THE WEEKLY #62: LIFE ON THE INLE LAKE

It’s my second week of exploration in Myanmar with my sister joining the adventure. I am still trying to adapt to just how quiet this place is right now. It could be that I’ve become accustomed to getting yelled at and hassled the moment I stepped out my door in India or it could be that its low season here and quite rural. Either way, we’re enjoying our peaceful journey, slowly winding our way south to Yangon.

This week we finished off our time in Bagan with an epic sunset. After raining all day we slid our way through the Bagan Plains on our weak little electric bike towards the pagodas. Halfway along our journey, the mud thickened and our bike began to drift from side to side. I found this to be great fun as my sister became more and more apprehensive riding on the back. Just as I was exclaiming about how I was the best driver in Bagan I lost control and the bike hit the sloshy mud. No damage was done but we decided to abort our initial plans and walk up a small hill to watch the incoming storm wreak havoc above the temples. It was one of the sunsets of the year as the lightning and thunder created an eerie atmosphere in the plains. For the third night in a row, we were the last troopers to leave the area, navigating our way back to town in the dark.

Before we left Bagan we made a day trip to Mt. Popa. At the top of the small mountain is a monastery, precariously sitting atop, looking out over the valley. If you watched my Instastory @jackson.groves you would have seen the crazy packs of monkeys that guard the entrance to Mt. Popa. They are unlike anywhere in Asia and had both of us on edge.

After a great time in Bagan, we had to use a day traveling by minivan to Inle Lake. The journey was pretty good as far as Asia bus travel goes and we arrived early, with no issues.

Inle Lake is one of the most popular spots in Myanmar. Often a hyped spot disappoints me but I really enjoyed our tour of Inle Lake by private boat. For $18 we hired a private boat for the day and visited a number of spots around the region.

I’ve seen floating villages before but this was a large scale community with thousands of people living on the water. They even had tomato gardens in the middle of the lake. The fishermen of Inle Lake have a unique technique of balancing and paddling by standing on one leg and pushing their oar or paddle with the other. It’s quite fascinating to watch and I can only imagine how I would spend more time in the ocean than on the boat if I tried to catch a fish while standing on one leg on a wobbly wooden canoe.

The tour was quite touristy, stopping at many workshops selling the handmade goods. We visited a weaving village, cigar workshop, floating blacksmith and even visited the long-neck women. We were expecting this tourist aspect of the boat trip and despite feeling a little pressure to buy things we never felt that it was expected.

So far Myanmar has been like a quiet country town, slowly humming with local activity with few tourists about. Tomorrow we take a 16-hour bus, my sisters longest bus voyage ever, to Hpa An. Here, we have two short hikes planned and I’m really excited about those as they aren’t incredibly popular, which means I haven’t seen a million photos and can let the adventure unravel as we ascend.

Hope you all had a great week!

 

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