“Why am I hiking when I had little sleep?” were my thoughts as we descend a steep dirt trail. We were headed to Anisakan Falls, one of the sites in my list of places to visit in Pyin U Lwin. But what was most bewildering are the 3 girls joining the hike aside from my motorbike driver that I hired. I don’t remember hiring guides or porters at that little shop at the trail jump-off earlier.
After getting settled at Grace Hotel 1, I hit the streets find to find a way to Anisakan Falls (also known as Dat Taw Gyaik Falls). Following the direction given by the staff at the Hotel, I found the stations where the Pick-ups to Mandalay are waiting. I’ve read on some guides that one can just jump on one of the Mandalay bound pick-ups and alight by the main road at a turn heading to Anisakan Village. Instead, I decided to hire my own motorbike for 5000 kyat to make sure I have a ride back in case my exploration reaches til late afternoon.
It was a good decision on my part as I found out, that from the main highway, it’s still at least a kilometer far to the jump-off to the waterfalls, deep into Anisakan Village. I waited for my motorbike driver to get his supply of betel nut at a store as he would be joining me to the falls. When we started our hike, there were other tree ladies with us along the trek. I figured they were headed somewhere on a village down below and joined the hike carrying their native backpacks. But whenever we made stops, I would be surprised one lady would fan me with her conical hat and another would offer to bring my bag. But I insisted on carrying my bag with me.
It took at least 45 minutes to descend the tree-covered and moderately-steep trail to the falls. And once we reached the base, the two ladies opened their native backpacks to reveal some canned cold drinks for sale at steep prices of 1000 kyat each. While I had water with me I decided to buy a couple, each for my driver and me. And a little after my shoot at the falls, I was surprised to see a bowl of noodles at our table. This just made me laugh. Again, I indulged with the snack since it’s only 500 kyat and I was also hungry and treated my driver to one as well.
Anisakan Falls is a beautiful and has thunderous sounding falls with raging waters spreading to the base. With its strong pour comes the water spray reaching a few meters away from the fall’s base. The pagoda on the side definitely adds its distinct character. One could probably bathe on the lower pools but I think Burmese are a little conservative here so no to skinny dipping. I really like the falls but it’s obvious the locals there aren’t taking care of the place properly – lots of trash in the area. Right now, there’s no entrance fee here but I wouldn’t mind paying a little if it means keeping the place clean.
On the way up, the three ladies still accompanied us and once in a while insisted on carrying my bag which I didn’t let them. It took about an hour to climb back to the starting point. As we were approaching the jump-off, they opened their bags for their canned drinks and insisted that I buy from them. I was annoyed and said no and headed to the store. We rested a bit and as we were about to leave, one of the girls was asking for payment for accompanying me to the falls. This slightly ticked me off.
I told them sternly that “No! I won’t Pay! I already bought drinks from each of you, ate your noodles and I certainly didn’t hire you from the start.” They didn’t argue anymore as we were about to leave. I’m a generous person when it mattered, but it’s obvious they are exploiting already. This time I have to be firm with these people.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.