Karen State, Myanmar Part Two: Getting Lost in the Jungle

Getting lost in the jungle and almost bumping into potentially active land mines. These were the highlights of our second day in Karen State.

Following our dip in the waterfall, an open fire cooked dinner and spending the night under a bamboo hut, the morning began early at 06:00 when we woke up to the team already up and preparing breakfast. As someone who sleeps on their side, I rose with a temporarily sore hip from sleeping on a Thermarest – a little far from the comfort of a soft, cushiony bed.

The crew prepared sticky rice (purchased from the market the previous day) and toast for breakfast, which I happily spread some nut butter on that I had brought from home. If there’s anything I’ve learnt from being vegan, it’s that you can never bring too much of your own food, as you just never know when or if you’ll be able to get a meat or dairy free option!

After one last visit to the waterfall, we packed up camp and made our way back up the muddy hill and onto our next destination. We began our ascent up a steep part of the hill before coming to a halt when our crew weren’t entirely sure of the direction we needed to be going. Our guide Jack made a call for all of us to walk back to the village we originally started our walk from the previous day, where we would then take a car to our next destination. A Toyota Tarago was awaiting us at the village when we had arrived, and the nine of us squeezed into the van headed for the next village where we’d have lunch and then recommence walking to tonight’s camp.

Taking a break after a steep, humid hike, while we were trying to figure out where we needed to be going

Taking a break after a steep, humid hike, while we were trying to figure out where we needed to be going

A hog in the village we stopped by at

A hog in the village we stopped by at

Loading up the back of the tractor, which was our mode of transport to get to our next village

Loading up the back of the tractor, which was our mode of transport to get to our next village

The hot and humid journey in the jam-packed Tarago lasted a couple of hours and we drove through a few other villages along the way. When we arrived at our destination and unloaded the car, we had a little bit of time for a quick bite in the shade before loading up the back of a tractor which we hitched a ride on to get us closer to tonight’s campsite.

At the village, Jack had spoken to a couple of local officials who mentioned that there were possibly active landmines in the direction of where we were heading earlier that morning (before we got lost) so, when we had heard of that news, it was a bit of a relief that we didn’t keep walking in the direction that we were!

From the back of the tractor

From the back of the tractor

L: One of the many crew members who came with us on the tractor | R: Rice fields for days

L: One of the many crew members who came with us on the tractor | R: Rice fields for days

A couple of the village locals, the guy on the right was our tractor driver

A couple of the village locals, the guy on the right was our tractor driver

Off the tractor and en route to the next village by foot

Off the tractor and en route to the next village by foot

Thirty minutes after being on the back of the bumpy tractor, we hopped off and started our 45 minute walk to the village where we would be spending the night. We were to spend the night at a local village home which housed a family of four: a mother, father and their two children. When we arrived, we were warmly welcomed into their home and treated with fresh coconuts that the father had gotten straight from their trees.

The grounds of our home for the night

The grounds of our home for the night, and where the fresh coconuts were cut from

The lovely mother and one of her children who welcomed us into their home

The lovely mother and one of her children who welcomed us into their home

Sunsets and silhouettes after a bathe in the river

Sunsets and silhouettes after a bathe in the river

Soon after, we walked down to the river to bathe with their seven year old son. Although we weren’t able to communicate with him due to the language barrier, he was still quite playful and very inquisitive, wanting to interact with us while we were in the river.

It was the first time in a few days that we used some kind of soap/shampoo so that, along with the vivid, burnt orange sunset were both little reminders of how we should slow down more often and appreciate the little things that we sometimes take for granted.