Burma Off The Beaten Path Tips by Bonobo2005
Burma Off The Beaten Path: 83 reviews and 113 photos
have a cup of tea, please
Tun Ti spoke the local language perfectly and he translated now and then between us and the local people.
Besides a great sense of humour and curious questions about our personal lives I will never forget what the chief said.
He told us that, when he goes to the market in town, he sometimes notices white people walking around and taking photos. He has always been eager to meet them and speak with them, but at all these occasions it never happened. That's why he feels always very happy to have foreign guests at home and someone to translate.
I suddenly realised how valuable it was to be here....
having tea and smoking big cigars
Sam's policy is to change routes all the time and visit "his" villages with tourists only few times a year
...although I'm pretty sure that the village we were up to (Htito) was visited about every 6-8 weeks. Still it's a kind of low impact tourism that I highly appreciate.
To reach Htito, we walked a very long distance, mostly a bit up and down on the red soil along farmlands and small settlements, where we sometimes stopped for tea or lunch.
Our guide Tun Ti was the son of Sam and had a good reputation everywhere. Because he rarely came here, villagers were really enthousiastic to have him -and us- in their homes. Or was it maybe because of the presents he brought?.
the local doctor at his house
On the trek with Mr. Robin we stayed overnight in the house of a traditional medicine man.
However we were not introduced to the family and we weren't to meet them until we left the next day. I found this particularly strange and less nice.
So we went to explore the almost deserted tiny settlement a bit; a blacksmith at work, men replacing bamboo roofs before the coming raining season and we hiked up a small hill with a very nice pagoda and grand views over the valley.
The next day the medicine man eventually showed up for 15 minutes in which he explained the making of anti malaria medicine, that consisted of no less than 96 (!) different natural ingredients, some of which he had to collect far away or were growing only few days a year. Pretty amazing! Locals around still trust these medicines much more than the modern chemical stuff!
On the way back to Kalaw, we hiked through a nice piece of forest, used our packed lunch at a peaceful lake and followed the rail tracks for a while, a beautiful remote line build by the British. The old train is still running...if there's not a breakdown!
little kid with big shoes
When you organise a hilltribe trekking, make clear what you expect. How long you want to walk, special interest in nature, tribes etc....
I did 2 two overnight treks on which we visited the Paluang, Danu and the Pa-O hilltribes. I used different guides for the treks and both had their own speciality.
The first trek was with Mr. Robin from the Golden Lilly Guesthouse, a very well English speaking and pleasant Indian man who explained a lot about nature, local farming and crafts, but who didn't act as intermediary between local people and us. He brings visitors almost daily to the same house where tourists and the family stay separately.
Mr Tun Ti, from "Sam Family Guide Service", on the contrary was less talkative and informative, but he took us to villages that are visited only 4 or 5 times a year, and where we stayed together with the villagers all of the time. Tun Ti is the son of Sam and people seem to be very happy to see him (and us).
The 2-day trek with Mr. Robin involved about 10 hrs. walking (but with stopping every few minutes to give a lecture) and cost $10 each all inclusive with two persons; with Mr. Tun Ti it took 14 hours of steady hiking to reach the remoter villages and cost $14 each with two persons.
Of course, there are many more guides around that I don't know (yet).
the old monk
Kalaw is a pleasantly cool little town in the hills of Shan State, from where you can organise treks to nearby tribes villages.
Besides the walks, in Kalaw you may like to visit some of the teahouses on the mainstreet. One of them - opposite Sam Guide Service - was very lively and had amazing strawberry shakes.
Also from the mainstreet, you can take a short walk uphill and visit a monastery. Here, an old monk invited visitors in his residence after which he requests a donation and a postcard or photo to be sent from your home country.
He already had hundreds...very funny and friendly man who earns a lot of money...just everybody seem to love him. Hopefully he stays healthy and alive for a long time...
After that session some young monks showed us around. very nice!
Our presence usually attracted a lot of positive attention. You'll not yet encounter begging children or souvenirstands in the villages.
You can see from the children's reactions in what degree they are used to see white people.
In general, the most used to tourists are that children who insolently approach you and ask for money or pen. Then you know a lot of tourists have been here before and maybe even spoilt them with presents.
Much less used to tourists are places where the children act a bit shy and careful, but curious enough to stay around.
Not really used to tourists are those kids who run away as fast as they can as soon as they see you, and only dare to get closer if their parents are there as well.
During the trekking we visited mostly settlements with kids from the 2nd category, and passed others from the last category.
I think to encounter kids from the first category in this region is fortunately still rare and to keep it this way never hand over gifts to children, not even pens. Just make fun with them; let's save Burma from what's happened in Northern Thailand!
Gifts should be given only by the guide to the chief of the village or to a hospitable host.
The old & wise chief and his grand son
We were welcomed by the chief of the village, where we also stayed for the night.
This wise man was in charge of about everything important in the village, including the arrival of guests. He also acted as a judge in case of disputes amongst villagers and gave advise in case of personal problems.
Still, he was leading a very moderate life. He had a bigger than average house to receive guests, but in everything else he was just one of the villagers. During our stay a lot of people came in, some of them bringing gifts such as food, others for a chat or a consult.
We were received as well respected guests and had an absolutely wonderful time with them.
The point: if you are hiking without a guide and you arrive in a village, it's best to ask for the chief first!
visiting tribes families while trekking
Although you can just start walking in the countryside, it would be a a bit odd and you'll probably get lost.
