Eating In Kalaw

Pickled Tea

Kalaw, a cool, former British hill-station in Shan State, Myanmar, rises 6,000 feet above sea level and is famous for its flowers and farmlands. It is now a gateway to a variety of interesting treks. A three day trek will take you through the mountains to mystical Inle Lake, through the villages of the Pa-O and Palaung hill-tribes, staying at monasteries along the way.

For me personally, I just like to hang around Kalaw. It has such a peaceful air about it. The air is thinner and less humid because of the high elevation. The people themselves calmly go about their business, stopping to chat as they meander down roads with cute pony carts tripping by.

The market is vibrant and filled with all kinds of interesting happenings. In one corner, ladies sort some of Myanmar’s famous pickled tea into piles of various qualities. Dried venison can be found at small stands. Further into the market is the food-stall area.


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Shan BBQ Sauce

This is an all around favorite sauce. It is especially great for grilled meat, mushrooms and vegetables, but is also very nice for samosas and fried snacks. makes 1-2 cups of sauce 3-4 pods tamarind, or tamarind pulp, soaked in boiling water and passed through a sieve 1/2 lime's juice 1 bunch coriander leaves, chopped 1 bunch fresh mint, chopped…

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Journey to Kalaw


It was still misty. The unexpected cyclone in the middle of the winter had caused havoc on the road up the mountains to Kalaw. Twenty miles outside of Kalaw the large air-conditioned bus with it’s frozen passengers came to a halt. Christmas morning was fast approaching and my family was gathering in Kalaw this year, I was anxious to arrive. In the last few minutes before the sun rose I was advised to go to the toilet.

“Why?” I asked, expecting to hear some explanation about how if you pee before the sun comes up it is much better for your body than if you pee once the first rays are shining down on the earth.

“Because once the sun comes up everyone is going to see you, there are trucks backed up all the way around the bend,” came the logical answer.

I quickly went and did my business. As the sun rose I went to have a look at what was holding up the traffic. After passing about fifty huge buses and trucks on their way to Kalaw, Inle and Taunggyi, I finally came to the source of the problem.

A truck overloaded with cabbages had tried to pass another large truck on a corner and the edge of the road had crumbled after the unexpected heavy rain. The truck was lucky to still be on the road, the front left tire hung over a drop that quickly disappeared into the mist.