Breaking Burma Day 99: Baby Burma

After consuming breakfast just outside of my penthouse suite, I said goodbye to Seb and Vim (with plans to meet my new Indian Brit friend in Kalaw for the trek to Inle Lake) before boarding the minibus that would haul me to Kalaw. The minibus was filled thoroughly with passengers but I lucked out into a prime spot in the first row with a mother and her 11 month old baby boy. The ride wasn’t overly noteworthy but I was entertained by this child that took a great interest in me. He kept trying to wriggle himself free out of his mother’s grasp so that he could get a better look at this peculiar white man sitting next to him. I kept making the same stupid and silly faces that you would with any child and he greeted each one with a big barely toothed smile and a half dimpled smirk. Too rambunctious and sly for his mother’s unmatched deft hands, he pulled in close to me wobbling his still infant legs before we came face to face. He began touching my nose and face before finally grabbing ahold of a few spare whiskers from my beard. I was surprised myself that the mother trusted me this much as the two of us stared at each other before exchanging smiles while he sat next to me. A grand idea and scheme began to form in my mind. The two of us, Boy Burma and myself, could hit the Southeast Asia trail together conquering one country after another. I could see it then and now that we would have an unstoppable, albeit peculiar, tandem. We already had a connection as the mother told me her baby boy was born in San Francisco. The American Dream Team: Asian-Style! Eventually the road cut through several cows dotting the center alley before reaching a pack that processed in unison swaying this way and that as our opposing paths converged. After some persistent honking and a little swerving by the driver, we managed to dodge the roaming bovines. The road climbed further upwards into the mountains as it crept into the city of Kalaw. Alas, the adventures long dreamt up for Baby Burma and me were not meant to be. After saying goodbye to this cute little spark of energy and his friendly mother, I went in search of trekking groups to scout on price and reputation. Eventually I settled on the well-run unit of Sam’s Family Trekking Group and reserved two spots for the three day trek for Vim and me that would begin tomorrow morning. With that behind me, I needed to refuel on something other than the typically oily Burmese food selection. A Lonely Planet recommended Nepalese restaurant stood just outside Sam’s doors so it seemed like a match made in heaven. After consuming the daht baht I left thoroughly disappointed by a cultural food that is otherwise fantastic. When checking into my hotel (a less than stellar accommodation but I have grown accustomed to lowering my expectations for my sanity and wherewithal) I found out that Kalaw did not have electricity at this time as it can happen on a somewhat consistent basis in this mountain topped city. Needing to occupy my typically fidgety feet, I hiked up to their monastery by way of a long set of stairs as is usually the case to the chagrin of the weary legged. From atop this viewpoint I could see just how dead and light deprived a city can be without electricity. A few had generators and other modes to accommodate themselves with lighting but otherwise it appeared like a star starved sky. Before the night had truly consumed the majority of the city of Kalaw I happened to walk across a group of boys (some novice monks with their maroon cloaks hiked up for sport) playing chinlon. Realizing my interest in the sport, one of the players stepped aside and insisted I play. So there I was playing chinlon (Myanmar’s sport) with the locals. I may not have been the best player but I certainly held my own although I clearly did not have the flexibility that they possessed to launch themselves in the air for a high stepping flick of their foot over the net. With the night’s darkness having fully absorbed the hills and tracks, my attention was brought into the city for whatever it may or may not have to offer. The city had a night market but the quantity was seriously lacking. To entertain myself for awhile since the sun had just recently set and Due to the simple fact that I was not remotely tired, I found an Indian food stand which was the most popular on the street and offered a different style of fare from the typical grilled shish-kabobs composed of mystery meats. For a solid hour I watched these three Indian guys (one acting as the ‘chef’ speedily flipping through the dough) whip up fried favorites ranging from what they call fried bread egg (aka french toast) to fried thin crisps of dough hitting the savory or sweet notes depending on what you preferred. For all the time I spent there analyzing every move of the operation, I didn’t order anything off the menu which proves how much that Nepalese meal ruined me. I gained the attention of the guys working the stand as well as the locals ordering and eating the food because I was the only white guy around and had the odd desire to simply watch them do their jobs cooking food. I kept giving them the thumbs up and saying how impressively the chef moved to keep up with the orders (as if I couldn’t get any more creepy). With my creeper status at an all time high, I left the stand and the market to relax in my cold, dark room before snoozing away.

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