DAY 139: AT LAST, FOLLOWING THE BEATEN TRACK

Inle lake, Shan state, Myanmar

Ladies and gentleman, we are back in track! Energy levels have been reloaded after days of rest. Today we arranged a boat tour around the lake.

Engines started at 08:00 AM. We cruised with a local I met some days ago and that seemed to speak good English. The feeling was as sitting on a boat with a moving cinema in front of us. It also felt awkward and at the same time romantic, to have a boat for only both of us. The lake is huge and immense once you cross it. It took several minutes to cross from side to side. We had several stops that our boat driver had planned for us. Unfortunately yesterday was the floating market, but we have a great day in f

First stop was the silver factory. At first I thought it would be a tourist trap which would be boring, I was mistaken. At the factory they explained us the procedure to mine silver until it’s final execution. They kindly showed us how they worked and it did not seem as if the workers were ther

Second stop was a bit less interesting as it was a market. Markets can be interesting but this one did seem a tourist trap. Souvenirs were around, but displayed as a market. We didn’t take so long on this stop as our friend would of wished. We saw again the long neck woman working on textile, this time pretty staged. As learnt this is their only manner of surviving and it may be the only way to maintain this tradition. We also saw how they handcrafted the traditional umbrellas, that is a patient task…

Another nice thing to see were the small pagodas beside the market. There were many and in each tower some small golden bells were placed at the top. As there was wind the sound of the bells created a peaceful atmosphere.

Our third stop was a pagoda beside the lake which seemed very popular for the locals. Inside they had some kind of object that looked as a big golden egg. A holy relic which we didn’t understand what they represented. What was impressive is that these objects grew bit by bit everyday. The men would buy some pieces of golden paper and stick it to the object. Therefore everyday the objects would grow slowly of size. Those objects symbolize a dedication to religion as each object was roughly 40 centimeters high. That is a lot of gold and a lot of people who visit this holy object. I did not take pictures as I felt it could disturb their practice.

One of the best stops was the lotus and silk textile factory. The lotus textile is one of the most expensive and rare materials you can find. At Inle lake the lotus plants grow exponentially. Even so the expensive thing is the extraction of the lotus material to use for the clothing. That needed a lot of time and workforce. We were shown how the silk was knitted with their old textile machines. Again the guise was uber nice to us and we both learnt a lot of how clothing is created from scratch. We will appreciate much more every clothes we use.

This factory is not placed up for tourists. This is an industry that works full time and since many years. We had also the chance to see the workers having a break and a chance to inspect and touch the working artifacts. These knitting machines are done by wood and use traditional knitting techniques. Why change what already works for you? Apart from the beauty of the location the surroundings were stunning. We really enjoyed this part of the trip.

I also had the chance to try the traditional make up of the women. Frankly and for the surprise of Merel I found it beautiful and I think it should be exported. I tried it on myself but… it looks great on woman hahaha.

Our last stop was a very old pagoda. We were a bit tired of so many Pagodas but we enjoyed the place for its beauty, surrounding panoramic and for its cats. We stayed around the cats for a long while as they enjoyed the sunshine spot. We then remembered that three cute cats wait for us once we come back home. Oli, Kip and Patxi, we miss you!

Once we left we realized the gorgeous day we had. Intensive but very nice! We headed back to our town, not first going through the floating farms and the floating villages. Cruising on boat through the lake was really awesome and a great way to saw bye bye to Inle lake.