If you're heading upriver on the Chindwin River from Monywa, chances are your first stop will be Kalewa (unless you fit in an aside at Mingin), a port cum road junction town that has enough to entertain for an evening, but not much beyond that.
Set at the confluence of the Myittha and Chindwin rivers, the town will most likely make first appearance via its telecom tower or the gleaming stupa that sits overlooking the two rivers. There is a suspension bridge a 15-minute walk back through town and aside from the wet market and a decidedly scruffy waterfront area, herewith end the main attractions of Kalewa town.
If you're looking to head into Chin State, unless flying in, this is your starting point, with a road connection to Kale, from where, at the time of writing, foreigners are permitted to travel onwards to Falam and Hakha. Bear in mind you will need to back track through here as a loop, exiting to the south, at time of writing in late 2013 is not possible.
The town has a small internet cafe, a scattering of beer stations that double up as basic restaurants and a couple of guesthouses. The quite polite immigration officers will find you and you'll be expected to show a copy of both your passport and visa upon arrival, and they'll ask where you are heading next. If you later change your plans, they need to be informed of the change.
Kalewa has three main boat landings roughly 100 metres apart. The closest to Monywa, below the pagoda and by the big tree (whose days look to be numbered), is given over to freighters while the other two boat landings slightly to the north are where passenger boats pull up. If you arrive at the centre landing, walk up the stairs till you hit the small road, take a sharp right and the guesthouse is on your left on the corner. If you arrive at the third pier, take a sharp left and the guesthouse is on your right.
By Stuart McDonald.