Kalow: Socks, cold and dodgy Sikh salesmen

The bus pulls in at 4am. Minimal, if any sleep. Its freezing cold outside. Guy is hanging and coughing his guts up. This dude is waiting outside of the bus for us.


Legend. He leads us down the road to Lilly’s Guest House. My attire of shorts and flip flops seems ridiculous at what feels like minus 20C. Kalow is 1320m above sea level so at night, the temperature drops. Significantly. Golden Lily’s Guest House offers pretty clean accommodation, probably the nicest and cheapest we’ve had the pleasure to sleep in so far. Result. The forever coughing Guy was strategically placed in with Isabel. Happy. Excited at the prospect of a three day trek. Tired. I slept at last.

Egg and chippati. Breakfast with an Indian twist. The owners are Sikh, three generations have grown up in Kalow but descended from Punjab, India. I showed one of the four brothers my Golden Temple head piece. He wasn’t impressed. I realised that they would all love to do the pilgrimage, a lifetime dream, but strict and expensive rules on passport applications has restricted their dreams to just that. Tact Michael. I must learn to hold my mouth sometimes.
A run and a freezing cold shower was followed by a very serious sales pitch by one of the brothers. He also mentioned that all the other trekking agents had military ties and that if we went with them, then we would be sponsoring the Government. Strange claim. Strange guy.
I took to wandering the streets of this sleepy little town. The market sold some interesting items, most notably a selection of traditional Shan knives, slash swords. Street food was good and there were also a varied selection of pagodas. Standard Myanmar protocol. Some houses had a distinctly British influence while others reminded me of the Wild West in America and summer villas straight out of the Mediterranean. The streets were extremely quiet, almost ghost like.
I walked up a hill, through a village and into a monastery overlooking the entire town. The sun was happy today. I sat and meditated. In a vain attempt to impress the staring monks I read some of the Dalia Lama’s ‘Art of Happiness’. How topically appropriate of me. I felt good.
I found a weird box by the toilet.
A Shan noodle dinner and a Myanmar beer sent us to bed early, ready for our three day hike. Excited and needing the exercise to feed my habit, I slept well until the usual 5am prayers woke me. It’s time to trek baby. Yeah.

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