We had booked our two day/one night trek at a hotel cum tour operator the day before and arrived on time at 8:30 to meet our guide and the two people that were supposed to join us. After a while a pick-up pulled up with two Spanish looking girls inside and we were told to hop on, while a young girl would accompany us to the start of our tour, where we would meet our guide.

The most popular tour from Kalaw to Inle Lake takes three days and two nights. As we only wanted to do the two day trek, we had to be taken a few kilometers to where we would start our part of the tour. During the one hour bumpy ride we got into conversations with the girls and learned that they were not Spanish but Dutch sisters, so we were no longer sure if they were the two people joining us on the trek. The young girl accompanying us didn’t say much during the drive and we weren’t quite sure if she could actually speak English.

When we arrived, we were introduced to our guide and were told we would join a group of eight other trekkers that had started the tour the day before already. This was not what we had agreed on when signing up for the tour. We had deliberately decided against a large group that had started the day before with another tour guide company, despite the fact that we had to pay more with this operator and now we were facing the same story. We were VERY annoyed!…and we let the tour guide know. While we were letting steam off Arma, one of the Dutch girls, approached us and offered us to join their group. Normally they liked doing tours on their own and they had paid extra to be alone, but they took pity on us and actually said we didn’t seem like that bad travel companions. 😉 We accepted right away and also the tour guides assured us the change of plan would pose no problem. To celebrate, we all had a coffee and some Chinese doughnuts together. 😀

Breakfast Trekking to Inle Lake 3

Breakfast Trekking to Inle Lake

Breakfast Trekking to Inle Lake 2

After that we had a look at the market of the town we were in (I have no idea what it was called) while the young girl explained a few items that were on sale to us. At some point I asked the ladies when their guide was coming and I learned from Loura, the second sister, that Cindy, the colorfully dressed young girl was the guide. 😯

Market day Trekking to Inle Lake 3

Market day Trekking to Inle Lake

Market day Trekking to Inle Lake 2

Shan people Myanmar

Our guide Trekking Inle Lake

The trek took us along fields, over dirt paths, grassy hills and red chilli crops. We passed many people from local tribes along the way and were greeted joyfully by them. The walk as such was not much more tiring than a promenade, as there was hardly any acclivity. BUT our travel companions were extremely fit and had a pace that we tried to match to keep up with them. They sure made us sweat! 🙂

Trekking to Inle Lake

Shan people Myanmar

Shan people Myanmar

Shortly after we started walking, Cindy offered us some Thanaka to try out and V was curious enough to give it a shot. As the sun was beating down and she didn’t trust the sun protection capacities of the paste enough, she removed it as soon as the possibility arose and put on proper sun screen. Sure is sure!


We made a lunch break at a monastery where we were served noodles and soup and had some time to relax in the sun.

monastery myanmar

monk next to pagoda

Lunch Monastery Trekking Inle Lake

After the afternoon part of the trek we arrived in a small village of the Pa-O tribe. There were a few wooden and mostly bamboo huts with animals and children running around and grown-ups in traditional clothing preparing the evening fire.

Pa-O hut Myanmar

Pa-O child Myanmar

Pa-O village Myanmar

Heated from the sun and the trek, V and I decided we needed a shower. Having had several bucket showers in Africa already, we were not afraid of standing in the shed-like shower or of the cold water. Unfortunately I had a bit of trouble with the bamboo “door”. When it fell open onto the ground and I had to climb out buck naked to pick it up to place it in front of the empty door frame again, I was sure the whole village had seen and had had a good laugh. 🙁

Our accommodation was a room on the second floor of a private bamboo house. There were four matresses and some thick blankets plus a small, low table in our room. In the other room of the house a fire was burning, where our dinner was being prepared by the owners. It was nice mingling with the friendly locals and being able to get a bit closer to them despite the language barrier.

Bamboo house village Trekking

Pa-O hut inside

Family Trekking Inle Lake

Pa-O woman Myanmar

Before dinner we sat at the so-called bar: two benches and a table in front of the hut with a bucket of beer bottles. Let’s just say the Dutch and the Germans proved to be beer loving countries and we had a fun evening together. I am still wondering though why little Cindy asked us the next morning if we were dizzy when she heard how many bottles of the 8 percent Dagon beer we had emptied. 😎

We had our very tasty dinner in the same room that we slept in afterwards. Despite the thick blankets that had been provided, we all slept in jackets as it was freezing cold at night in the mountains. V and I both didn’t sleep very well on account of that. We had our breakfast in our “bedroom” next to the room with the fire place, wrapped in the big blankets unwilling to give them up just yet.

Candle light dinner village

Breakfast village Trekking

The second day of our trek started with a bit of fog still over the hills. At the beginning we had a short piece of uphill hike. We passed beautiful, huge trees and learned that according to Myanmar belief it is not allowed to climb Banyan or Bodhi trees. The people here believe in nats, spirits of humans that suffered a violent death, even though this is in fact forbidden following the Buddhist religion. There are good nats and bad nats and you don’t want to make the nats angry by climbing prohibited trees.

fog at trek Myanmar


Shan farmer Myanmar

Shan tribe Myanmar

Banyan Tree

We found out that our young guide with the comical style was 18 and had been in the tour business for a mere two months. Her youth and lack of experience was especially visible when she tried to crack the weirdest jokes with us at the most unfitting moments. All four of us would look at each other in bewilderment and then laugh to be polite. The poor thing being half a head shorter than V really suffered trying to keep up with her clients.

The end of our trek went downhill until we reached the little village of In Dein where we had lunch. After our break we had to pay 10$ each (!!!) area entry fee and then took a boat down a canal and onto Inle Lake. We crossed the lake and got to Nyaung Shwe after about an hour. Having had so much fun with Arma and Loura, we made plans to meet up for dinner that evening and spent another night full of laughter. What a great and unexpected encounter!

Pagoda field Myanmar

Embarking In Dein Inle Lake

boating Inle Lake

Boat trip Inle Lake 2

Boat trip Inle Lake 4

birds flying

Inle Lake

Nyaung Shwe Inle Lake

The next day we booked a half day tour on the lake with a boat man. We got to witness the famous leg-rowing fishermen in action and were a bit disappointed how even that is being commercialised: when getting too close to a fisherman, he would lift up one of the fish he had caught and pose with it asking for money. After that we made sure not to get that close anymore.

Inle Lake

Inle Lake Boat trip

Inle Lake Houses on stilts

Inle Lake

Inle lake fishermen

Inle lake fishermen

We passed floating gardens, pretty houses on stilts, had a nice lunch break at a restaurant in the lake, visited a silversmith (where I ended up buying something despite my resolution not to purchase anything) and made a stop at a market and a monastery, all built in the lake.

floating gardens inle lake

houses on stilts inle lake

Rafting restaurant Inle Lake

In the evening we met our Dutch friends again to take a pick-up taxi up a nearby hill to visit a winery for a sunset dinner and wine tasting. Once we arrived at Red Mountain Estate, we realized they were going to close at 6 pm, right after sunset. We therefore decided to just have some snacks with our wine tasting and have dinner back in town. After the wine tasting, we thought we could definitely fit in a bottle of wine before heading down again.  😀

Red Mountain Estate vine tasting

sunset Red Mountain Estate Myanmar

And believe it or not the Myanmar Shiraz really was very tasty!