Monday, 22 February 2010

Kalaw: "By Any Means"

Dazed and confused, we managed to alight from the train at our destination: Kalaw. The gangway between the benches was still blocked with local women carrying all their wares to market, so Jon lept through the open window and down onto the tracks with all of our luggage. Simon took the more delicate route, trying not to step on school children and politely squeezing past the women as the open doorway became visible.
With both safely down on the ground, what happens next? Arriving in a strange town in an even stranger country can be a daunting experience, even for our travel-wise, experienced heroes. But the intrepid pair quickly realise that they have fallen on their feet once more: there to greet them was a short man, grinning from ear to ear.
“Where you go? I take you. Money no problem…”
Well, who were we to refuse such an offer? And once outside the station hall we behold our next mode of transport. Charlie Boorman, eat your heart out, for we are to travel on a horse and cart! Eventually we started to feel sorry for poor old dobbin: the combined weight of us and the backpacks (a little under 200Kg if you count the hand luggage and water, too) made him really work for his 1,000 Kyat. At the end, Simon thanked the owner. Jon thanked the horse.

Kalaw is surrounded by beautiful scenery, but doesn’t really offer much itself for the weary traveller. Up the hill we went to admire the view from the stupa, and down again we came to Sam’s Family Restaurant. Now this really WAS a family place, since the owner was letting his two charming nieces loose on the customers for the first time today. They were shy, but very polite and they had a huge inquisitiveness to learn English! The vast state of Shan is an untamed corner of Burma, which the government finds difficult to control. Hence the large military presence in the area, and the frustrating disappearance of all the interesting artefacts from the Museum of Shan Chiefs, only to be located in the Civil Defence Museum back in Yangon. But often a region can best define its ethnicity in its cuisine. Jon chose a peanut curry. “Excellent choice!” cried Sam, “A dish from right here.”

1 comment:

  1. An entry without any mention of food. Was this intentional? lol x