After Inle, we tried to find a more interesting and less touristy location. On a whim, we decided to travel to Kalaw, a small town about an hour and a half from Inle (but enroute to Bagan). We took an early morning bus out and arrived around 12 PM. Kalaw was a little town that (according to Liam) had a Nepalese feel. Our goal in Kalaw was to go trekking or hiking to see some local tribes. Luckily, here, it was more dry and the rainy season hadn't changed the atmosphere too much. At the bus station, we found the most lovely little travel agency (Ever Smile) that arranged some men with motorbikes to take us up the mountain. Due to a time constraint, we didn't have a lot of time to trekking and because of the muddy roads up the mountain, taxis were out of the question. Thus, we had men with motorbikes (which cost is 7 bucks for 4 hours each). The mud was so bad and we got so dirty going up the path, it was ridiculous.
Anyways, the halfway point was called "Viewpoint." It is a little restaurant run by a Nepalese family on top of a mountain. It has views over green tea fields and they offer vegetarian dishes. It was roughly one dollar a person for the meal so we definitely treated our motorcycle men to some lunch. It was delicious and the views were breathtaking.
After Viewpoint, our motorbike men took us to a local tribal village. They, clearly, got very excited by foreigners so they could sell us things. However, it wasn't aggressive or off-putting. It was more endearing. It started raining as we approached this town so the first family invited us into their home. The interior had a fire pit in the middle and they were making tea. They had two babies, a grandma, and two mothers. They made us green tea and they proceeded to dress me up in their tribal clothing. Eventually they gave me the baby to hold too and it made quite an entertaining photo.
As the rain cleared, we wandered around more, got approached to buy more hats (which we eventually caved), and found a local school. The children were so cute. Luckily, Liam had picked up some candy from a shop prior to our trip so he did little competitions with the kids.
Near the school was a path to another village. The landscape was breathtaking and as we approached the next village, we were greeted by two toddlers laughing their asses off at us for no reason. Sort of like the two olds guys who laugh a lot in the muppets. This village was beautiful, legitimate life. It wasn't tainted by the outside world and gave us a glimpse into what life is like inside rural Myanmar. The people were real. The houses were real. The hospitality was real. It painted a picture in our heads that probably, in fifty years, will no longer exist as Myanmar slowly opens up to the world. A world to remember.
As we wandered the village, we discovered some young monks playing around. I convinced them to jump for some photos. They were really amused but definitely a unique find. It was a village of legitimately beautiful people. We were invited into two more homes, offered tea, and they innocently tried to sell us more things. We bought some cigars that had rolled and green tea but we really didn't want more hats. haha.
Around this point, our my motorbike man's bike broke down and we told them to not worry, and that we'd walk down. So, we set on a trek down the mountain, getting lost in some green tea fields with amazing clouds. Eventually, we found the road and apparently our motorbike men were looking for us. They fixed the bike! As we got down the mountain, the rain started again. Our motorbike men took us into their home and their family made us dinner. They were so lovely.
After, we went back to Ever Smile, hung out, and waited for the next night bus to Bagan. Busy, busy trip.