We left our host family in La Mine village, and set off for day 2 of our trek.
The morning was cool, and the farmers were working in their fields. Myanmar is incredibly fertile, and in early November just after the rainy season, the fields were quite lush – mountain rice, paddy rice, mustard in full bloom. Also corn, peanuts, all kinds of beans.
Water buffaloes are used for plowing – this man was “field surfing” – riding on a board pulled behind his buffalo while plowing…and listening to his ipod!
The path led us along train tracks,
over bamboo bridges,
through a rice field,
and at mid-morning we came to a Pa O village called Pin Nwe. People were busy drying corn, beans and chile peppers.
The village boys were mugging for our camera – they really enjoyed watching a video of themselves!
An old woman had set up her backstrap loom along the main path, and was selling her textiles. It takes 5 days to weave the scarves she is selling for 5 kyat – about $5. She gives us tea and roasted peanuts while we watch.
We purchase one, and she unwinds her headscarf to put the cash in her safekeeping place. We continue through the beautiful countryside, watching the clouds gather. At one point, I slipped on the track, and ending up with one foot in deep, oozy mud – remnants of the previous day’s rain. The guides helped fix that problem…. but we could see that the path could quickly become slippery and impracticable in case of rain.
We were happy to arrive at our lunch stop – the village of Pop Kè. Mr Hti brought us bowls of noodles and vegetables, with an egg on top, and fried potatoes.
We had made relatively good time this morning, and were allowed to take a short siesta… until it started to rain! What a downpour! No let-up. It was looking like our afternoon trek over the mountain to the Kone Hla guesthouse was going to be very slippery going. Finally, we “negotiated” with the guides to hire a pick-up truck to take us the rest of the way to our destination. The pick-up had to go around the mountain, rather than up and over as we could have done on foot, so it took us almost 3 hours – but hey, we were nice and dry in the cab with the driver, and the guides were trading jokes with his buddy in the back.
We arrived at the guesthouse just at dark – and just in time for dinner! (such yummy things to eat in Myanmar!)
Other travelers were still out on the mountain – a group of 3 french women arrived well after dark – totally soaked, and with dead flashlights, but at least under their own power. An older couple and their guide had still not arrived – and we heard that a bullock cart had been sent out to find them. The French ladies had some hot tea at the guest house, and then continued out in the night to the local monastery where they were to sleep. We heard that the guides we not encouraging people to sleep in monasteries any more, as there have been a few problems with the rules. The monks do not drink alcohol, and men and women must sleep in separate dormitories. Apparently some trekkers were sneaking in beers or stronger stuff after a hard day’s walk, and there was a little too much “visiting” between dorms going on after dark.
After our dinner, we were happy to turn in – but there was quite a lot of loud banging going on just outside our window. In the morning – we learned that this happens regularly as the unmarried village girls shell the harvested peanuts by pounding them – and the young men gather to observe which of the ladies is the best worker/prospective wife.