Thursday, 29 October 2015

myanmar: enjoying kalaw and inle lake

Amazing rays of light - early morning in Kalaw.

After the intense heat elsewhere in Myanmar, the cool air in the lovely hill town of Kalaw was a welcome respite. We took it easy here.

Monks doing their alms rounds.

We ate frequently at the local Shan noodle shack, Pyae Pyae, relishing assorted tasty dishes at affordable prices.

A noodle dish from Pyae Pyae.

Though this cheap and cheerful restaurant had an English menu, it wasn't tremendously descriptive, so we often had very little idea of what to expect, but I suppose that's half the fun!

Another noodle dish from Pyae Pyae.

I convinced Simon that it would be a great idea to wake up early one morning to climb up to Tein Taung (Cloud Hill) in time for dawn. We took a torch with us and clambered out of our guesthouse in the darkness to venture up the "Stairway to Heaven". Though we had to get out of bed at an ungodly hour, I think the magical view was definitely worth it!

The view from the top of Cloud Hill in Kalaw.

But that's not all - when we went back into town, we discovered that it was market day, and subsequently spent an hour or two wandering around. There was so much to see.

A scene from the Kalaw market.

On our way back to our guesthouse, we bought some breakfast food from this lady, who was selling a starchy concoction of purple glutinous rice and other bits and pieces.

Street food in Kalaw.

This is how it looks like up close:

Burmese breakfast?

There wasn't a lot to do at night, but we did pop into the tiny Hi bar for a rum sour. This cosy little place is listed in the Lonely Planet, but to our surprise, we were the only foreigners there that night, though gauging from a dedicated wall full of messages, they do have travellers coming by reasonably often. I also noticed that there were only men in there on this occasion, and I was the odd woman out! Everyone was really nice and made room for us, despite the place being pretty tight already.

Drinks, snacks and music at the cosy Hi Bar in Kalaw.

After a few days in Kalaw, we took a bus to Nyaung Shwe, a gateway town to the popular tourist attraction that is Inle Lake.

Inle Lake is fantastic! I love how it is truly a society built on top of water. Houses stand on stilts, and people get around and visit each other on boats. They even have fruit and vegetable gardens, and these, too, are taken care of by farmers on boats.

And I really, really love watching the leg-rowing fishermen on Inle Lake. It's just such a cool technique. With incredible finesse, the fisherman balances on his boat, navigating his way gracefully through the tangle of weeds just beneath the water's surface.

A leg-rowing fisherman on Inle Lake.

On one of our boat trips, we stopped by a market.

Getting ashore for the rotating market.

We had breakfast here, starting with a simple but satisfying noodle dish.

Slightly spicy noodles with a sprinkling of peanuts.

We also had these unidentified things, which appear to be tightly compressed noodles strewn with finely chopped herbs and vegetables.

What are these savoury noodle-cakes? If you know what they are called, please let me know!

After a nice stroll around the market, back onto the boat we went.

Fishermen at Inle Lake.

For lunch, we stopped at one of the restaurants on the lake, where we sampled the local fish.

Fish for lunch at Inle Lake.

We also had the opportunity to check out how the people of Myanmar make that delicious Shan tofu I raved about in this earlier post about Burmese food.

Making Burmese yellow tofu, the old-school way.

This family business is pretty productive, as you can see. Just looking at all that scrumptious yellow tofu makes me hungry.

Delicious, delicious Shan tofu.

We also had a pleasant day cycling around Nyaung Shwe. Or, rather, Simon cycled, while I sat at the back. It was a rather rickety bicycle, so it wasn't easy for the poor guy, but eventually we got to this cute little restaurant in a village, which had a dragonfruit farm as well as lovely mountain views.

Bamboo Hut restaurant in War Daw village.

To wrap up this Myanmar series, I have to say - I find that many of the popular cafes and restaurants catering to tourists in this country have fabulous fruit smoothies. We had smoothies almost every day, and they were a wonderful antidote to the hot weather. Definitely something to check out, along with all the other things that I've written about.

A refreshing mango smoothie at Thanakha Garden restaurant in Nyaung Shwe.

In conclusion, if you've ever thought about visiting Myanmar - do it! We thoroughly enjoyed our time here. As I've mentioned in the previous post, this country is changing fast, and the guidebooks can barely keep up. But hopefully, it will continue to treasure its glorious traditions while also embracing modernity.


  1. I love how you capture the simplicity of these lovely places :)


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