the hills

trekking in 95 degree weather? 1002 stupid things to do.

a couple days ago i arrived in Kalaw, a small town up in the hills of shan state. the town has very few people, long wide streets, and is really chill. people here play their guitars and sing everynight, which definitely adds to the atmosphere when you’re awake but is a bit frustrating when all you want to do is sleep. there’s really not that much to do in town though, and it’s main draw is that you can go trekking in the hills around it and see the various hill tribes that live nearby.

i had a trekking guide recommended to me, so when i got to town i signed up for a 2 day trekk. it kinda sucked that i was gonna do the trekk alone w/ just the guide, but then luckily i met this french girl, sophie, from london who decided to join up w/ me. the following day we left around 8am, bringing just a few necessities and a little water.

our guide ended up being really good. this guy knew *everything*. he told us all sorts of things about the various hill tribes that live in the region, the different types of trees and flowers, the history, how different types of crops are harvested etc etc. the amount of information this guy had was never ending! the walk itself was really interesting. we walked past huge rice terraces w/ farmers harvesting them. we walked through small villages and watched old women sort tea leaves and process them. we wandered by groups of people hauling huge bags of vegetables precariously balanced on their heads.

there was lots of beautiful scenery and great landscapes, but the most interesting thing of course was the people. alot of these tribes live in “long houses” which is exactly what you’d think it would be.. a house that is extremely long. usually around 7 or 8 families (like 50 people) would live in one of these houses. the house doesn’t have any rooms or divisions of any kind, it’s basically just one extra long room, so privacy is nonexistant. it was really interesting to wander around and see how everyone lives there.

the people out in the hills were incredibly friendly. as we walked by, everyone would wave to us and yell “hello”. little kids would always come running out to greet us and look at us with curiousity. we were out far from town, so a lot of these people didnt speak any english at all, but it was still fun to try to interact w/ them.

the main problem of the trekk though was the heat. it was soooo hot. if i was in town during this weather, i would have just hid in my room w/ the fan on, but here we had no choice, we had to keep walking… uphill. we were constantly sweating like crazy and hiking was absolutely exhausting. initially i had wanted to do a 3 day trekk, but due to lack of time, i had to settle for 2 days. now i was glad that i only had signed up for 2… in fact i was almost wishing i had only signed up for 1 day!

eventually, after hours and hours of hiking, we reached where we would be staying the night. we stayed w/ this incredibly nice family. they made us food which was really good, and their young children even put on a little performance for us w/ singing and dancing.

the next day, we continued the rest of the loop to get back to kalaw. it was a little less hot today so hiking was much easier. there was lots of cool stuff to see that day too. we saw little kids riding water buffalo, we hung out w/ some monks in a monastery, we saw some tiny insects that looked like flowers, we saw garlic and tulips being grown, and some other stuff. we finaly arrived back in town at night completely drained and exhausted. it had been a fun two days, but next time, i doubt i’ll be signing up for any trekks in this kind of weather!!

not flowers.. insects!!


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