We left the archaeological splendour of Bagan to a small town called Kalaw after a great four days of cycling in and around temples, losing ourselves in our respective books and drinking Burmese beer.
We were thrilled to hear that pick-up time for our bus journey to Kalaw was 04:45 am. We were even more pleased to realise (with one eye open and the other shut the following morning) that we secured the very last two seats at the rear of what felt like a 60’s manufactured-bus. Of course, we were in Burma, right? So, we weren’t really expecting air-conditioning (despite a fabulously comfortable bus journey between Yangon and Mandalay). Nonetheless, we were fine! Very ‘zen’ about the whole thing, in fact. I suppose, it was hard not to be, particularly after Cambodia.
The majority of the journey was fine. Yes, it was hot. Yes, the entire middle row was full of locals stacked on top of each other on the floor. Yes, I couldn’t really use my arm rest. No, I didn’t really have any space under my seat as the luggage compartment was full and it was used for excess luggage. Yes, there was no air-conditioning and we breathed pure dust through the half-opened windows of the bus for 6 gruelling hours. But, as I said, I felt fine. After Cambodia, it was hard not to. The drivers were friendly and safe. The locals were smiling and non-complaining. Why rock the boat? What’s the fuss?
It all changed for me in the last hour… Admittedly, I’m surprised I didn’t find my insides scattered on the side of the street. By the time we set out of the bus and arrived in Kalaw, my stomach felt so upset from the bumpy, dirt roads and the winding, rolling hills that I was concerned I wouldn’t be able to exit the bus. Luckily, Kalaw is located in a hill, elevated region, and it’s cooler. Not only did this instantaneously make me feel better, but knowing our purpose – that is, to go on a 2 day adventure trek in the openness and genuine isolation of the Burmese countryside – certainly made the journey a worthwhile sacrifice.
I’ve added a few pictures from Kalaw market above, and I’ll save details of our trek from Kalaw to Inle Lake in Myanmar’s Shan State for my next post! 🙂 I hope everyone is doing well.
- Bagan: An ancient city of ten thousand temples (thirdkulturekidparis.wordpress.com)
- Burmese diaries: 445 Miles to Mandalay (thirdkulturekidparis.wordpress.com)
- Pyin U Lwin: An escape to a former British colonial hillstation (thirdkulturekidparis.wordpress.com)
- Sick in Yangon: Unrefined first impressions of Myanmar (thirdkulturekidparis.wordpress.com)