1st Oct 2016
Palm sugar, Kalaw and Inle lake
Hot air balloon ride, so we were up at 4.30am and ready to go…. except it was raining. Hard. We were supposed to be collected at 4.40pm, and eventually the transport guys rolled up in the minibus at 5.00am to announce that the rides weren’t going ahead today, and we were all presented a voucher.
As a result we had an early breakfast and managed to leave Bagan an hour earlier than originally planned. We stopped at a palm sugar plantation, and watch a demonstration showing how the local people collect the palm tree sap. The most entertaining part about it was the quick prayer he said before heading up the tree with his pots attached to his waist. It was a very good demonstration, and once collected they showed how the process the sugar to make a drink, and also how they ferment it for a stronger version.
We continued up towards Kalaw, the original overnight stop for this trip except I had missed it out in order to give passengers a chance to do the hot air ballon ride. We were lucky with the traffic and we had a good run, stopping for lunch in a small local town where there was a reasonable restaurant, although it was too hot for a big meal so Euan and I tracked down a stall selling samosas in order to have a lighter lunch.
We arrived in Kalaw at 3.00pm which was much better on time than I had hoped. We had another couple of hours drive to reach Inle Lake, but as we were meant to do an overnight stop in Kalaw we gave everyone a break for an hour so they could look around the town and the market, and head up to visit the monastery where we used to bush camp until the built on the site! There were lovely views across the town though. Euan and I managed to grab a quick cup of coffee, and with one eye on the weather we headed back to the truck as there was a big thunderstorm heading straight for us. We unlocked the doors just as it started to rain, and waited for our passengers to join us. There is nothing quite like heavy rain for making sure people get back on time! In fairness though, this group has been very good with their time keeping.
We continued on to Inle Lake, heading through some stunning scenery. The whole day had beautiful driving, and it just kept getting better. Of course, we passed through some areas about half an hour before Inle Lake which would have been fantastic bush camping, but there is little point when we need to be at Inle Lake for an early boat ride. Just in the wrong place! We arrived at Inle Lake at 6pm and in daylight which was perfect timing!
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