Day 4 – Kalaw, Myanmar

If clients aren’t time starved Myanmar’s diversity presents limitless options. The best way I can describe Myanmar is a collection of micro-destinations, all with their own unique appeal, all within easy access of each other through a great network of domestic airports. I’ll talk about my final insights on how to build a rock-star itinerary later, but for now let’s talk about Kalaw.

For return clients and those with an extra one or two nights to play with, Kalaw is a fabulous place to sandwich between Bagan and Inle Lake. 60 mins from Inye Lake’s gateway Airport, Heho, where we arrived today from Bagan.

Why go? Crisp mountain air at 1,300ft+ above sea level – quite the antidote to humid Yangon! Fabulous scenery for hiking (or apres hiking with a glass or two…), and fabulous Brtish colonial history. Kalaw hits you with a feeling of PURE unadulterated relaxation washing over you. So first up the scenery is GORGEOUS…

The perspective of the Kalaw hills lend to a mesmerising feeling, a total 180 from the expansive temple-laden plains of Bagan. We had only a day to tour Kalaw but I immediately wanted to check-in and stay.

The first accommodation we saw was my favorite of the day. The above pictures were taken at Kalaw Hill Lodge, a new property only only 14 months old occupying this killer location overlooking the hills where Diethelm always books the upper level rooms for the view. For an active hiker like myself this was heaven. Clients like me who want to put on a pair of runners and sweat it out whilst taking pictures of amazing scenery, this is the place.

The other thing that hits you between the eyes here is the pride of the people of Shan state, this the most eastern and largest state of Myanmar. Our amazing guide Ms. Ni Lwin was overflowing with pride to welc0me myself and Ms. Yu Yu to Shan State.

Tigers once roamed the lands of Shan State up until around 50 years ago. The traditional dress of the lady (above) who welcomed us to Kalaw Hill Lodge symbolizes the affinity the locals still hold for the tiger. Notice the turban she wears resembles the tiger ears. For men they wear pants with a silver belt which resembles the tiger’s tail. Then there’s the gardens in Kalaw. Fertile land in the region lends to scenes like this, amazing gardens found in every corner of Kalaw.

British colonial history is prevalent everywhere here too. Burma as it was known has a deep history of colonial occupation with the British and Kalaw exemplifies the best of British influence and infrastructure left behind, still used and still appreciated, such as Kalaw Railway station seen below. The houses (many now small charming guest lodges) and the railway station are a throwback to the bygone glory of the British Empire.

I’m no history buff, but just to breathe in the history is fascinating. I have a million questions about the history of Myanmar after visiting Kalaw and it’s colonial connection. I can guarantee clients will feel the same. How you feel when you leave? Re-invigorated. Kalaw is where you come back one day to relax, breathe in life and write your memoirs on a chaise lounge in one of the fabulous gardens!

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