Shiver me timbers...

Trip Start Jan 02, 2013
Trip End Apr 25, 2013

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Where I stayed
eastern paradise

Flag of Myanmar  ,
Wednesday, January 9, 2013

So perhaps leaving home with only 7.5kg of luggage was unrealistic. We move to Kalaw high up in the mountains and so begins the domestic duty of clothes washing in the sink, or any available receptacle as there seems to be a shortage of plugs in Myanmar. We stay in room 007 which is more damp and cold than hot and steamy. There's mildew on the walls and astroturf carpet.

There are lots of stray dogs in this country but they are all well fed, well behaved and tame. I think it's due to the Buddhist beliefs here. The dogs don't steal, they just politely sit and wait to be fed. It is interesting to see how the variety of beast changes as we move through the country. For example Yangon canines are thin, mangey and middle sized, generally one colour. Those up here in Kalaw are huge with what might be an element of husky in them. They are more fluffy and quite dark in colour. Still wouldn't cuddle one though.

After arranging our planned trek we climb the stairs to the monastery and wave to the novice monks who peer out of the first floor window of the teak building giggling and bashfully waving. The monastery complex is beautifully relaxing with dogs padding around and slyly clearing up all the food offerings left under shrines, cats trotting along after the monks and a huge colony of jackdaws. Many Buddhist men do two stints as a monk in their lifetime. One spell between the age of 10-20y and one later in life. It is auspicious for a family to send a child to the monastery for teaching, probably reduces the loud music and stroppy sulks too.

We also take the time to wander around the local market which swells once a week with tribes descending from the mountains to sell their wares. We have to stoop and duck to avoid being lynched on the tent roof ropes tied at midget height. There are so many fruits, vegetables and spices that we're never seen before and of course the stinking dried fish that is so popular as the basis of many Burmese dishes. I also take the chance to buy a longhi, the traditional woven sarong like skirt worn by almost every woman we see. It's tied/folded in a specific way which I cannot muster, it just keeps falling down!

Supper costs about a pound and we end the night in a local bar the size of a broom cupboard. A spit and sawdust sort of place, just without the sawdust. The temperature drops from a pleasant daytime high of approximately 30c to 2c overnight and the washing doesn't dry.
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