To reach Kalaw from Hsipaw we took the night bus. The journey takes about 11 hours and is quite hectic because of the number of turns in the mountains. The road is traced as quickly as possible so the bends follow each other every 20 metres, so be careful not to be sick!
We arrived early, around 5am as we often do here and went straight to look for accommodation. This time we found it the first time, so we were able to finish our night in a bed. After resting for a while, we meet a French couple Emma and Lucas who are travelling for a few months in Asia. They are also there for the three-day trek to Lake Inle, so we decide to go looking for an agency together.
After having done several agencies, we chose the Sam’s Family which turns out to be the cheapest and most complete (and after a long explanation by Uncle Sam himself, it was difficult for us to say no!). It is one of the biggest agencies in the city so many tourists find themselves there. We chose a three-day trekking tour of about 60 km to reach Lake Inle in a group of 6 people. We will be 4 French and a couple of Japanese.
At 8:30 am, we left for our first day of walking with 21 km on the clock. We get to know our young guide Kin-Kin and our cook Mounty (yes because each group has a dedicated cook). We leave the city to go deeper into the forest and quickly reach the lake or rather the water reserve announced in the program. The place is pretty but not exceptional, the break will be short and we leave for the heights to reach the village where we have to eat. We pass among some cultures the opportunity to have some explanations from Kin-Kin who doesn’t speak much. We meet and pass several other trekking groups on the road and we hope that one thing: that our group of 6 doesn’t end up at 20!
We arrive at the place where we have our lunch, the landscape around us is really pretty. We’re just a little disappointed because after our trek in Hsipaw we thought we’d go eat with a family instead, it’s a bit like a restaurant, all the tourist groups are there, there are no locals except our cooks.
After having taken the path again, we walk on the rails, it’s quite original we hadn’t done it yet. On the other hand, after a few hundred meters it gives you a headache from constantly looking at the rails to see where to put our pussies!
The last few kilometres sunk in, we arrive at the village around 5pm. We discover our new house for one night and take the opportunity to share a moment with our host and the children by helping them peel the garlic and playing with them after work. Our cook’s meal is as usual excellent and as we are tired, after a beer and a deck of cards we go to bed!
After a rough night between snoring, roosters crowing at 3am and dogfights, we head back on the road in the best of ways: a nice climb from 8am! The sun is present but also the fresh wind so we stay a little covered. Once up there, the view quickly makes us forget the lack of sleep.
We walk along the ridge, then through the pepper fields. We haven’t tested it, but it seems that eating a chilli just picked doesn’t sting much. We cross two villages of two different tribes but we feel that people are tired of seeing tourists passing through there, because nobody answers our hello and smiles. At the same time, if there were groups of Chinese people spending every hour in front of my house, I’d quickly get tired of it too! So we understand them a little bit these people who didn’t ask for anything and we try to be discreet while respecting their custom and their environment.
We continue our journey through the mountains. The blisters are starting to make themselves felt and make the end of the day difficult. For our second night, we arrive in a “tourist village”. It is at the top of a mountain and at first sight, as we arrive there at the same time as the inhabitants who return from their fields, we think that it looks nice but once at the top we count more tourists than locals. It’s simple, almost every house has a group of walkers. We wanted to take a walk in the streets but obviously everyone had the same idea so we didn’t see much. We took a very quick shower, with ice water and between four walls of bamboo that barely held, but it still feels great!
We will eat another delicious meal prepared by our cook (and not by the family that hosts us, which we also found a little unfortunate), have a beer and then a deck of cards and we are in bed. We sleep in a kind of big, two floors above the cows. The night will be as noisy as the previous one, but the body begins to get used to it and sleep prevails.
The view of the fields in the early morning is beautiful and we are off to a good start on our last day. We only have a little more than 15 km left to walk and that’s good because there are two of us (Anne and Emma) suffering from foot problems! On the way, we pass by a small cabin where we meet other groups of walkers to pay the entrance fee to Inle Lake. This is a mandatory step although it seems a little unjustified to us, but we pay without hesitation to continue the journey.
Finally, far away, we can see Inle Lake. Well, it’s still a long way off, but at least the target is in sight. The last part of the path is nice, we go down into the forest by small paths to the freshness of the trees. The last meal will be as usual in a tourist canteen and to finish his three days of walking Kin-Kin and Mounty take us back to the pier to take the boat.
And that’s it, the three days’ walk ends with an hour’s boat ride on Inle Lake to the north where our hotels are located, all you need to forget the pain of your feet and discover this magical place.
We loved walking in the different landscapes that the region offers: fields, mountains, villages, forests, semblance of jungle… Our guide Kin-Kin was adorable although not very talkative about the explanations where it was always necessary to go and get the information. Our small group was nice too and we continued to see Emma and Lucas afterwards. We found that the Sam’s family’s trekking organisation was correct but we regret that the place is already too popular with tourists. Indeed, we met a lot of them on the road and we all found ourselves in the same place to eat for lunch and in the villages in the evening. Moreover, we would have liked to share real moments with our hosts in the evening as we had done around the fire in Hsipaw’s trek but in the end we saw them when we arrived home and when we left. Since we had our cook (very good by the way and we never ate the same thing twice), we didn’t taste their food and so we didn’t really have any exchanges. In short, it was three very busy days, we are proud of the achievement once again and delighted with the encounters and the landscapes.