps as there was no furniture but there was a motorcycle.

Again, they had set out a low table for us.  It was going to be dining by candlelight.  The first dish that was served was a bowl of French fries. They were unbelievably delicious considering the kitchen they came out of.  Crispy and not at all oily.  We nibbled to the point that there we none left :-)


One by one, bowls of food were brought out from the kitchen.  Except for a small bowl of sauteed chicken, everything else was vegetables and each one was delicious.  The vegetables were not only fresh but expertly cooked - nothing overdone or over seasoned.  I truly enjoyed this meal.  If I had this young man cooking for me every day and I could get vegetables as fresh as these, I would happily be a vegetarian.  It's absolutely astonishing the amount and variety of dishes he was able to cook up using a single small wok in that tiny, bare bones kitchen!


Dessert was an unexpected surprise!  Bananas cooked with honey and then flambéed with rum. We each got our own banana. What a lovely, sweet treat to top off a very satisfying meal!


With no light or electricity to do anything by, we just called it an early night.  It had been a long day and we had another ahead of us tomorrow so time for rest.

Goodnight from a village somewhere between Kalaw and Inle Lake!