Kalaw is a pretty little town that almost seems alpine, with its high mountains, pine groves and crisp air. Its charm as a retreat for the British over 100 years ago still exists, with its crumbling villas, government buildings, and shop houses. Even the Tudor style train station along with its narrow gauge rail line remains, serving the area’s diverse and friendly community of hilltribe people, Intha, and Nepalese. The latter are descendants of those who originally came to build the railroad for the British.
Above Kalaw’s verdant valley is a hilltop monastery with an incredible view, which we visited on our first day.
We came to Kalaw expressly to do a trek with Alex, someone an online friend recommended. She and her family took their 3 year old to Burma the year before and really enjoyed their time with him. Indeed, he was great. We have had a couple guides in each country we have been to so far (Vietnam, Myanmar and Thailand), and Chris and I both agree that Alex was the best. Not only are we looking for a good experience, but also someone easy to talk to, understand and connect with. Alex was professional but also personable, his English was fantastic, and as a father of young children himself, we saw eye to eye. Before our actual trek, we visited the morning market, which was yet another breathtaking display of interesting people and gorgeous goods.
Following the market, we had a delicious lunch at his home. There we got meet his sweet wife, darling son, Wilson, and baby (whose nickname is Snow White) and his friendly brother. He collects and sells chicken dung, which the farmers use as fertilizer.
Knowing Merle loves trains, part of our journey involved a short train ride along the narrow gauge line through the charming yet wild countryside outside of Kalaw. We had to wait a while since the decrepit, extremely primitive Myanmar Railways is usually late. The train station and folks lingering there were fascinating, making the wait more bearable. We also invited Wilson to come along, so the kids had another new friend to play with.
After that it was not too long of a walk to the tiny Danu village where we spent the night.
Though it rained a fair amount throughout our Kalaw trek, Alex did the best he could, we experienced yet another household so generous yet with so little, and our time there will stand out as one of our most favorite Myanmar memories.