I recommend to take a licensed local guide that not only can tell you many interesting things about the tribes and their area, but also may open doors in the villages.
In Kalaw there are several guides offices, especially along Pyihtaungsu Road (the main street). The thing is however that they might be closed (as I found out) as the guides could be busy trekking already.
If your schedule is tight and you want to make a longer trek, it is not a bad idea to make reservations in advance (f.e. when you arrive in Yangon).
Besides the less appealing day hikes, the most popular treks takes 2 days with an overnight stay with a local family in the countryside.
Popular longer treks take you to Inle Lake, to Pindaya (for the famous caves) or to an elephant nursery. These are typically 3 days/2 nights using public transport one way.
Phone: (0095) -81-50237 =sam guides
fascinating local customs
When we arrived at a junction just before the village of Htito, we encountered a woman selling alcohol.
It appeared that alcohol consumption is forbidden in the village, so people drink outside! Once a week, village women bring big cans of local brew from the market and for a small fee, you can buy a cup.
It was a quite hilarious experience to meet the drunk and singing women, who actually persuaded us to have a drink with them.
In the meantime the men just returned from the field, with ox carts and heavy loads.
Emancipation has come quite fast here!!
traditional farming methods
Mr. Robin explained a lot about local farming methods and the use of nature for medicines and daily life.
In this fertile area around Kalaw, people grow different types of rice, garlic, ginger, lentils, pineapple, lemons, papaya, banana, dozens of spices, even more types of berries and many other exotic stuff, still using traditional farming methods.
They produce much more than they need, so once a week they make their way to the regional markets to sell products and buy the things they cannot grow.
On our way we had tea in a village with a very old and friendly couple. Mr. Robin showed us around and explained the multi purpose use of bamboo, which is pretty amazing indeed. Almost everything you see in the villages, is hand-made from what nature has to offer!
More Reviews (24)
Bonobo2005's Related Pages
Burma Travel Guide
Member Travel Pages
- "The land of the 1.000.000 pagoda's."
- "Burma - Myanmar Land of amazing sights!"
- "Babushka Burma"
- "11 days in the Golden Land!"
- "Burma Page"
- "Brilliant Burma"
- See All...
- Things to Do in Burma
- Hotels in Burma
- Transportation in Burma
- Nightlife in Burma
- Restaurants in Burma
- Shopping in Burma
- Warnings and Dangers in Burma
- See All...
Explore the World
- Duneland Beach Hotels
- Port Chester
- Ofuna Hotels
- San Miguel de Allende
- Schwanenwerder Hotels
- Cape Hatteras State Park Hotels
- Massachusetts Off The Beaten Path
- Cajun Country
- Pensacola Off The Beaten Path
- Fort Myers Beach Off The Beaten Path
- Bellagio Off The Beaten Path
- Banjul Off The Beaten Path
- Plymouth Off The Beaten Path
- Marmaris Off The Beaten Path
- Wiltshire Off The Beaten Path
- Provincie Gelderland Off The Beaten Path
- Davao Off The Beaten Path
Badges & Stats in Burma
- 34 Reviews
- 35 Photos
- 7 Forum posts
- 0 Cities
- See All Stats
- See All Badges (21)
Have you been to Burma?Share Your Travels
Latest Activity in Burma
- Posted in Travel Cape Verde Forum "Re: Holiday middle march 2011"
- updated a Burma Travel Page "Myanmar: treasure of South East Asia!"
- Commented on one of Hmmmm's Burma travel pages
- Wrote a Review Inle Lake: Nga Phe Kyaung Monastery in Burma Things to Do
- Uploaded a Photo to "Inle Lake: Nga Phe Kyaung Monastery"
Top 10 Pages
- Serooskerke (Walcheren) Intro, 181 reviews, 223 photos, 5 travelogues
- Singapore Intro, 85 reviews, 90 photos
- Zinder Intro, 42 reviews, 61 photos, 2 travelogues
- Timia Intro, 37 reviews, 65 photos, 5 travelogues
- Top 5 Page for this destination Tibet Intro, 36 reviews, 38 photos
- Burma Intro, 34 reviews, 35 photos
- Santa Juliana Intro, 17 reviews, 36 photos, 3 travelogues
- Singapore 1 review, 49 photos, 4 travelogues
- Top 5 Page for this destination Tanzania Intro, 23 reviews, 24 photos
- Top 5 Page for this destination State of Rajasthan Intro, 22 reviews, 24 photos, 1 travelogue
FriendsSee All Friends (1)
Top Burma hotels
- Rangoon Hotels
- 529 Reviews - 1318 Photos
- Bagan Hotels
- 307 Reviews - 1204 Photos
- Mandalay Hotels
- 301 Reviews - 836 Photos
- Ngapali Hotels
- 12 Reviews - 34 Photos
- Inle Lake Hotels
- 191 Reviews - 549 Photos
- Insein Hotels
- See nearby hotels
- Taungthaman Hotels
- 2 Reviews - 3 Photos
- Mingun Hotels
- 37 Reviews - 77 Photos
- Twante Hotels
- See nearby hotels
- Taungoo Hotels
- 2 Reviews - 7 Photos
- Thazi Hotels
- See nearby hotels
- Thaton Hotels
- 2 Reviews - 4 Photos
- Taunggyi Hotels
- 1 Review - 9 Photos
- Tachilek Hotels
- 36 Reviews - 111 Photos
- Syriam Hotels
- See nearby hotels