Meet Nanda. At 19 years old, she is a real inspiration. The first person in her village to go to university. She studies Geography. She is fluent in English, Burmese and her local villages language as well as being able to speak a little French. It took her only 6 months to become fluent in English. She has been a tour guide for the treks for 2 years. Nanda plans to be a guide for a further 2 and then she has dreams of becoming a fashion designer and redesigning her people’s local costume as well as building and running a dormitory for the high school students to stay in as they cannot afford to commute. This girl is going places.
This is a Banyan Tree, sacred to Buddhists. It is said that after attaining enlightenment, Lord Buddha sat under a Banyan tree for seven days, absorbed in his new-found realization.
We saw a number of the great Banyan trees on our trek from Kalaw to Inle. Some the local people had placed supporting sticks under the branches, each representative of a sick person who needs help from the tree spirits to get better.
Gooseberries. I never liked them when I was younger. My dad used to make a gooseberry pie which made my eyes squint up involuntarily but I am a great believer that your tastebuds change as you get older (although, I keep trying olives once every year or so… still hate the little blighters. Someone told me once that if you eat 100 olives then you will like them. My question is, why would I want to put myself through that 100 times?) So I tried the gooseberry. Still hate them 😷
This crazy looking berry makes your mouth go tingly and numb! It is broken down and used to make natural tiger balm and also used in some foods.
This super friendly man couldn’t speak a word of English but welcomed us into his home with open arms for a lunch around a little table in his elevated bamboo house. We ate a dinner of ginger soup, vegetable fried noodles, tomato and cucumber salad and potato crackers with mango and dragon fruit for dessert all washed down with traditional Burmese tea.
This is “Grandmother”. She is the lady who we stayed with at our home stay. In Myanmar, the women go out and tend to the fields, grow crops and look after livestock. The men stay at home and weave baskets and cook the meals.
Not in Grandmother and Grandfather’s house… Grandmother wears the trousers in this relationship. They are a family of status within the village and grandmother does the important jobs around the house as well as making all of the important decisions whilst grandfather goes out and works in the mountain rice fields.
When I asked to take a picture, grandmother agreed but was worried about her dirty clothes. “No”, I told her, “you are beautiful and it is real”.
And she is. She’s a stunner now, imagine what she was like in her youth.
If you do one thing in Myanmar, make it the trek from Kalaw to Inle Lake. .
Breathtaking scenery, delicious, fresh, Burmese food and the most wonderful locals making my happiness levels explode.