Wednesday, December 20, 2017

a bowl of heaven

We set off from Kalaw after breakfast with Emma, the owner of Elpis Cafe & Trekking, and Aung Bone Bone, our intrepid guide.
The night had been extremely cold, which made us glad we weren't doing a longer trek, staying in a village or at a monastery.
 Plus we got to see the egg tree.

Throughout the day, the gardens impressed us. Everything, it seems, grows in the hills north of Kalaw: papayas, bananas, and oranges but also cauliflower, mustard greens, garlic, tea, and coffee. 

 These water buffalo tend the grass.

 Have you ever seen pumpkins growing upside down?
 We ambled along on back roads and trails, coming upon stupas, families, and farmers.
 The greens looked good enough to eat. Pam called it a bowl of heaven.
 Picking spicy peppers for lunch.
 Taking a break along the way.
Isn't it a gorgeous valley? Parts of it felt like Sonoma, except the slopes of the mountains were much much steeper.
As we reached the top, we entered a Palaung village. Despite being on top of a mountain, the village is prosperous, judging by the temple, school, and satellite dishes.
Emma said we were not to be disrespectful under the banyan tree. No kissing. No drinking, No peeing.
This monument commemorates spirits who first smelled a nut and then came to earth. (Or something like that.)
Villagers dry tea leaves in the sun. We've bought lots of tea in Shan state. Very little of it is exported, which is a shame.

These crazy cacti on a cement post and an old tire are how dragon fruit grows in Shan state.

Do you recognize these berries?
(They're coffee.)
We passed this appealing homestay near the end of our day trek. I'd love to stay here next time, as long as I have internet access.

Thanks to Emma and Aung Bone Bone for a splendid day. 8 miles later, we earned our flutes of Myanmar bubbly at the local wine bar. I can't imagine a better trek.