Aikhtun - "We always meet online and I want to marry her in two years"
A lot of people told us about the 3-day trekking to Inle Lake, everyone said the landscapes were amazing and that we should go for the experience of staying with families in the small villages.
This is how we met Aikhtun, our trekking guide for the three days.
1. What is your name, where do you come from and what do you do for living?
My name is Aikhtun and I’m 27 years old. I’m a guide for the trekking tours that depart from Kalaw to Inle Lake. I started working with tourists one year ago. Before that I was studying English in Yangon.
I live by myself in a Hostel in Kalaw. I don’t like it too much but I have to because of my work. But my hometown is more in the North, very near Hsipaw and that’s where my family and my girlfriend live.
We have been together for over a year now but we don’t see each other very often because she lives far. We always meet online and I want to marry her in two years. We are both Buddhists so the wedding will by at my house; we invite our families over, dress with the typical clothes and have 3 or 5 monks from the closest monastery to conduct the celebration. Then we will have to kneel before the monks and our parents to receive their blessing. It’s one full day and we will feed everyone with rice and curry!
2. What advice would you give to someone like us that just arrived here?
Foreigners have to be careful with Malaria, in some parts of the country it exists and people say it comes from mosquito bites or from the water. People in Myanmar can drink the water because they are very used to it but for tourists they can get sick and they need to drink from the bottles.
3. What would you say is your favourite food?
Shan noodles is the best, it’s a kind of food you can find in the Shan state. It is a very traditional type of noodles and everyone in the country loves it. I never cook them, most of the time I just have rice and curry like everyone else here in Myanmar, but when I want something special I go to a restaurant and have some Shan noodles with vegetables.
4. What's your favourite place here?
I like Yangon and the Shan state.
I lived in Yangon for more than 10 years and in the beginning the city was very nice and I met a lot of good people there, I still have many friends in the city. But now it has become too big, there is too much traffic and pollution, and you cannot drive a scooter in the main streets anymore, it’s illegal and dangerous.
And the Shan State is where my hometown is. The lifestyle there is very peaceful and good to relax, there are not too many people and it’s quiet. I like how the houses are made, they are built with bamboo and always have two floors – the families live upstairs, and downstairs is where they keep the animals, like cows, horses and chickens.
5. What would be the perfect Sunday afternoon plan?
Every week I work for 3 days, which is the time of the trekking and then I have five days off. Sometimes I go to my hometown but lately not so much because I don’t have a motorbike, so I like to just rest and relax a little bit.
6.What do you usually do for fun?
When I have free time I like to visit my friends, relax, meet them for tea and talk for hours, but always only boys!!! I don’t drink alcohol because I am afraid to get addicted, I have tried once the white wine made from rice but I didn’t like it, it is very strong and felt like I was swallowing fire.
7. What is the main source of income of your country?
Before the British came, Burma was a kingdom and one of the richest countries around here. There was plenty of money but everything was used to build temples, anyone with money could build a pagoda, that was a way of showing wealth and that is why still today Myanmar has so many temples.
Today, Myanmar makes money mostly from jade, the precious stone, and tea plantations. I’ve never seen jade but I know that in some parts of the country there is a lot. And then there is also electricity, even though many places in our country don’t have it, we export a lot of electricity to China and Thailand, but all the profit goes to the government, not the people.
Now the capital is not Yangon anymore it was changed to Naypyidaw. It is a much smaller city compared to Yangon or Mandalay, but it’s better located and strategically good for business because it has an airport and a port where all the ships go.
We are a democratic country now, well not completely just half. Meaning we have a dictatorship leader, he is a military leader who indirectly has all the power. The military makes only 25% of the total parliament but somehow they have ruled the country for years, they were the ones who wrote the country’s Constitution and the power continues in the Military hands, even after the last elections in 2015. Of course, people don’t like the military leader, he was responsible for the oppression of the people, and even now with the new government and after opening Media; the military keeps trying to rule over the country. In some parts of the country they have their armed and organised groups, known as the rebels, who are always fighting between each other and creating internal wars and danger for the people.
8. What would you like to ask our next host?
Who is the person you most admire?
Tips & Recommendations
Do the 3-day trekking tour instead of the 2 days. It is about 60 kms in total and the trails are not so hard.
Prepare for a school type of sleepover in a shared room with many mattresses on the floor and forget the nice shower at the end of the day. The best you will have is a bucket, which you will be super grateful for when you look at yourself and you’re covered with mud!
Be ready for the rain, when it rains it is super slippery and normal sneakers shoes are definitely not a good option.