Myanmar: trekking to discover the tribes

The trek started in Kalaw and ended in Inle lake. It was amazing. Maybe one of my favorite experience of that trip so far! We were extremely lucky. Our guide was fluent in English and local dialects, she was kind, smart, very open and eager to answer all of our questions. The group was composed of three other very nice and interesting people. We met so many genuinely nice people, saw some stunning landscapes and tasted awesome food! We decided on purpose to do the shorter hike as it was less trekked and allowed more time to share with the locals.

We stopped in 5 villages. One different for lunch and for diner and to sleep every day. People in this area live very modestly, they don’t have much, an humble house, maybe some animals… That’s it. As always in Myanmar, people had beautiful smile and were ready to share everything with us. Their time, their tea, their house… It looks like western societies completely lost that connection. This trek kinda moved me. I don’t really want to talk about all of it on a blog 🙂 Life looks a lot like in Laos, much more than in the rest of the country. We learned that the Shan State was not always part of “Burma” and was still fighting it until only 20 years ago. People living here don’t necessarily consider themselves close to fellow Myanmar people from other states, their culture is different. Burmese actually only refer to the Barma ethnic group, when there are many in the country. This is why Myanmar is a more appropriate name than Burma, it is more inclusive of everyone and every community.

There’s not much to say then, but what a journey!

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Silvere and Warren watching over the beautiful mountains of Kalaw the day before the trek.

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In SE Asia, most cows are very skinny and have a hump on their back.

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He called Silvere Yul Brynner (apparently the only bald non monk guy famous in the country).

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That old woman was so nice and had a beautiful smile. She, her husband and their friend who was there when we arrived were very funny, they kept making jokes and laugh. She said that I had to show her picture to my grandmother back home and tell her that this my grandmother from Myanmar. She asked me to come back. Her granddaughter was very cheeky and they seemed to have a lot of fun together. 

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Silvere and Ho Chang learning about coffee making.

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He could speak English, which was very unexpected! He kept laughing and saying “ohlala” while throwing his arms in the air. When we left, he said Silvere should become a monk and live in the town’s monastery and I should stay with them!

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Chili is cultivated everywhere in this area.

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Drying chili

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Morning light on our second day.

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When I decided to go back to the home we were staying at after my early morning walk, I noticed the monks were given the alms in front of me, all the way up the village and past our house. This means that  I was lucky enough to witness an authentic custom for quite a while. People giving food were all smiling, it was less formal but so much more inspiring than in Luang Prabang!

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At the market, people picking betel leaves.

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July, our guide. She helped us understand the country so much! We had all those unanswered questions that people did not or could not answer… She talked about everything we asked. She knew all the plants and was kind to everyone we saw. She even made us try betel and bought us food everywhere so we could sample all the local snacks. If we loved Myanmar so much, it’s partly thanks to her.

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We were having lunch at that woman’s house. When we were done, she said it was nap time, and she started to work on her corn. July went to help her, then Silvere and I did. She kept asking us to have tea but we stayed anyway, she was worried we would feel pain in our thumbs from removing the corn. When we left, she said if I ever wanted to come back I could sleep in her house, she had a blanket for me and only her son and herself live there. She also really liked the beautiful white skin of our team mate Lauren!

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4 thoughts on “Myanmar: trekking to discover the tribes

    • Oh my, you’re gonna have a blast! Our guide was amazing, if you want to contact her (she’s called July), either try july.myanmar@gmail.com or Sam’s restaurant in Kalaw where they also organize treks. If you want to spend time with the locals, definitely ask for the “short” itinerary, otherwise go for the longer one. If it’s your first visit to Myanmar, try all the food except bamboo shoot! It’s sitting in dirty water on markets and is served raw. Also, try, and bring tanaka home, it’s terrific for the skin!

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      • Ok thanks for the details. I’ll reach out. Did she organise the entire trip or just the trekking part? What sort of accommodation did you stay at and what were they like?

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      • She was a guide working for Sam’s restaurant. But from what I understand, the guide takes you to places he/she knows, to meet people they like, decide if a cook is necessary or not etc… She made sure our trek was as great as it could be. We stayed at people’s houses which were quite basic (no shower) but yet comfy. We had a cook the whole time and the food was wonderful!
        It is clearly not a 5 stars hotel experience but believe me it’s worth it, you will be able to immerse with the locals and share their everyday life for a moment, whether it is lunch or a night.

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