Last week we took an incredible three day, two night trek through the villages surrounding Kalaw, Myanmar (Burma). Our young guide, Maung Soe, first brought us his home village of Ywabu where we slept at his great-aunt's house. The meals were large and divine, and the hosts were most kind. The second day we ate lunch at his uncle's, slept at his grandfather's, and again ate like royalty. The third day we passed by a Buddhist cave, so large that our curiosity of Pindaya was satiated. Most impressively, during the course of our trek we passed through Paluag and Danu villages, and we experienced genuine local interactions far away from the tourist circuit (we only saw two other foreigners on the second and third days). If you are interested in seeing photos from the trip, we should have a few posted in a week or two on our website (kosydar.weebly.com) under the Myanmar section.
During the journey we came to know Maung Soe, and we gained a great appreciation for his sacrifices. The handsome Maung Soe is the oldest of three sons aged 19, 17 and 15. Our young guide had studied engineering at Taunggyi University and had completed his first year, but the tuition was too great (700,000 kyat per year) for him to continue his studies this year. Given the poverty of his family and the opportunities available, the two oldest brothers decided to become tour guides in the hopes of saving enough money to send their youngest brother to university.
If you are interested in taking a guide in the Kalaw area, Maung Soe and his brother (Maung Chit Moe) can lead through the villages or take you straight to Inle Lake. Their best attributes as guides is the simple fact that they come from the village that many tourists frequent (Ywabu), whereas many of the guides arranged in Kalaw have limited local knowledge and may not speak the native languages.
You can reach each these young gentlemen by calling their uncle and arranging a tour. Their uncle speaks both English and German and can be reached at the following:
*U Than Htun*
*09 4580 41528*
If you can not reach their uncle U Than Htun, you can contact the young men through Jo Jo at the Golden Kalaw Inn. However, be aware that if you use one of the guesthouses, such as the Golden Kalaw, a commission will be added into the price (usually around 10% or 15%).