Nestled in the misty blue hills of Shan state in Myanmar, Kalaw was founded as a hill station by the British. With a laid back vibe, cool & refreshing climate and scenic views of the hills, Kalaw is a good base for treks around the area.
Surrounded by the Shan hills, Kalaw is great to relax, enjoy the view and that’s exactly what we did for next two days! Other than cycling around the small hill town exploring nearby monasteries, pagodas & the market at leisure.
Nepalese & Indian food is popular in Kalaw, but we spent a day sampling local Shan food and a visit to the local market where villagers from surrounding hills come to sell their produce & crafts. Other than clothes & winter wear, dried tea leaves, fermented tea leaves, fresh fruits from around the region, dried flour cakes (papad), pickles, spices, herbs, dried meat, local street food and salads, there was also a wet market section with fresh vegetables & meat. Did you know the Burmese use tea leaves as a food ingredient? Other than brewing tea, the leaves are fermented to make a special Burmese tea-leaf salad. And avocados mostly used in salads are commonly available in restaurants and streets!
Thein Taung pagoda and monastery is a short walk up a nearby hill. With beautiful views of the town and the surrounding hills, it’s quite rewarding to spend time at the Buddhist monastery and see the daily life of young Buddhist monks who call it home.
It was playtime for the young monks when we reached and they were getting ready to play football in the courtyard. While two monks got a bicycle without a tire and took turns riding on the mud path, there was one who was taking a selfie with the back camera of an old phone! While I saw these monks playing inside the monastery, there was this boy nearby trying to fly a kite outside his house. A small video from inside the study hall at the monastery.
The monastery is a great place to catch a sunset even though it gets crowded with tourists by evening. After a beautiful sunset over the town of Kalaw, it was time to prepare for the 3-day trek to Inle Lake through tribal villages of the Shan hills. A 60 km hike through gentle rolling hills with colorful fields of vegetables, spices and avocado trees, home stays in Bamboo huts and local village life.
But before that some rules on “How to be a Better Traveller” in Myanmar! ( You can view the above image in full size image by clicking on it) This was on the wall at our tour guide’s office and he insisted everybody reads them before we start the trek; a great way to learn and a reminder to respect the people & culture of the places we travel to!