KALAW, MYANMAR, MT. BIKE VILLAGE TOUR

There is a trekking route from Kalaw to Inle Lake, 2 & 3 day trips where you stay overnight in different villages. I overheard some travelers talking about Kalaw and how nice it was. I thought I would go to Kalaw and do a 1 day trek around the villages that are in the mountain pine forest. I was talking with Alex of GREEN DISCOVERY TREKKING.. As we discussed a 1 day trek, the map had bicycle ride written all over it. Alex called Joe and we agreed to a one day tour of local villages. He agreed to let me ride his brand new Bianchi Mt. bike with hydrolic brakes!
But before we head out the “BIG” weekly market is today, too. I’ve seen many farmers markets, but I’m here, so I go.

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THE MARKET WAS BEAUTIFUL

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THE FISH WAS VERY FRESH
I tried to get a photo of the Chili Lady

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AFTER 3 ATTEMPTS, SHE WASN’T GOING TO LET ME TAKE HER PHOTO
The avocados were in season and they were the biggest avocados I’d ever seen. I tried to get this vendor to finally look up

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SHE’S WEARING TRADITIONAL SUNSCREEN CALLED THANAKA
Just one more photo of the maket

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I CAN’T BELIEVE HOW LUCKY I AM TO EXPERIENCE THIS WEEKLY MARKET
I head to our starting location

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AND THERE’S JOE, “READY TO GO”
He decides to take us on the longer loop first. He reminds me several times I’m the oldest person he’s ever taken on a bike tour. Joe spoke great English and knew a lot of local history. We passed a military base that was created after the village was “resettled” across the valley.”Military” priorities come first, like the private golf course for the generals. Joe’s dad was a military pilot and has nothing but disdain for the current situation.
We finally leave the “city” and

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START CLIMBING THE DIRT ROAD
As we climb he views are somewhat worrisome

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THE DE-FORESTATION IS HEARTBREAKING (more on this later)
We reach the “view point” only to find

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PEPSI OR COKE? (there’s no escape)
I have the Myanmar “POP SODA” which is plain carbonated water. It is a Nepalese couple that operates the view rest area.

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I HAVE A POTATO & SQUASH MIX WITH FLAT BREAD

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IT’S A SPECIAL PLACE HERE WHERE YOU ARE ABLE TO RENT A ROOM
We arrive at our first village, the HIN KHAR GONE tribe.

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JUST YOUR AVERAGE MOUNTAIN TOP VILLAGE
It’s the dry season, so there isn’t much agricultural work going on.

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SO SEVERAL DIFFERENT GROUPS OF WOMEN ARE MAKING BROOMS, TO FILL THE DAY
My tour guide, Joe, visits these villages, by bike about once a week. So when the local kids see him, they come running.

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THE LOCAL KIDS LOVE TO GET A “FREE” RIDE THROUGH TOWN
We keep riding and I spot some firewood gathering women (and girls). I tell Joe I want a photo. He asks and the older women, she claims “I’m not pretty.” We convince her the photo would be awesome and fun.

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I SMACK A COUPLE BIG KISSES ON HER AND TELL HER HOW BEAUTIFUL SHE IS
The other girls took notice and finally agreed to have their pictures taken too.

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THERE WAS A 3RD GIRL (maybe 8 or 9 years old?) WHO STILL REFUSED TO HAVE HER PICTURE TAKEN

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I DID GET A PHOTO OF THEM, ALL WALKING AWAY
We are way out here, but never to far from opportunity

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THERE’S A SMALL “SNACK STORE” IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE ( I bought a Lychee drink)
When ever we stopped at a village, the locals would gather around the bikes.

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THEY WOUULD TOUCH THE DERAILER AND OTHER PARTS, THEY WERE INFATUATED WITH THE BIKES.
Joe is only able to do the bike tours during the dry season. The dirt road is a fine dust, which must make for some pretty thick mud, when it rains.

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THEY’RE GETTING READY TO “PAVE” THE ROAD, WITH ROCK. It makes for the world bumpiest roads

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DRY SEASON AGRICULTURE
We come into town to rest a little and eat something. Were sitting in front of the train station. These 2 people load this cart up

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IT’S AMAZING WHAT YOU CAN DO, WHEN YOU HAVE TO.
We pass through the market to do the second half of the tour. I’ve seen these “tree” branches at different markets and couldn’t figure out what it was for? Joe was full of great information, he explains,

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THIS IS WHAT THE NATURAL SUNSCREEN, THANAKA IS MADE FROM
We have to ride the main road for 4km to get to our tour loop road. The diesel fumes from the cars and trucks is over whelming.

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WE FINALLY GET TO THE TURN-OFF, WHEW!
It’s the dry season and this years rice crop is done and harvested. I usually see the water buffalo eating the left over rice stems.

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BUT HERE THEY HAVE PLANTED CABBAGE, (they’re hard to see but all the fields have small cabbage plants in them)

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THE “ROAD” IS A PRETTY AWESOME MT. BIKE TRAIL
I really respect cultures that grow their food in a “sustainable” way (using as little oil as possible).

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I’VE SEEN ALL THE ORANGES AT THE MARKETS AND NOW I’VE SEEN WHERE THEIR GROWN!
We have to climb using the highway, back to town.

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5 OF THESE TRUCKS PASSED US, SPEWING BLACK SMOKE
We’re back in town and I’m whipped (remember oldest guy?).

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JOE WAS AN AWESOME GUIDE, THIS IS PROBABLY THE BEST ADVENTURE I HAD IN MYANMAR
Joe’s wife came and picked him up, he was whipped too!

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CUTE BIKE HAULING TRUCK
We rode 45 kms. I moved hotel rooms so I could take a hot (warm) shower

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I WAS COVERED IN DIRT AND SO WAS THE BIKE (it’s going to take awhile to clean the bike too)
THANKS FOR READING AND “COMMENTING”
JEFF
MYANMAR PHOTOS
“THEY CLAIM THE U.S. AND CHINA ARE THE WORLD’S LEADING SOURCE OF CO2 POLLUTION (CLIMATE CHANGE GASES). LET ME JUST SAY, THE DEFORESTATION AND BURNING OF GARBAGE IN 3RD WORLD COUNTRIES SHOULDN’T BE IGNORED, IT’S HUGE HERE.

NEXT? BAGAN AND VIEWS FROM THE BUS

I’M IN A BUDDHIST COUNTRY, SO I THOUGHT THIS WAS APPROPRIATE

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2 thoughts on “KALAW, MYANMAR, MT. BIKE VILLAGE TOUR

  1. rachel berrington

    What a great day. I also love visiting the markets. The big trip looked epic. You got some really good photos with the locals. Thanks for the update – it was a lot of fun to read.

    Reply

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