One of the main backpacker activities in central Burma is a three-day trek from Kalaw to Inle Lake. Kalaw is a nice, laid-back town (in stark contrast to the bigger cities). For our one night stay we picked Golden Kalaw, a great hotel run by a friendly lady who was helpful in every possible way.
They clearly get a lot of backpackers looking to trek and she had it all laid out for us: hotels and bus tickets from Inle Lake, maps of various treks, and even competing trekking offers. So convenient! We talked to others who did not have such a nice experience so I have to recommend this place if you're stopping in Kalaw before trekking. Within 30 minutes of arriving in Kalaw we had the next 4 days figured out! A rare occasion on the road, so it felt nice.
The next morning we got up, had our free breakfast, and started trekking at 9:30am. Our guide's name was Yelay, a young guy who broke the ice easily and got us feeling like a group right away. Very nice since our 8-person group was spending the next three days walking together!
We left the center of town on foot and went south. We stopped occasionally to inspect vegetation or take in the views. This time of year is very dry, and what we lacked in green vegetation we made up by having nice, solid dry paths to walk on.
We weaved through the hills, stopping at viewpoints and enjoying the scenery. It was dry and desolate feeling, but still alive with activity of the local animals and people. We were, however, the only group on our trail and it felt very special to be out there without running into other trekkers, especially since this tour is so popular. We walked a little over 18km on the first day, mostly toward the south, slowly making our way higher into the mountains.
Finally we arrived at our destination for the day: a small mountain village with no running water and a handful of lightbulbs as the only evidence of modern technology. Tired from our trek, we ate a delicious dinner and after Yelay did a handful of card tricks for us, we plunged into our bed quarters at 8:30 and fell asleep immediately.