My second day in Myanmar was spent heading to Inle Lake. We left the ship at 11:30am, took a one hour bus ride to the Heho airport, one hour plane ride, another one hour bus ride then a half hour motorized canoe ride to our resort. Inle Lake was awesome!! It is a whole city on water. All the people do all their work on the very front edge of their canoes… I don’t know how it doesn’t flip over on them because they pull up all the under water plants up onto their canoes, do all their “garden” work squatted on the front. Also, they roe their boat by standing on one foot on the very front edge, with the other foot wrapped around the bottom of the ore, one hand at the top of the ore and the other helping the foot paddle the canoe… It’s a pretty crazy way of rowing if you ask me, but, surprisingly, it is pretty efficient. All the people are so nice and speak a very little bit of English. They also bathed, washed dishes, and pretty much got all their resources from right around them. It is amazing to think about how they would even begin to start this society all on water. All their houses including our resort were on water, so naturally you have to take a canoe everywhere. Our hotel had Chinese looking architecture and when walking through it, I was surrounded by flowers, plants and mountains in the distance behind the resort. The lush greenery was absolutely breathe taking because I was constantly surrounded by it. Each of the rooms had a deck right on the water and was pretty big too.
Half way through this trip I decided to scratch all starches from my diet like breads, potatoes, and rice because I had been eating so much of it here and in India, which also caused me to over eat. So I am done with starches at least until Japan, because I cannot go to Japan and not eat Sushi! Plus, I want to get dresses made in Vietnam, so I have to look the way I want to look when I get back by then. But, the food was really good, however got really repetitive very quickly. In the rooms we actually got cartoon network and HBO… It was really exciting! In Myanmar, once the sun goes done, which is around 7pm, you cannot go anywhere nor do anything, so the TV was lovely when we weren’t hanging out, but I also had a book to read that my friend Stew loaned to me.
The next day we had breakfast at 6:30am and then got in our little motorized canoes and went to their local market. The even greater part about these people is that they won’t haggle you unless you walk up to their table and even then if you say no they back off unlike all the countries before. Then we headed to one of the pagodas to look at their Buddha. A lot of the buildings in Myanmar have a gold look to them… I’m not to sure why though. My friend John bought us two BIG bottles of “Mandalay Rum” to drink that night at a huge price of $3. LOL! I got a purse, a painting, and a wooden carving that was about a foot by two feet all for $11. Our money is worth so much their. A pitcher of beer is 40 cents because it is such a poor country ran by the military government. Speaking of their government… They are so strict. If a man is not wearing the traditional dress he will be arrested and they screen outgoing and incoming email. They blocked AOL. And during our whole voyage, they had secret agents taking pictures of us to make sure the guides weren’t saying anything they weren’t supposed to. CRAZY!! But even though the people are suppressed by their military, they seem generally happy. We as a group are not supposed to purchase anything made by the government as to not support them. Anyways, when walking up to the next pagoda, I saw this man that had no arms and only one leg… He was painting these little boxes with intricate patterns with his one foot… WOW! And could you believe that there was a sign that said, “Females are prohibited”. Can you believe it!! I was mad! After the second pagoda, we went to eat lunch at this restaurant in the middle of the lake. While we were happily enjoying our meal, they set down a plate of a burned head and tail of a fish… IT WAS THE MOST DISGUSTING THING I HAVE EVER SEEN!! I took a picture.
After lunch we canoed over to their local cigar factory which was just a small house/hut with three women making the cigars. I got three free ones to bring home and one of them I got to make my self. I naturally took my first puff of a cigar… It was weird! Right after that we saw how they make their canoes with Teek wood… Cool Beans! Then off to this house with a dozen cats that were trained to jump through a hoop almost on command. That was very cool, although the cats were none responsive to petting of any kind which was sad. BUT, there was a kitten that I absolutely got my hands on… IT WAS SSOOO CUTE! Hehe Then, we headed back to our hotel to have dinner and crash for the night. My roommate (Andrea) and I were bored so I suggested that we go for a run to the village that’s like a mile away, which she agreed to and then when we saw John he was saying that he might get a canoe to go over to the other groups resort, so Andrea went with him and I decided to go by myself. It made me mad because instead of enjoying the culture and going to see a local village, she would rather go over to the other hotel to do what we always do on the boat everyday, which is just sit chat and drink. It was really disappointing. However, you know I am down to have a good time when there is nothing else to do, so naturally at dinner we busted out that Rum and later played cards. But after 8 shots I wasn’t tipsy or drunk but John, taking the same amount, was wasted. It was really funny. So, I got bored, went back to my room and like a loser read my book and went to bed.
Bright and early the next mourning after my omelet and papaya, we went over to see the elementary school and then up to the orphanage. I gave my last dollar that I had to them. One of the little girls came up to me and grabbed my hand to show me around. See, in the last two countries, women and men openly hold hands everywhere out of affection… I personally feel weird holding hands with anybody but my sweetheart.
Then, our “light trekking” started with this climb up a hill to the monk monastery where we help feed the monks, which we could only do if we took off our shoes and then ate ourselves in a different room. I just wonder who comes up with these preposterous traditional acts like us having to lift the tables of where the different monks were sitting symbolizing us giving and blessing the food for them before they can eat… I mean, really, who thinks of that?! LOL! After lunch they gave us a choice to either head back to the hotel or go on with the “light trekking”, which was more like mountain climbing and I can’t even believe I was actually pondering going back to the hotel to be lazy because it was so much fun.
It ended up being about 3 and a half hour trek. So much fun! While we were taking pictures of the runners all sweaty, it started to rain. Such a blessing! I don’t normally like the rain, but that day I loved it. Also because it wasn’t cold rain either. We arrived at a house where everyone went under it to dry off, put on rain coats and wait for the older lady in our group that was bringing up the rear. Well, Roy and I decided to not do that, stay soaked, and do an inpromtu photo shoot. Roy and I like to keep ourselves busy. On our way down the mountain we came across a huge Bull/OX. So Roy gave me his camera to take a pic of him getting kind of close to the thing but I couldn’t because it started charging us too fast. We saw his little “presents” the rest of the way down. We had walked all the way back to our resort and were all covered in mud. I jumped immediately into the shower and had to wash my shoes and socks of for like an hour, they were so muddy. It was so much fun though and good exercise. That night after dinner the resort put on a performance which included a guy with torches lit on fire doing martial arts, some traditional dances for different events, a sword dance, and this funny pink Lama dance. It was mildly enjoyable. It is just that in every country I see a dance performance and they never have variety in their routines, so it gets really repetitive.
The next morning we had to be packed and at breakfast by 6:30am to leave by 6:45am to head to the airport and back to Yangoon. I love Inle Lake and definitely want to go back one day.
Next stop Viet Nam…