We arrived to Inle lake on a long bus trip from Bagan and recouperated in a lovely hotel (Teakwood Guesthose) run by a local woman. Some background: typically if a breakfast is included with the room in most places in Asia you get some slices of a awful plastic sugary thing stuffed full of preservatives (known locally as ‘toast’) and some eggs. After a year of this if I never see an egg again I’ll be a happy man. This guesthouse in Inle was different though. The owner really knew how to treat her guests and we had a selection of beautifully prepared local dishes to choose from each morning, which was exactly what we were looking for. The mohinga, a Burmese speciality was particularly good and was honestly some of the best food I’ve had on this trip so far. Mohinga basically consists of vermicelli soup in pork broth, onions, egg, crispy pork skin and a few ingredients that I’ve never seen before and can’t identify. That happens a lot over here.
After all the positive feedback from my last post it looks like the new way of posting using lot’s of pictures and fewer words went down a treat with everyone. I choose to take that as a commentary on the average attention span today – justifiably reduced due to the amount of information we get bombarded with nowadays – instead of being related to my writing style. 😉 For that reason and also because I’m feeling a bit lazy this post will be along the same lines.
Most of our time in Inle was spent wandering around the countryside on bikes and the odd boat trip, just exploring the countryside and surrounding villages. It’s a very different place from anywhere else that I’ve been. Most of the time I felt like I had stepped onto a time machine instead of an airplane when I travelled to Burma. Everywhere we looked there was something… unusual… to say the least. Have a look at the pictures below and you’ll get an idea of what I mean.
Some of the local tribes still follow the custom of extending their necks using metal rings.
The old and the new all together in one house by the riverside
Inle lake fishermen have a unique way of fishing – standing on leg and dangling the other off the end of the boat. They often use this to push the oar/paddle around too. It certainly makes for nice pictures anyway.
There’s quite a large regional clothing industry. They take the inside stem of the lotus flower (pictured), spin thread from it, and weave cloth from the thread.
Weavers at work on a wooden loom. Pretty old school to say the least.
This enormous golden boat serves as a mobile Buddhist temple that travels the lake during festivals.
These 30cm lolizards are found everywhere… watch where you step!
Domestic Burmese tourists touring the lake
These are floating vegetable gardens, some of which extend out over hectares of water and are tended by hundreds of people.
Buddhist monks keeping up to date with the latest Burmese pop culture trends.
It was unbearably hot around Inle lake as usual at this time of year in Burma. This dog has the right idea…
Workers transplanting rice seedlings into the paddy fields.
Water buffalo travel by swimming through the canals during the hottest part of the day.
Silversmiths at work using a charcoal fire.
They get inventive with galvanized sheet metal around these parts.
The main mode of transport around the lake: a small boat on a small canal.
Most of the people live right over the lake in wooden houses. These are raised on stilts above the highest rainy season water levels.
Handmade perfumed and flavoured cigars and cigarettes are another major local export found all across Burma. I”m not sure what Unicef would have to say about their workforce though.
Ever heard of Burmese cats? It never hit me until I saw this guy, but these cats come from, well, Burma. I felt a bit stupid when I realised that. Cats are rare and often treated poorly around here – most people have little time or resources to care for pets – so we visited a local cat rescue center to find them.
After a long few days of exploring under the hot sun we managed to find – wonder of wonders – a vineyard. It was started by a Frenchman about a decade ago and now produces Burma’s finest wine. Not sure that I would advertise it like that though. Still, a glass of wine made a nice change from the usual beer on tap everywhere around Burma.