May 11, 2016 12:02PM (JST)
Last day of trekking. I still felt I had energy to walk back, which is long way. We slept a lot just like the other two days. Food was similar. We enjoyed company with locals and played with kids.
Geoffrey loved bamboo. He and Fabian carried a long bamboo from the ground the previous day to the house where we stayed. Geoffrey woke up early to set off to work on bamboo. Fabian followed suit. I woke up a little later to the banging sound. I fully woke up and couldn’t go back to sleep so I woke up as well, and went downstairs to look for the source. It was Geoffrey cutting through the hard bamboo, borrowing local’s machete. Fabian was beside him helping the process. They made bamboo cups just like the one we drank tea. They made six cups or so, with one failure, of different sizes. I asked Geoffrey to save one for me as well, but by the time we were all set and ready to leave, he never passed to me, and kept all for him, with two given to Fabian. Yes, this was how Geoffrey was – thinking all about himself, and Rita, who he was attracted to.
While I was awake while the boys were cutting bamboo and girls were still in their beds, and since it was perfect temperature, I leisurely walked around the village. Because we arrived late the last night, I couldn’t see much but I could make some shapes representing pagodas and a structure that seemed to be like a watchtower. It was a beautiful sight – everything was basically mixed with red and brown: red brownish dirt, brown houses, brown horses, light brown watchtower, etc. with traditionally dressed locals among them. I walked toward the pagoda. It was quite small so I just took quick photos of it and the surrounding view.
My backpack was full. I couldn’t fit the bamboo cup and light jacket from the first day so I passed them to Mitch to carry them for me, as he had lots of space in his bag. The first part of our journey was the regular dirt road made for walking and motorbikes, just like any other roads we walked in the past. We had a small tea break before we entered the jungle. Beautiful field of bright yellow flowers spread with a hut before we ventured into the thick dense forest.
The jungle was what I really wanted to see during my trip in Southeast Asia. I wanted to see the wild animals and plants that I have always imagined in my brain while watching the screen. Unfortunately, I did not see any animals, but I did see massive palm trees and exotic ferns and tropical trees. Bamboo was very different from those in Japan. They had “long flapping exterior skin”. It was like the long stem of asparagus but upside down. I wanted to photos with the giant palm trees with me in it, but as usual, everyone was walking past without stopping. So, I stayed behind and took lots of photos while keeping the pace. Eventually, the boys walked ahead leaving Marta and Rita talking happily with each other with me trailing behind enjoying the nature.
After we reached the edge of the jungle, the elevation increased a little and into the opening of the forest. There was a bridge with river flowing. The boys went for a little dip in the water while the girls and I just relaxed along the river bank. After a short rest, we continued on. We eventually reached a sharp inclined slope. I had no problem climbing because I was used to hiking. Marta and Rita had very difficult time going up. They were moving very slowly which made me tired quickly. They admitted that they don’t hike – Marta had sneakers and Rita had her first-ever hiking shoes.
The elevation continued to gain. Rita was moving behind – she said she had mental difficulties as it was extremely hot. I was okay but it was probably because I was used to hiking. Surprisingly, my legs were fine still and I did not feel any drag. We reached a tiny village with very few houses along the way. There were kids staring at us. We reached a little pond with a tiny waterfall. Geoffrey was amazed at the sight of the waterfall and he quickly undressed and went for a swim and relaxed under the waterfall. Fabian followed. The girls and I had our feet cooling off in the water.
After long walk for about 5-6 hours or so, we reached the flat terrain with farmers and cattles. Marta had stomachache and she had hard time walking. My left knee started to show pain – the pain that I usually have while hiking down, or jogging, and other vigorous endurance sports. Yet, I still walked ahead of Marta. Geoffrey and Rita were talking with each other while walking as they showed no sign of pain – though I am sure that Rita would not walk faster than the speed she was walking. We were all walking slowly, with the pace of the slowest person, and we could never make it to the destination with our walking speed. We made to the closest hut and Mitch called a Tuktuk to come pick us up. We rested inside the house and had tea and cookies from an elder lady.
According to Mitch, there was another 5km (or was it 10?) or so to go. It was already around 12-1PM or so when we reached a lunch stop at a different city via Tuktuk. We passed a military stop. I took photo of the place without realizing that I couldn’t take photo due to security reasons. I was sure they didn’t realize that though, since we moved quickly. When we reached the small food stop in the new city, I couldn’t enter the shop due to the strong smell of raw meat. They looked to be sausage and who knows what it had. I had to step out and relaxed. I didn’t throw up but it seemed, and Geoffrey quickly urged me to stay away, as he is always very direct. I came back later with much better ease and ate the noodle. It had small amount of meat and the noodle was much like the ones I ate back in Yangon – the Shan noodle.
By the time we reached our hotel, it was 3PM, the time that Mitch was expected to come back. My bamboo cup and jacket were not forgotten and given back to me. We said our final goodbye to Mitch. Geoffrey wanted to stay another night to tour the town with Rita. While Rita went to her room and pack up her belongings, Geoffrey went to book a room. When Rita returned, she was surprised to find that the room was only one for both of them. Geoffrey was quite sick before we left for the trekking (both Marta and I had little nose running while trekking). It was worrisome to share the same room and Rita might have gotten sick too.
Fabian, Marta, and I quickly picked up our belongings at the storage room and we were ready to take the bus to Yangon – I were to set off to Hanoi, Vietnam, and they were to fly to Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon, to attend the wedding of Fabian’s friend. Our flights were around the same time.
When I mentioned that I wanted to go to Inle Lake too, but Geoffrey quickly told me that he would travel with Rita and did not want me to be with them. I felt bad but it was definitely fine with me because I did not like Geoffrey. Rita did not say anything – which clearly showed that it was fine with her.
Off the bus we went. I was happy to stay away from Geoffrey and was ready for a new adventure. Fabian, Rita, and I took a minibus to a local market where the bus stops first, then we took the express bus to Yangon, for about 8 hours. It was quite cold on the bus. We used blanket to sleep. The next adventure begins.